Hometown: Bozeman, MT
Occupation: Extreme sports guinea pig
Best Look: Powder beard
A man leans on a bamboo pole high above the slopes in Bozeman at Montana’s Bridger Bowl. From a distance, he appears calm, even as ski patrollers throw explosives onto the snow-loaded slope directly above him. There’s a loud blast and a fracture forms in the snowpack, releasing a wall of powder that engulfs him. When his turbulent 50-meter ride down the mountain ends, all that’s visible is his turquoise sleeve, poking from the snow. This man is different from most other avalanche victims though: He always survives.
His name is Homer, and he’s a certified crash test dummy purchased in
the fall of 2006 by Montana State University’s Mechanical Engineering
department. For the past two winters, professor Robb Larson and his mostly undergraduate engineering students occaisionally hauled this 5’10”, 190 pound plastic man, dressed in on old Northface jacket and hand-me-down black pants into danger in hopes of learning what exactly happens to a human body inside an avalanche.
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