"My tack was to take the Flexible Flyer and bring it into the 21st century," says Seattle-based marketing consultant David Levy, a lifetime fan of the classic snow toy and a member of what he describes as a cult of "cockamamy-crazy adults who have continued to sled for their entire life." Realizing several years ago that the Flyer's design hasn't been significantly updated since the late 1800s, Levy parlayed his obsession into the Captain Avalanche—an advanced toboggan prototype that he's currently shopping to leading gear companies. More rocketsled than Rosebud, Captain Avalanche features a padded black body cradle made of polyethylene for headfirst riding and aluminum runners that bend into tight arcs for unprecedented maneuverability.
Alas, the 23-pound Captain Avalanche is not for sale—unless you happen to head up a big equipment company. "We believe there is a major manufacturer out there who is going to realize this thing has potential," says Levy. He hopes the Avalanche will be in retail stores next season for around $300, and he has reason to think it might: After seeing the sled in action, K2 Skis general manager Tim Petrick pronounced it "one of the most exciting products that's come along in years." Still, many resorts are leery of skier-boarder-sledder carnage, and no one has built a terrain park for the Cap'n, yet. "We love the sleds," says Michele Reese, vice-president of Montana's Big Mountain Resort, "but we'd like to see them integrated on somebody else's mountain before we do it here."