Perhaps you've seen him-a six-foot-one-inch, bleach-blond mono-skier powering through Telluride's bumps, knees pounding his chest, an infant carrier strapped to his back with a baby bouncing grotesquely behind him. Overhead, gaping tourists scream from the chair, begging him to stop. But "Extreme Baby," as he calls it, is unharmed (despite the knit cap and the pee-wee duds, it's just a doll).
This ploy is the type of gratuitous attention-grabber that C.J. "Turbo" Turner lives for. With such reactions, his life mission-bringing attention to his much-derided discipline-moves forward, one horrified Texan at a time.
Turbo wants to convince the world to mono-ski, and it's been a long campaign. A 41-year-old Ridgway, Colorado, contractor, Turbo has subjected Telluride and Crested Butte to his juvenile sense of purpose since the late '80s, when he began offending trophy wives and telemarkers alike by skiing in motocross leathers and loudly advertising his message: "Mono-skiing is skiing's best-kept secret."
The thing about Turbo, though, is that while he's an unashamed wacko, he's an athletic and imaginative unashamed wacko: A former world pro-mogul-tour skier, Turbo competed in the notoriously difficult Derby de la Meije kamikaze downhill in La Grave, France, in 1999. Near the front of the 600-person pack until a long flat section slowed the mono-skier to a crawl, the undeterred Turbo returned in 2000, smuggling rocket fuel through London's Gatwick Airport.
This time, when Turbo reached the Derby's flat section, he pushed a trigger on his ski pole, detonating charges in the rocket engine he'd mounted on the rear of his mono-ski. The thrust, which Turbo claims can accelerate him to 90 miles per hour, propelled him into seventh place. The French officials, being French, didn't mind that he'd brought a rocket to their mountain; they merely disqualified him from the normal race and declared him champion of the "UFO category."
Tale of the Turbo
August 27, 1960; Amherst, New Hampshire
Man with a plan:
"I'm going to take time off this winter and visit 20 or so ski areas dressed as Rocket Man. People love things that make noise and blow up."
"It can hurt you, sure. You're burning enough rocket fuel to blow a family of hamsters to Mars. But it's a short, intense thrust. You just get ready for it, ride it, and then it's over. At A-Basin once, I deton-ated too late, leaving second-degree burns on my hands. So, now I wear a fireproof suit, like a Nascar driver."
Testing the first prototype:
"I did a clandestine test at Telluride, and I was really worried I'd be caught, especially since I'd been suspended for excessive speed there before the rocket."