‘Mad Cow’ clocked at 101 mph to win in Austria
Basalt’s John “Mad Cow” Hembel won the first European speed skiing event of the season Friday and Saturday at Goldeck Ski Resort in Spittal, Austria.
Hembel, 34, posted the fastest speed of the event during the quarterfinals on Friday, at 162.29 kmh or 101 mph. Hembel was a full 2.28 kmh faster than the competition then, and he continued to dominate every run thereafter.
Hembel, a five-year speed skiing competitor, is also the current U.S. and North America record holder. In April of last year at Les Arcs, France, Hembel joined the 150 mph club with a top speed of 153.01 mph.
The previous record belonged to Hembel’s speed skiing mentor, friend and former Aspen resident Jeff Hamilton. Hamilton was the first man to break the 150 mph mark back in 1995, and he owned the North America record from 1997 to 2002 with a speed of 151.01 mph.
Hembel now ranks at No. 5 among speed skiing’s ultra-elite, along with just 10 others who have cracked the 150 mph plateau on skis. Hembel and Hamilton remain the only Americans.
“Goldeck is about 170 kilometers south of Salzburg,” Hembel said in an e-mail Tuesday. “It’s a fairly small resort rising above the town of Spittal, but it is an official candidate for the 2005 FIS Speed Skiing World Championships, as well as being a speed ski training center, with open training throughout the season.
“Approximately 40 racers from seven different countries arrived as early as last Tuesday to begin testing the recently formed track. The track is an imposing spectacle, with a drop-in of approximately 50 degrees and a total length of 475 meters. Although many areas in Austria have seen decent snowfall in the last few weeks, Goldeck is in need of additional coverage, which made race conditions interesting, and seemed to keep speeds in check,” Hembel added.
Competitors included the 2002 FIS World Champion, Philippe May of Switzerland; the winner of the 2001 World Championships, Jukka Vitasaari of Finland; and many more of the world’s top-ranked racers who are preparing for the FIS World Championship series, beginning Thursday in Altaussee, Austria.
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Vail and Beaver Creek resorts Senior Communications Manager John Plack said the company agrees with the state’s assessment that the ski industry must be out-front in its approach to ensure a safe and successful season in Colorado.