Thirty years ago, the thought of a Jamaican named Alton Tinker learning how to ski was about as far-fetched as a bunch of fellow countrymen jumping into a bobsled and competing in the Olympics. But sure enough, the Jamaican bobsledders made history as the first minority team, and Tinker learned how to master the slopes in Esprit "The Ultimate" Ski & Sports Club. "I actually love to ski," says Tinker, a past club president, who moved to Cleveland in 1974. "If I can adjust to the cold and snow."
The group was formed in 1978 for African Americans who wanted to ski. Tinker signed up, because he thought it was a social club masquerading as a sports organization. "Most of us who join have no idea how to ski," he says.
The group's 120 members meet on the second Tuesday of each month to plan ski outings, which include January trips to Holiday Valley, Bristol Mountain, and Peek'n Peak ski resorts in New York. But when spring comes, talk turns to warm-weather excursions involving tennis, biking, and whitewater rafting. "You name it, we do it," Tinker says. "But it's primarily a ski club." It meets at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Shaker Heights Public Library, 16500 Van Aken Boulevard in Shaker Heights. Admission is free, but members pay annual dues; call 216-689-4294. -- Cris Glaser
Stripped to the Bark
Program makes winter tree identification easy.
This month's School of the Wilds program at Cleveland Metroparks is called "Naked Trees." Alas, it has nothing to do with frolicking, ass-baring foliage. It does, however, provide tons of info on how to tell what kind of tree you're looking at, now that all its leaves are gone. "Bumps come out of the stem where the leaves were," offers naturalist Wendy Weirich, who conducts the outdoor workshop (which includes a two-mile hike). "[They] have a specific pattern. If you learn the pattern, you can identify a tree that does not have any leaves." Voilà! School of the Wilds is in session from 2 to 5 p.m. Sunday at Look About Lodge, 37374 Miles Road in Bentleyville. Admission is free; call 440-247-7075. -- Diane Sofranec