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Outdoor recreation to see more coverage

Column by Darin Olde, Tribune staff writer

If you’ve ever wondered why more recreation-oriented sports like trail running, ice climbing, kayaking, mountain biking or mountaineering don’t get in the paper much, I’m here to tell you why.

I’m also here to tell you that you’re going to see a lot more of it in the future. Just how much, however, is largely dependent on you. That’s right, you. So keep reading.

Unfortunately, we don’t get to report on the recreation sports much because, frankly, it’s really difficult to find and to write.



You might notice that most recreation stories are about someone or some group defying the odds: a blind man or a group of breast cancer survivors climbing the tallest mountain in the world; two teenage boys skateboarding from one side of the country to the other; or a paraplegic man climbing El Capitan in Yosemite.

These are great stories. They’re worthy of the front page in most papers across the country.




Those stories are rare. But there are many stories about regular folks like you and me. You almost never here about your neighbor climbing 10 pitches at Lovers’ Leap or your chiropractor laying down a new ski descent on Boundary Peak, and so on.

Why?

It really isn’t a sports story since there’s no competition.

It could be what we call a “feature” story. But as one of my old editors used to say, they all read the same: We came, we saw, we kicked some butt and then we went home.

Sometimes, that doesn’t always hit the news button.

People ski Maggy’s Peak, kayak the American River, or climb at Granite Chief on a regular basis. Is that really news?

Yet, when the Little League team plays a regular-season game, you can find it here.

In baseball, there’s one team against another in competition for the pennant. There are hits, errors, swings, pitchers, stolen bases, changes in the lead, often a regional tournament or championship series at the end. And, of course, there are scoresheets and trends that can be followed without too much fuss.

In climbing, there’s very little competition at all. There are destinations and routes and grades, but those are hard to quantify.

In kayaking, there are rapids of various sizes and levels of difficulty, and there’s the duration of the trip, but there is little objective information to tell you how the story unfolds and why you should be reading. Climbing and kayaking rarely have scoresheets, so it’s not real easy for us as journalists to follow up on it. And often there aren’t longstanding trends from season to season.

Bummer.

I climb, ski, run, hike and swim, sports that I can do solo and with groups when it works out. But I don’t write about them often.

I worked at a ski magazine a while back and one of the things you learn is that “how to” articles are popular.

Destination or “trip of the week” articles are popular. Profiles of amazing athletes are well-read and so are feature stories.

Remember the crash of a military helicopter on Mount Hood? How about the Truckee woman returning to climb the mountain that two years before killed her partner and sent her life on a whole new course.

I love those stories.

The truth is, however, that there are a lot of us out there who do these kinds of activities and want to read about them.

The real key isn’t always finding the the wildest story, it’s about finding the stories that mean something.

Those stories are damn hard to write. But I’ve also found that when you do it right, people love them.

Those are the stories we need to hear about from you.

I know a ski instructor at Sierra who rafted in Oregon for most of the summer. He’s going to work all winter now, so I wonder what it is about his rafting trips that make it all worthwhile. I know he has at least one story.

I know some rock climbers in town who are putting up new routes at local crags. They’ve climbed around the world, but now they love exploring the dark and obscure corners of their own wilderness. That sounds like it might be a good story. It deserves to be written.

I know there is a group of people out there who want to read about them.

That’s why I’m proud to support the Tribune in its effort to return the Outdoors page later this year.

But we need your help. Please write to tell us about your stories. I can’t guarantee that they will get written all the time. But if we don’t know, they never will.

To submit an idea, a photo, or comment, please call (530) 542-8008, write dolde@tahoedailytribune.com, or fax comments to (530) 541-0373.

Don’t forget your water. And please wear your helmet.


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