Ryan Ford.
Ryan Ford.

Portrait of a traceur as a young man

Ryan Ford, featured in this week's cover story, "Colorado's Parkour Pioneers are Running With It," knows his way around an interview. The accomplished parkour practitioner, or traceur, has been profiled by the likes of ESPN and the New Yorker. When I sat down recently with Ford for my story, I asked the unassuming 22-year-old how he prepared for all his occasions in the spotlight.

He never does anything in particular to prepare, he responded -- that is, except for his first-ever news interview, which he was pretty nervous about. That interview was with me in 2005.

Back then, I was an editor at the Boulder Weekly who happened to catch a TV special about the nascent discipline of parkour and immediately wanted to find someone doing it in Colorado. An online search led me to Colorado Parkour, a Yahoo newsgroup started not long before by recent Golden High School grad Ryan Ford.

Ford and a few of his colleagues invited me to Red Rocks Amphitheatre -- one of their favorite parkour practice spots and now a well-recognized parkour destination -- to watch them strut their stuff. While at the time he'd been involved with parkour for less than two years, Ford was already accomplished in the discipline, doing cat leaps onto building walls, vaulting from one boulder to the next and doing underbar dives through railings. He was also almost eerily serene and self-possessed for an 18-year old -- composure that would serve him well in the coming years as he gained recognition and media attention for being one of the best traceurs around.

"It's always kind of been in me," Ford told me at the time. And while he was busy getting ready for freshman year at the University of Colorado at Boulder (he graduated from there last month), he was also excited about sticking with parkour, which was rapidly growing in popularity.

"It's getting really big," he said. And like any good traceur, he was going to run with it. To check out the story, click here.

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