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Man Has Skied 3,000 Straight Days

February 14, 1999

CARRABASSETT VALLEY, Maine (AP) _ It’s simply called ``The Streak.″

Paul Schipper, 75, started in 1981 skiing every day that Sugarloaf USA was open, and he hasn’t stopped. Sunday was his 3,000th consecutive day of skiing.

He already was looking ahead after starting his day by skiing down the resort’s black diamond Narrow Gauge trail. He wants to extend the streak to 5,000, which would take another 10 years.

``It’s something to shoot for,″ he said. ``I don’t think it’s impossible. I ski with a lot of guys who are in their 80s.″

Schipper’s streak has made a local celebrity of the former fighter pilot and commercial airline pilot.

On Saturday, he and Olympic moguls gold medalist Jonny Moseley led a parade that included several hundred children who skied down the mountain. People were still congratulating him Sunday.

Schipper retired from flying in 1972 to do something he always wanted to do: open a ski lodge and ski every day. He sold the Lumberjack Lodge two years ago, but he stills skis every day.

``He’s still the iron man,″ his son, Jeff Schipper, said. ``No one thought it would go this far.″

It hasn’t always been easy.

Schipper has skied in horrible conditions, including rain, blizzards and minus-70 windchills.

Two years ago, he broke a thumb during a spill but never stopped skiing. He brought the handle of the ski pole with him to the doctor’s office so a cast could be made to fit around it.

In the spring of 1993, Schipper delayed surgery to remove a cancerous kidney so he could keep skiing. In 1995, he underwent triple bypass heart surgery during the off-season. The heart surgeon also replaced one of his heart valves with a valve from a pig.

Both times, Schipper recuperated in time to resume his streak when the snow began falling in late October.

Recently, it’s been easy.

``It hasn’t been that hard lately,″ Schipper said. ``It’s become a routine.″

Schipper is wearing a helmet for the first time this year. He also has the latest hourglass-shaped parabolic skis.

``I’m not as fast as I used to be,″ he said. ``When I’m with a group, I’m tail-end Charlie. I used to be leading the group.″

The way he talked Sunday, skiing every day for another 10 years seems like no big deal.

``The way I feel, I don’t see why I can’t do it,″ he said. ``This year it’s going good.″

But he occasionally thinks about the day he must quit. It’s an idea his wife doesn’t entertain.

``He’ll keep it up,″ said Christine Schipper, a Tennessee native who doesn’t like the cold. ``If he doesn’t want to, I’ll force him. It gets him out.″

``I can’t imagine getting up and saying I don’t have to do it any more,″ Schipper said. ``So I’ll stick to it.″

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