Kalani Simpson


By Kalani Simpson

Thursday, November 15, 2001

Potter wants extreme
games to return home

HAWAII is the birthplace of extreme games. That's good enough for me. Let's run with that.

Enter Roger Potter. You remember Roger Potter, the crazy Englishman with the crazy ideas, the man who claims that bobsledding, via the land speed sled sport of holua, was actually invented by ancient Hawaiians. And, thus, even more crazily, Hawaii should honor this heritage by "Cool Runnings"-ing a bobsled team into the Winter Olympics.

But there's more: "My premise was," he said, "before I ever got sledding again, was I was trying to get through to people -- particularly during the last decade when our economy has been so bad -- I kept trying to say, 'Look we have something we can tell everybody: We are the home of extreme games.' "

Hmmmm. He has a point. Surfing. Sledding. Speed. Danger. Lots of tattoos. Yes, the old Hawaiians did it first, before all these young TV punks and their annoying Mountain Dew commercials.

"Now if you take that as a fact," Potter said, "and now street luging is the premiere of all extreme games. What does that make us but, by pure logic, we must be the home of extreme games. It's not San Francisco, and it's not San Diego. It is Hawaii."

I agree. Quick. Let's cash in on this.

"What I'm looking at long term is to possibly even get street luging happening here," Potter said. "Don't have to build anything -- and this is what I'm trying to get through a lot to people in power here is that we have the great opportunity to participate at an international level in sledding at a sport we basically did first here in the islands."

The mayor (the candidate) told me in September that, "We've been pushing hard for all types of sporting events to come to Honolulu. We really think that our future lies in sports tourism as a way to diversify our economy." Let's get these two guys together.

Of course, what Potter really wants to do is set up a bobsled pushing contest. Yes, it's crazy, but people do this without snow. It's how you train in the summer. They do it every year in Monte Carlo, where the Prince of Monaco, a bobsledder, has been inviting European national teams to practice -- and push.

"I would like to have the PanPacific push championships," Potter said, a TV event, a possible bonanza (28 nations went to Monaco in 1999). "And to be quite honest, all it is is a much shorter version of the Carole Kai Bed Race," Potter said. "So you can put it anywhere, all they need is a car park. A hard surface. And that's it. A piece of road, a car park. Put all stands around it, nice camera positions for ESPN, you've got a major international competition."

Let's do it. Let's get the television, the green caffeine, the piercings, the hype, the bodies, the nacho chips. Money. Our economy needs the money.

Surfing. Sledding. Speed. Danger. The Hawaiians were the first, best, extreme athletes. Let's bring the X Games home.

"Just tell them about the sled runs of the ancients," Potter said. "And they will come."

It's so crazy, it just might work.

Kalani Simpson's column runs Sundays, Tuesdays and Fridays.
He can be reached at

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