On the hill: Still learning | AspenTimes.com

On the hill: Still learning

Stewart Oksenhorn
The Aspen Times
Aspen CO Colorado

SNOWMASS – Living here nearly 20 years, and working most of those years at information central (The Aspen Times), you develop a know-it-all attitude about Aspen. So when an obvious visitor – especially one on a Snowmass ski lift on Presidents Day weekend – launches into some local history to impress an even more obvious tourist, you roll your eyes, listen closely for the most wildly inaccurate bits, and ponder whether to jump in with corrections or let the misinformation go.

Amazingly, this guy seemed to have all his facts down cold about one of Aspen’s more colorful episodes: the 1976 homocide of ski racer Spider Sabich by his girlfriend, Claudine Longet. He gave some detailed back-story – Longet’s earlier marriage to Andy Williams; the fact that the French-born Longet was not only a beauty, but quite a good singer. He pointed out, accurately, that Longet got off with a mere 30 days in jail not so much because of her explanation – that the shooting was accidental, occuring as Sabich showed her how to use the gun – but because of a botched police investigation that led to the exclusion of key evidence.

The guy knew his stuff, was a good storyteller. And then he closed with this bit of verse, new to my ears:

There once was a woman named Longet,

Came to Aspen and wanted to play.

Along came a Spider

Who sat down beside her

But she blew the poor bastard away.

• • • •

Also news to me – that big, deep, unmarked, practically invisible ditch in a patch of woods at the bottom of Snowmass’ Big Burn area. I learned about it the hard way, but thanks to my daughter Olivia, and the two guys, Dave and Bob, she hailed to come to my rescue, my tale is a few sentences on Page 2, not a screaming headline on page one. The Snowmass Ski Patrol is on the case.


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