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July 25th, 2012 WW Staff | Featured Stories
 

Best of Portland 2012: Best Sports

bop_sports_3838Ryan Losli - IMAGE: Anna Jaye Goellner
Best Metalhead Bowler

In bowling circles, unnecessary celebrating after getting a strike or nailing that elusive 7-10 split is known as “slapping off.” It’s not something Ryan Losli allows himself to do much of. Even when he rolled a perfect game at the 2012 Portland Masters tournament, the most he would allow himself was a small fist pump. 

So when he let out a loud whoop after hitting a strike at a recent team competition at 4 Seasons Bowling Center in Hillsboro, one of the women on the opposing team took umbrage: “Oh, your mom fucking raised you right, didn’t she?” 

Losli looked slightly aghast, but quickly shot right back: “Yeah, she fucking loves me.”

“Fuck off, Losli! I’ll take you out to the parking lot!”

For such a friendly sport, tense moments like this stand out. But a little professional jealousy toward Losli is understandable, considering the attention he’s been getting of late.

His Portland Masters win in 2011 helped earned him Rookie of the Year honors from the Oregon Bowling Association, as well as a chance to compete at the national tournament in Las Vegas. “You can look for me in the standings for that one,” the 27-year-old says. “I’m somewhere down at the bottom.”

Learning that Losli is a semi-professional bowler whose day job is manning the pro shop at 4 Seasons is something of a shock if you meet him outside of that world. In every other respect, he looks just like the metalhead he is: shaggy red hair and a slight beard, with a penchant for cargo shorts and black band T-shirts. Even his friends seem perplexed when they learn of his sporting life. “No one seems to believe it at first. No one really thinks that things like this exist anymore.”

Oh, but they do. And there is big money to be had. Losli will be heading down to Baton Rouge, La., to go up against an estimated 60,000 bowlers for a $15,000 grand prize in the U.S. Bowling Congress Open Championship.

For the moment, Losli is concerned about a good showing at this team tournament. If only because, “if it pays out, I’m going to go see [prog-metal band] Animals as Leaders tonight. If not, I’ll just go do kickball instead.” ROBERT HAM.


Best Urban Existentialist Trek

The 4T (trail, tram, trolley and train) hiking loop begins, if you do it the right way, with a lurch; this is the aerial tram’s always ungainly acceleration from one highly moneyed planned development (the grimly under-tenanted South Waterfront) to another (Oregon Health & Science University). Be alone, please. After a short walk up Southwest 9th Avenue on the hill, a 4T sign will direct you to the Connor Park trailhead, and to the swift disappearance of the world you knew. 

The trail descends swiftly, down steep switchbacks, into the Shelter Trail and Marquam Ravine. The dense temperate rainforest affords no views of the city—indeed, no signs that the urban sprawl is out there—though it is never more than a half-mile away in any given direction. Of all our intra-city trails, those on both sides of the Marquam Ravine manage to exist amid some of Portland’s ugliest urban soup while betraying little of the city—neither noise nor foot traffic—until suddenly you emerge at a busy street crossing or find yourself sidling along someone’s totem-poled backyard. Perhaps this is what it is like to be a deer, and why they always seem startled. 

The path nonetheless continues, and beneath snags and pistol-butt trees the trailside is dotted with tiny five-petaled candy flowers; nature, here, apparently provides its own asterisks. But while the occasional streets and lonely houses seem comfortingly to belong where they are, when you emerge atop Council Crest, its bright green lawns and Frisbee players will seem like a violent and obscene incursion. The grass, for some reason, is the worst part. After a short slope down the bluff from there, you will feel like a stranger in a very strange land—an itinerant John Rambo at the edge of town—crossing I-26 on foot toward the zoo and its broken Icee machine, and the bracing chill of an underground MAX tunnel leading you back downtown. You won’t want to talk to anyone for at least an hour. MATTHEW KORFHAGE.


Best Antidote to Commercial Gyms

Pumping iron at Loprinzi’s Gym.
IMAGE: leahnash.com
In 1948, Eddie Bertleson had just graduated from Cleveland High School and was looking for a place to put his energies. The way he remembers it, “three of my friends, we said, ‘Hey, we got to find something to do than just driving up and down Broadway on a Saturday night,’ and one of them mentioned a new gym that had opened up on Grand Avenue.” They went and signed up, and 64 years later, Bertleson’s still there.

The gym is Loprinzi’s Gym (2414 SE 41st Ave. loprinzisgym.com), founded by Sam Loprinzi, a champion in the bodybuilding world who decided to bring what he knew to his neighborhood. Over a series of weekend welding parties, Loprinzi and his friends built the gym’s equipment—most of it still in use. Along with Johnny Johnson’s, the “ladies’ gym,” it was the only facility like it in Portland until the 1970s.

How has the gym changed since then? “It hasn’t,” says the soft-spoken current owner, Bob Hill, who started lifting there in 1965. I don’t doubt him. From the outside, the building is inconspicuous, but the second you walk inside, you know you’ve found something special.

Compared with the air-conditioned and sterile L.A. Fitness and 24 Hour Fitness, Loprinzi’s smells faintly like sweat and old leather. The giant, cast-iron weights along the back mirror were welded by a Portland smelter at Southeast 21st Avenue and Powell Boulevard. Black-and-white photos of bodybuilding stars line the walls, and a black cat, not-so-creatively named Blacky, sits curled up on the front desk. People are there to lift, not to look pretty. The clientele is a mix of young, tattooed blue-collar types and a few longtime loyal patrons like Eddie. As for personal trainers, Bob is a one-man show. And, taking a cue from Sam, he doesn’t charge.

Besides a few years he spent in Vancouver, Eddie, now a spry 83, has always done his daily lunges at Loprinzi’s. “When I first got there, I told Sam I weighed 150 lbs. I was just a beanpole, and a year from that day I weighed 180,” he recalls. “I feel real blessed that I got to know that family. My mother always told me the best thing I ever did was join that gym.” KIMBERLY HURSH.


Best Touchy-Feeler

Peter Gold has a gift—or so he’s been told. “Soon after beginning massage school, I began feeling as though I had an unfair advantage over my classmates,” he explains. “My teachers called it a gift.” That’s right: Gold has the gift of magic hands. The licensed massage therapist has been working in Portland (407 NE 12th Ave., petergoldmassage.com) for just over six years, but already he’s been embraced by the achy bodies of the Northwest, even serving as the go-to masseur for the Oregon Ballet. Gold shows his Portland appreciation in everything he uses, from locally crafted lotions and music to his Portland-built massage table. Once you’re on the table, he’s happy to treat your muscles to any number of techniques, from his bread-and-butter blend of deep tissue and Swedish to his personal favorite, the intriguing four-handed massage. Whatever you need, leave it to the magic hands. “I go as deep as people need…but not too deep!” PENELOPE BASS


Best Place to Find gLove

Commuting from Alberta to PSU by bike, Dave McPabe was riding along when he looked down, saw a lone glove in need, and decided to find it a new home. So began Portland’s gLove Orphanage (gloveorphanage.blogspot.com). Rather than leave perfectly good knits to rot along the side of the road, McPabe and his friends take them home, wash them, darn their holes and find them a friend. The orphanage stockpiles their finds, then donates pairs to the Community Cycling Center, which then sells the recently reborn to Portland’s gloveless masses for $1. In the process, they’ve discovered that people are more likely to lose a left-hand glove then a right, and that dirty, crumpled socks look deceptively similar to dirty, crumpled gloves. Would the orphanage ever expand to take in these socks? “I don’t think so,” says co-gLover Heather Morrill, “that’s not really our mission. And it would be weird.” KIMBERLY HURSH.


Best Recycled Building

The Lumberyard
IMAGE: Anna Jaye Goellner

The empty lots, closeout stores and fading fast-food joints huddled along Northeast 82nd Avenue north of I-84 lack the down-market charm of the Southeast stretch of the outer east side’s main street.

But The Lumberyard (lumberyardmtb.com), a new indoor mountain and BMX biker’s dream located at 2700 NE 82nd Ave., could change the neighborhood—or at least give kids from nearby Madison High a place to go. It’s a genius idea: a derelict former bowling alley destined to rot has been transformed into what co-founders Will Heiberg and Michael Whitesel say is the first indoor bike park west of the Rockies.

Heiberg, a former video-game producer, says he visited an indoor riding park in Cleveland a few years ago and knew that bike-loving, sunshine-challenged Portland would welcome a similar facility.

“I knew it would work here,” he says. But finding the right spot was a challenge because although Portland is littered with under-used warehouses, zoning constraints limit commercial operations inside them. But the old bowling alley was already zoned commercial.

Inside the 48,000-square-foot space, there is a fast track and a slow track, ramps, jumps and even what’s called a “pump track,” where bikers move through jumps and bumps without pedaling, simply by shifting their weight. Scarred veterans and newbies alike can jump over stuff, fly through the air and perform tricks that would make their mothers very nervous. 

The ’yard rents bikes, helmets and pads ($20 for all three) and costs $14.95 per day for kids and $24.95 per day for adults. The price tag could seem steep, but it’s better exercise than playing video games or watching a movie, and a whole lot more social. Heiberg has already seen riders from the BMX/skateboard run in nearby Glenhaven Park crossing 82nd to try his facility.

Sean Meehan, 13, a Southeast Portland rider, found out about the place and visited a dozen times before its June opening. “Even though it’s bike-jumping, it feels safe,” Meehan says. “You think of BMXers as tough, messed-up drunk dudes, but the people there are really, really nice.” NIGEL JAQUISS.


Best Locked Twitter Account of a Former Portland Trail Blazer

Hall of Fame center Arvydas Sabonis, easily among the best-loved Blazers of all time, is on Twitter. But his @ArvydasSabonis account is locked, meaning we can neither read his tweets—which would probably be in his native Lithuanian anyway—nor shake down his followers to tell us what wisdom he’s dropping in his transmissions. Sabonis has only tweeted five times to date, but we’re sure each of them is amazing.

Instead we must follow another Twitter user calling himself Arvydas Sabonis: @He_Fr3akyAhHell, a sex-obsessed teenager whose last transmission as of press time was “Put your arms around me as I’m feelin on your boooooty.” CASEY JARMAN.


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