Nearly a foot of new snow
fell on that Christmas Eve, blanketing the Lake
Michigan dunes along the eastern shore. The
festivities of Christmas morning had played out to
perfection. All the presents had been opened and the
anticipation and excitement of the day was now being
gloriously vocalized by sisters Wendy and Laurie
Nancy Poppen, eminently
pregnant with her third daughter, made a request to
“Sherm, you’ve got to get
those noisy kids out of the house.”
“Everybody outside!” shouted
Sherm, “Mom needs a little rest.”
With that, the stage was set
for the birth of an Olympic sport.
With the call of fresh snow,
Wendy, age 9, and her sister Laurie, age 4, wanted to go sledding.
Legend has it their dad, Sherm, couldn’t find a
sled. Or maybe it was that the sled was cutting
through the snow and simply wouldn’t perform as
desired. Time blurs this part of the story.
Either way, something
inspired Sherm to head back to his workshop to
improvise. Grabbing a pair of peach-colored kids
skis purchased from the local Kresge, he lashed them
together into a makeshift toy for his daughters. The
girls took turns on the contraption, sliding down
the sand dune behind the family’s Beach Street home.
“The next thing I know the
kids aren’t sitting on it, they’re standing on it,”
Sherm Poppen recalled some 15 years later, “and I
wanted to stand on it. And it was a real good time.”