First skateboard ride in Antarctica


In a few days, my brother Mike plans to announce his candidacy for the City Council of his hometown, Beaufort, South Carolina. In support of his candidacy, some recognition of his early achievements seems apropos here.

It is little-known but true that my brother was the first human being to ride a skateboard on the continent of Antarctica.

Years after the event, he confided that the dearth of useful macadam in that frozen place and his teammates’ seeming indifference to his achievement diminished any initial excitement that he may have felt. But he persevered.

Mike’s journal records that the permafrost was rough that day and, if he’d expected an audience, choosing the morning after Super Bowl Sunday for his first attempt meant almost certain disappointment.

Nevertheless, the ride was a success: a few solitary kick turns behind a desultory Quonset hut, a wind-assisted Ollie down on the Fuel Dock, the satisfaction of scratching up some curious, yellow-blue lichens in a frozen half-track trail, and the record was his.

I like to think that it was the measure of Mike’s maturity that he came to learn, as many men never do, that heroism is the impetus to try fresh things and not the residue of recognition we expect from them.

And I think that it was in this spirit that he undertook his subsequent expedition to become the first North American to windsurf above the Arctic Circle.

He’ll make a fine Councilman.