A mad season for ‘Mad Cow’ | AspenTimes.com

A mad season for ‘Mad Cow’

Tim Mutrie

With a World Cup title in tow, Basalt’s John “Mad Cow” Hembel won the Pro Mondial speed-skiing race last week in Les Arcs, France.

Hembel, 35, who claimed his first World Cup crystal globe in Sweden earlier this month, won the first event of the spring at speed skiing’s mecca, Les Arcs, with a top speed of 144.48 mph (or 231.51 kmph).

Holland’s Merign Vunderink was second at 231.36 kmph, and Martin Lachaud of France and Jukka Viitasaari of Finland tied for third at 230.62 kmph.

Hembel’s latest victory followed his biggest win- the overall World Cup title near Hundfjallet, Sweden. It puncutuated a career season that has included five wins and eight podium finishes in nine races.

But while the World Cup season is over, Hembel’s season is not. The fastest skiers in the world are staying on at Les Arcs (where Hembel set a new North American record of 153.01 mph last spring) for the final event of the season this weekend and, perhaps more importantly, a shot at a new world record.

The 150-mph club numbers only 10 worldwide, and the only American delegates are Aspenites: Hembel and Jeff Hamilton. Hamilton, 36, was the founding member; he also won four World Cup titles.

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The current record, 155.4 mph, belongs to Frenchman Philippe Goitschel. In that same race, Hembel had posted 153.01 mph.

“I feel like I’ve had an incredible season,” Hembel said in an e-mail,” but I would not have felt complete without winning in Les Arcs.

“Most of my goals have been met this season with the exception of setting a new world record. … Maybe I’ll get the chance.”