Earl Eaton also invented the ‘ski-bob’ | VailDaily.com

Earl Eaton also invented the ‘ski-bob’

Scott N. Miller
Vail, CO Colorado
Daily file photoEarl Eaton said his "ski bob" can be transported on any lift and can be ridden down any slope.

VAIL, Colorado ” Earl Eaton’s skill at trail design helped put countless people on the slopes. But one of his inventions worked for only a few.

Eaton invented the ski bike, also known as the “ski-bob.” He loved the thing and believed it could be the next big thing in winter sports. The problem was he was just about the only human on the planet who could ride one.

“He was always kidding us that the ski-bob was a faster way to navigate a mountain than skis,” former Vail owner George Gillett said.

Bill “Sarge” Brown, who was the mountain manager at Vail in the 1960s, said Eaton was always pushing the ski company to rent the bikes.

“That was nixed because we were afraid of the lawsuits,” Brown said. “Earl could ride it, but everyone else who tried crashed. I would’ve gotten killed on the thing.”

Most ski areas banned the bikes, so Eaton rode his ski bike when and where he could.

“I remember when it got banned, Earl would hike up a hill and ride it down,” Arapaho Basin founder Max Dercum said.

Vail ended up the only place Eaton could ride a lift with his bike in hand. He rode it into his 80s.

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