August 19, 2005

ski jumping riot

The Bay Area’s all a-twitter with news that the steepest couple of blocks on the Fillmore Street hill in Pacific Heights will be turned into a ski jump later this month so that Icer can hawk their line of gear, MTV can shoot a half hour special, and has-been Olympic star Johnny Moseley can celebrate his 30th birthday.  Neighborhood residents are flipping out (pun fully intended); especially the couple that’s scheduled to wed that Saturday in the neighborhood.

The best bit in the Chronicle story, though, was this – the ski jump thing’s been done before, about 70 years ago in Berkeley, and it led to a very Berkeley outcome…

In February 1934, the Auburn Ski Club of Truckee put 43,000 cubic feet of snow  –  four times the amount headed for Fillmore Street  –  on six Southern Pacific boxcars and shipped it to the steep slopes of Hearst Avenue, just north of the UC Berkeley campus, for a ski jump demonstration. About 45,000 people, including thousands on Tightwad Hill, gathered to watch the novelty.

But in true Berkeley fashion, the event ended in a riot. College students, many of whom had never seen snow before, stormed the barricades and launched an enormous snowball fight, disrupting the event before it could finish.

Here’s to history repeating itself, with thousands of Pac Heights residents, led by the bride and groom, storming the slopes and pummeling Moseley and the Icer crew with snowballs.  Now that I’d pay to see.