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Andover Outing Club
I recently shared my fundraising page for Story Project on Facebook. On my post I put that “ski jumping and cross country skiing made me the person I am.” I want to revise this a bit and add a little context to this statement, so let me take you back about 101.5 years.
Dan Bulkley was born May 4th, 1917 in Bangkok, Siam, or what is now Thailand. His father was an American Doctor in Thailand, and Dan is my grandfather. I could go on and on about his amazing life, but I will stick to skiing and skip forward about 30 years. Dan arrived in Ashland, Oregon in 1950 to coach and teach at Southern Oregon University. He decided to start a skiing class so college students could get PE credit. The school’s business manager scrounged up some money to buy 10 sets of equipment, and students got a lesson on how to ski. The skiing class grew and Dan decided they needed a more formal place to ski so he got the college to chip in $50 and he used $50 dollars of his own money to buy an old rope tow from the Grants Pass Ski Club. One of the student’s fathers was a logger and soon they were cutting trails off Siskiyou Summit. Within a few years a group of people including my grandfather had established Mt. Ashland Ski area. In 1972 my father, Bert, went to Ashland to become a ski school instructor and teach the college ski classes. Dan was his boss and while teaching and instructing he met my mom, who was also a ski instructor. Dan did not fire him, and the rest is history. Grampa Dan head of ski patrol at Mt. Ashland for 28 years and has been referred to as Mr. Mt. Ashland.
My grandfather came from an alpine background but got into cross country skiing in 1984 when he competed in his first Pole Pedal Paddle in Bend Oregon. If any of you are doing the math, he did his first PPP at the age of 67 by himself! He then went on to compete in World Masters Championships in XC Skiing from 1987 until 2008, and I don’t even know how many world titles and world records he has, but it is a lot. One of his main rivals was the legendary Sven Wik, whom many people may know.
I felt this story was appropriate for Story Project because some of my first memories of skiing are with my grandfather. I remember getting my butt kicked by a 75 year old man and wondering how the hell he could be so fast. I remember watching him compete in World Masters Championships, seeing all the medals he won, and thinking, I want to do that. I do not have nearly the number of medals he has, but I did have an ok skiing career, and I credit much of it to the inspiration he provided. I now work to help get more kids Nordic skiing. The lifts cost a little more than $100 dollars, and I have not built any ski areas, but I think my goals are much the same as my grandfather’s. There is something special about being outside in the winter, gliding on snow, and flying through the air. And teaching people, particularly youth, about skiing is a worthwhile endeavor.
Dan Bulkey is now 101. He ran 100 meters on his 100th birthday and last year was the first year since the 1940s that he did not ski, but two years ago we got four generations out on skis.
At the beginning of this story I said I wanted to revise my statement. Skiing made me who I am, but really the people who I am closest to used skiing to teach me about life, and I am forever grateful. Thank you grampa, thank you mom, thank you dad, and thank you everyone who works to keep these amazing sports going.
AN UPDATE FROM JED: After writing this story in November, grampa Dan’s health began to decline. He passed away in his sleep on December 16th. We miss him, but what a life he lived.