Cool runnings: Noblesville residents recently competed in national toboggan championships


Noblesville resident Geoff Davis grew up in Carmel, where the neighborhood sledding hill in his backyard attracted kids with sleds and toboggans.

His love for tobogganing having grown through the years, Davis built his own toboggan took a group of four people up to Camden, Maine, to compete in the Feb. 11-13 U.S. National Toboggan Championships.

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Geoff Davis buckles his helmet in preparation for the toboggan championship.

Davis, a woodworker, reached out to his friend Joe Rudy in January about participating in the championships.

“I said, ‘We need to go on an adventure’ because we’d been planning canoe trips to the Adirondacks, but they’ve closed some areas for the season, so we were looking for something else,” Davis said. “I said, ‘Let’s go compete in the nationals. Let’s go to Camden.’ And he said, ‘Hell, yes, we should go.’”

Davis and Rudy, also a Noblesville resident, quickly added two members to their team, which they dubbed the Hoosier Hotshots. The other team members were Ken Bubp of Noblesville and Miles Morosi of Colorado Springs, Colo.

In tobogganing, all four members lay on the toboggan at once and then race down a hill.

“The race isn’t super technical,” Davis said. “You mount on a toboggan-sized platform at the top of the hill. The mount is tip-tabled up and sends us down the hill.”

The Hoosier Hotshots created a GoFundMe to help cover expenses for building the toboggan and travel. The team raised approximately $4,000. Davis held a toboggan-building day where members of the community watched him build the toboggan. Some even helped.

During the competition, the Hoosier Hotshots’ toboggan hit speeds of approximately 40 mph. Although they didn’t reach the finals, Davis said the team finished in the top half of the field and, more important, had a great time.

Team members ranged in age from 17 (Morosi) to 59 (Davis).

Next year, Davis wants to help organize a women’s team for the championships.

Davis built his first toboggan in 2018 when he was the maker-in-residence at Hamilton East Public Library in Fishers.

“I wanted to do a culminating project for my time there and do something that was an alternative to Black Friday,” he said. “I wanted to give people something more interesting to do.”

At the time, Davis had never built a toboggan but always wanted to because of his sledding experience. Toboggan construction uses a wood-bending method, where the maker steams the wood and bends it into the end shape.

“Traditions are important, and a toboggan is the epitome of a traditional sled,” Davis said.

Maine, where Davis has traditionally spent his summers the past 20 years, has also influenced his work.

“All my work goes back to my experience in Maine and trying to reclaim that,” Davis said. “Whenever I have an excuse to go to Maine, I take it.”

Local documentary filmmaker and 12 Stars Media CEO Rocky Walls joined the four-man team on its trip to Maine. Walls filmed the team’s participation to turn into a documentary.

“‘Hey, I’ve got a film pitch for you,’ is a message I get from time to time,” Walls said. “Sometimes the idea is a good fit and sometimes it’s not. When Geoff Davis texted me those exact words over the holiday break, it didn’t take long to convince me. At 12 Stars Media, we tell the stories of interesting characters who inspire communities to make positive changes.

“Geoff, Ken, Joe and Miles certainly are characters, and the rest of this project has all the right ingredients, too – community building, the traditional arts and just the right amount of crazy.”

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The Hoosier Hotshots, consisting of Noblesville residents Geoff Davis, Joe Rudy, Ken Bubp and Coloroado Springs, Colo., resident Miles Morosi, compete in the U.S. National Toboggan Championships. (Photos courtesy of 12 Stars Media)

What’s in a name?

Geoff Davis was inspired to name his toboggan team the Hoosier Hotshots because the name’s history. The Hoosier Hotshots was a four-person jazz band in Hamilton County in the 1930s.

“Nobody’s heard of them because they were so hokey,” said Davis, who created the Hoosier Hotshots toboggan team.

The GoFundMe page the team created allowed it to raise enough money to design helmets. Helmets aren’t required for the toboggan tournament but are permitted. The helmets had  the names of the original Hoosier Hotshots band members on the side.