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From the basement to the mountain

By RYAN SWANSON
DCN Correspondent

When you walk into the basement of The Ski Hut on Fourth Street, you might get the image of Santa’s workshop in your head. Then you start to think. These guys down here are way cooler than elves and these toys are a little bit better than the ones Santa left for you.

Carson Spohn is one of these cool workers in the basement. He gives off the classic snowboarder vibe. He has a relaxed tone of speaking and he wears a hoody and a stocking cap.

Spohn was working on a customer’s winter mountain bike. The bike is on a hanging bike mount and the back wheel is off. Indie rock tunes are playing in the background making it feel like you’re in a snowboard video.

“This bike needs some love,? says Spohn. “This thing’s been ridden hard.?

As Spohn mounts the wheel in a vice, he talks about how the business has been this year compared to last.

“It’s been pretty normal so far this year. Last year it was crazy around here at this time,? says Spohn as he spun the wheel in the vice. The wheel wobbles. “That could be the problem, there’s two broken spokes.?

Spohn continues to say that it should get busier closer to Christmas time or when Spirit Mountain opens up for their full time hours. The Spirit Mountain Web site says that they will be fully open on December 15.

In the background, Spohn’s coworker runs a snowboard through their new edge grinder machine. The buzz of the machine may be louder than the hand tools, but it is more effective.

“That new edge grinder is awesome,? says Spohn admiring the machine. “It’s like a robot. We really don’t have to do anything for that anymore.?

Spohn’s greasy fingers get back to work on the bike. He removes the two broken spokes and places the new ones in. This time when he spins the wheel it doesn’t wobble. Spohn shows his satisfaction with a grin.

As he takes the wheel off the vice he talks a little about his background. He grew up in Duluth just up the hill from The Ski Hut. He says that he’s a snowboarder, but he started off on skis.

“I could probably ski before I could walk,? says Spohn fiddling with the wheel. “But once I tried snowboarding, skiing just got too boring.?

The winter months give Spohn an advantage to living up the hill from work. He says that when there is snow on the sidewalks he can ride his snow skate down the hill. A snow skate is like a skate board without the wheels and has a bottom like a snowboard.
“It makes going to work fun,? says Spohn.

At this point, Spohn is just about done with his work. He cleans the crud off the gears and the chain and lubes up the axle. His fingers work the bead of the tire back onto the wheel and then he fills it back up with air. He mounts everything back on the bike and it’s ready to be ridden hard again.

As you leave the basement you might notice a sticker on the ceiling that says, “If Hell freezes over, I’ll snowboard there too.?