At 82, Ben Coleman has done just about every adrenaline-rush-inducing activity he has gotten hands on.
He recently won first place for his age group in the NASTAR National Championship, a skiing competition held at Winter Park in March.
The championship lasted two days, and contestants ran two races a day. Coleman, who has lived in Longmont for 22 years, took first place in all four of those races.
"I didn't plan on anything; I just did it for the fun of it," he said.
Coleman, a self-taught skier, has been skiing since his days in junior high, when he and his friends would catch the train to Winter Park, stay in bunkhouses and ski all weekend.
Coleman's passion for skiing didn't end there. After winning the state championship for wrestling in 1947, he received a scholarship to the University of Denver. Once in college, his coaches were adamant that he and his fellow wrestlers stay away from the slopes, but that didn't stop them.
"The coaches didn't want us skiing -- but we did," Coleman said.
After graduating from DU, Coleman went on to become a teacher, and for the next 32 years taught physical education and other courses at various Denver County public schools.
"Six years elementary education, and then high school from there on," he said.
Even then, as a full-time teacher, Coleman's passion for skiing refused to leave him. In the late '60s, Coleman became a ski instructor on the weekends, first at Berthoud Pass before it closed, and then at Loveland Pass for nine years.
"I could see what people were doing, weren't doing, and needed to do," said Coleman.
Aside from having fun and being able to use his talents as a teacher outside of the classroom in an environment he loved, Coleman enjoyed being a ski instructor because it allowed his children to ski for free.
Although he no longer teaches skiing lessons, he has been part of the SkiMeisters for the past 15 years. The SkiMeisters, or "the over-the-hill gang," as Coleman calls them, ski behind groups of skiers, making sure no one gets injured.
Fun has always been a prerequisite for Coleman's endeavors. And it shows. Throughout his life, Coleman has traveled the world performing various acrobatic and ice skating acts.
When Coleman and his teammates at DU trained for wrestling, they usually did so at the local YMCA. One evening while they were there, they discovered some men practicing trapeze.
"We came up one evening, and here's some old guys flying around on the ceiling," he said.
After watching the men practice, Coleman and two of his friends found the temptation impossible to resist, and decided to learn the art as well. Trapeze flying led to trampoline acrobatics, and soon Coleman and his buddies found themselves performing locally, and even at sporting events.
The trampoline and trapeze act soon gained notoriety, and before long, Coleman and his friends had hired an agent. In the late 1950s, their agent secured a job for the acrobats that had them performing their stunts across the United States for the next four years.
Although it appeared to be a job, Coleman insists it was all based on having fun. "We were playing really," he said.
Coleman's career as a trapeze artist may have been put on the back burner after his national tour, but it did not cease to exist. During the summers, Coleman still practices his trapeze flying with a Denver club, the Imperial Flyers.
"I usually do it a couple times a week," he said.
He's received an honorary lifetime membership with the club, and even built the trapeze rig they use.
"I welded it down in my basement shop," Coleman said proudly.
When the Denver native wasn't skiing or wrestling, Coleman was teaching himself how to ice skate.
"When I was in junior high and senior high, we would thumb our way over to City Park and ice skate on the lake over there," he recalled.
Years later, Coleman's talent as an ice skater would send him touring across Europe.
One day Coleman came across a sign that said, "Join Holiday on Ice and see the world." The sign left him itching for a new adventure, and he soon brought the idea to his family.
"I was practicing hand balancing in the grass with my two daughters, and I said 'Hey, would you be interested in seeing Europe?'"
His wife and third daughter consented and were soon on their way to Europe.
Coleman and his family toured through Europe from 1962 to 1965, as part of the ice show "Holiday on Ice."
The Coleman family's European adventure consisted of six-week stays in all the major cities, where they would perform every night during the week. On weekends, the family would perform twice on Saturdays and three times on Sundays.
Coleman has no plans to retire his passions. A firm believer in having fun, he has pursued his interests to the fullest.
"I couldn't have asked for a better life," he said.