Telluride Library & Bookstore: "Tracking The Wild Coomba,” 11/12


Saturday, November 12, 6 p.m., Telluride’s Wilkinson Public Library and Between the Covers Bookstore present “Tracking the Wild Coomba,” a reading, book-signing, and slideshow featuring author Rob Cocuzzo and Doug Coombs’ friend and admirer, adventurer-photographer Ace Kvale.

Scroll to the end of this book review for an interview with Ace, the person responsible for many of the unbelievable photographs of Coombs in action in Rob’s eloquent, heartfelt tribute.



“Tracking The Wild Coomba,” The Life of Legendary Skier Doug Coombs, by Robert Cocuzzo

Rob Cocuzzo

Rob Cocuzzo

In his introduction, author Cocuzzo describes his first impressions of Coombs’ skiing. This excerpt will give the reader a glimpse of the legend in action:

“He looks like a surfer deep in the belly of a giant wave, the mountain looming over him and falling out from beneath his feet. And yet amid the chaos, the skier descends the mountain with fluidity that transcends athleticism. Doug Coombs looks like a genius at work.”

Doug Coombs in the Church, Ace Kvale photo

Doug Coombs in the Chugach, Ace Kvale photo

In his youth, Cocuzzo was inspired by video clips of Coombs’ skiing, knowing next to nothing about the person. That inspiration led to his moving to Jackson Hole in 2011, several years after the accident that took Doug Coombs’ life.

So began the journey of the acolyte to follow the trail of the master: Coombs was still very much alive in the memories of the people Cocuzzo met in Jackson.

In the course of his four-year quest, Cocuzzo interviewed family members, including Coobs’ widow Emily, his mother and sister, close friends, skiing stars from the edge of the Coombs constellation, and some of the skiers who were there the day he slipped over the edge of the cliff in La Grave.

Doug Coombs, La Grave, France, Ace Kvale photo

Doug Coombs, La Grave, France, Ace Kvale photo

The book is a beautiful, often very emotional description of the life of Doug Coombs. It also tracks the maturation of the author, as he grows from callow seeker into insightful chronicler, with the patience to allow others to tell their stories. Hearing those stories, especially from those who knew Coombs in La Grave, raised the hair on the back of my neck. I suspect they will do the same to you.

Listen to the final stanza in Rob Cocuzzo’s introduction:

“…as I boarded a flight to the remote French village of La Grave, where he spent the last days of his life, I realized that through some cosmic energy, Doug Coombs had taken me on the greatest adventure of my life.”

Ace Kvale

Ace Kvale

As for Ace, what does he have to say about his friend and mentor? Check out his podcast here.

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Clint Viebrock

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