Crash Landing

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Michael Lund was a hero in the freewheeling days of freestyle skiing. He traveled the world performing at made-for-TV exhibitions, won the 1974 World Championship for ballet, and with his athletic good-looks and devil-may-care attitude, was a star in early ski films.

In 1978, Lund's legend grew. The Coast Guard seized a freighter carrying 37 tons of marijuana off the Washington coast, and authorities accused Lund of planning to ferry the drugs ashore in his 61-foot sailboat. But like ski tracks beneath fresh snow, Lund vanished.

"Whatever happened to Michael became a mystery," says Jeff Lange, a U.S. Ski Team board member who was coached by Lund in the mid-Seventies. The mystery ended in May, when Lund, now 65, was captured outside of Denver.

Thought dead for 23 years by his two daughters, Lund had changed his name to Steven McCain, worked as a carpenter, remarried, fathered two sons and gotten divorced. But Lund never quit skiing. He spent much of the Eighties hiding out in Jackson Hole, Wyo., where he was known as the motel clerk who skied like a dream.

Motel owner Tom Robbins has a photograph of his employee doing a backflip in a blazing red jumpsuit. "One of the best skiers I've ever seen," Robbins says. The champion "hot-dogger" gave no hint of a secret past, aside from one occasion when some guests recognized him and shared a laugh. Robbins was confused by the name they called him, but thought nothing of it.

Lund would still be a fugitive if not for falling behind in his child-support payments. A Colorado judge jailed him for a weekend, and he was fingerprinted. Officers discovered his prints matched ones from the two-decades-old case. Lund's life "out of bounds" had ended.
¿Paul Tolme