Leisure

Beyond “Because It’s There”

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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

“Because it’s there” has been the accepted motivation behind all manner of exploits, by all manner of outdoor adventurers, ever since George Mallory offered it decades ago as an explanation for why he wanted to climb Mt. Everest. It’s somewhat ironic that so little inward exploration would be carried on by a community that values outward exploration so greatly. Two events this week, however, offer opportunities to further explore the motivation of those who participate in extreme sports.

Brattleboro’s Harris Hill hosts its annual President’s Day Weekend ski jumping competition this Saturday and Sunday. Named for Brattleboro’s Fred Harris—who founded both the Brattleboro Outing Club and the legendary Dartmouth Outing Club—the ski jump has hosted regional and national championship competitions 18 times since 1923, when it first served as the site of the National Ski Jumping Championships. This year’s event features 40 female and male skiers from the U.S., Canada, and Europe traveling at 60 mph as they soar more than 300 feet through the air. Live music, good food, and a beer tent will reduce the tension a bit.

Also this weekend, the Mahaiwe screens Into the Mind, a documentary by Sherpas Cinema that looks at the psychological process behind the risks and rewards of pushing oneself to go further, as extreme skiers climb up and ski down mountain peaks from Alaska to the Andes to the Himalayas.

Maybe there’s more to it all than Mallory let on.

Feb. 15-16, 11 a.m., Harris Hill Ski Jump, Cedar St., Brattleboro, (877) VT-SOUTH, harrishillskijump.com.

Feb. 16, 7:30 p.m., Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center, 14 Castle St., Great Barrington, (413) 528-0100, mahaiwe.org.

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