Just a few weeks ago, freestyle skiing aficionados set their focus on Colorado during the annual Winter X Games, where a worldwide audience could witness the sort of stunning, gravity-defying stunts that leave casual skiers breathless.
Likely without knowing it, many of the competitors could trace some of the roots of their sport to Edward James Lincoln.
A lifelong slope hound and a pioneer of freestyle skiing in the early 1970s, Mr. Lincoln died Jan. 19 from a progressive illness. He was 55.
"There are good skiers, and there are expert skiers," said Mr. Lincoln's father, Jim Lincoln. "Then there is another level. Ed and the guys he started out with were so far above everyone else. During those freestyle years, it was an emerging sport. It had never been done before so they were teaching themselves. Ed, because of his talent, became a mentor for others."
Mr. Lincoln, who lived in Lakewood, is survived by his wife, Sharon; two children, Travis and Kayley; his parents, Jim and Marty Lincoln; one brother; and one sister.
Mr. Lincoln, born on Aug. 16, 1953, in Portland, Ore., arrived in Jefferson County in 1959 after his parents, who had met at the University of Colorado 10 years earlier, decided to return to the area.
With his parents leading the way as avid skiers, Mr. Lincoln and his siblings quickly became regulars at Arapahoe Basin. It was Ed Lincoln, though, who rose above the pack, emerging as an awe-inspiring freestylist by the time he graduated from Bear Creek High School in 1972.
"There was only one thing wrong with college for Ed, and that was that classes were during the day," Jim Lincoln said. "After high school, almost everything he did the next 10 years was about skiing. At Arapahoe Basin, there was a formation where if you skied down rapidly right at it, it would eject you into the air. Ed would get substantial height. They called it the 'Roman Candle,' and for many years it was known as that to the people in the ski patrol. That was part of his aerial adventures."
Mr. Lincoln enjoyed success on the international freestyle circuit throughout the '70s and supplemented his income as a ski instructor. He patented his own move, the Lincoln Loop, which earned him the nickname "Loop." His prowess also caught the eye of Hollywood movie producers, who used Mr. Lincoln as a stunt double in the skiing sequences of many films, most notably the James Bond movie The Spy Who Loved Me.
A spate of knee and leg injuries eventually eroded his competitive career even as his sport slowly gained a wider audience. Mr. Lincoln also dabbled in real estate and construction ventures, although he kept hitting the slopes as recently as the beginning of the current ski season, bundled in knee braces.
"I enjoyed so much his ability to advise me," Jim Lincoln said. "He was a marvelous teacher. His mentoring, his teaching, his coaching was something he was meant to do. So many people benefited from what he taught."