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- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
In the women's competition, Miss Henneberger lashed on a pair of borrowed skis—she had come to America to model clothes and only decided to race at the last moment—and sailed down the course 1.3 seconds ahead of Miss Saubert. Since Germans, even pretty ones, are not eligible for U.S. national ski championships, Miss Saubert was the winner—kind of. Nancy Greene, a Canadian who is eligible for U.S. ski championships by some decree that also includes Japanese—while omitting Germans, Swiss and Laplanders—was third. The timer fouled up here, too, and for a while Linda Meyers of Mammoth Lakes, Calif. was believed to be the winner. "Not so," said Barbi Henneberger. "Saubert or Nancy Greene might beat me but not Linda. She isn't skiing that fast. Last year maybe, but not now." Barbi's Teutonic logic proved correct; Linda Meyers eventually found herself eighth. "Next year," said a disgusted official, "we're switching to Timex."
Miss Saubert beat Miss Henneberger by .8 second over a very difficult giant slalom course on Friday, with Miss Greene once again third, and Starr Walton, another Californian, in fourth place, a notch ahead of Miss Meyers. Miss Henneberger was unhappy with her skis and with the course, which she felt was too icy and fast, and with herself, for trying to "win very big," as she said. "I wanted to show them something." Jean Saubert, who did most of the showing, grinned. "It was a very nice course," she said.
It was over this same course, extended, for the men, another 1,200 feet in length up the mountain, that Jos Minsch put on perhaps the week's most sensational individual performance. When the 21-year-old Swiss champion moved into the starting gate, he was a man with a mission. He had twice finished second to Werner at Sun Valley and, as he said later, "I was tired of finishing second." Werner was already down in 2:58.8, clearly in the lead over two Army men who were to ski well all through the meet, Rip McManus, formerly of Stowe, Vt. and Milford, Conn., and Jimmy Barrier, out of Kalispell, Mont. So Minsch set out to catch Werner. Minsch is a very strong, well-conditioned skier, with huge, powerful legs, and the terribly demanding giant slalom course on Mt. Alyeska was perfect for his driving style. He slammed down the upper run and past the tree line like an attacking hawk; when he burst around the last curve and down across the finish, everyone knew that Jos Minsch had gone very fast. The clock, working now, confirmed it. His time was 2:55.8, more than three unbelievable seconds under Werner and days ahead of the rest of the field. When Willy Favre, Minsch's 19-year-old teammate, grabbed third place away from the Americans, Bob Beattie was crushed.
"How can we expect to go over there and beat a mountain full of them," he said, "when we let two of them come over here and beat us all? I guess you have to expect to lose to a fellow like Minsch once in a while. He's good. There's no doubt about that. But the other—he had no business finishing up there. I don't know whether we're catching up or not." The next day, when the slalom was held on Max's Mountain, Beattie found out. Minsch, less impressive as a slalom racer, struggled hard to finish fifth after the first run and was then disqualified following a fall on his second; Favre remained on his feet to finish seventh but was never a real threat. In the meantime, Chuck Ferries took over. He led off with a 57.6 effort that proved to be the best of the day; behind him came Werner at 58.8, Marolt at 58.9, and Jimmy Heuga, another 19-year-old member of the Colorado team, at 59.4. On the second run, with the starting order reversed, Werner made a brilliant run in 59.1 for a total time of 1:57.9. Heuga, always a fine slalom racer, skied well but at 2:02.0 was still far behind. Marolt fell. Then it was up to Ferries.
"I didn't think about taking it easy," Chuck said later. "Not once. This is supposed to be my race, but I hadn't won a slalom since the Broadmoor in January. I knew Buddy's time, and I saw Heuga, skiing real well, yet he didn't catch up. The course seemed to be holding up pretty well, but I couldn't be sure. I had to go all out."
When Chuck Ferries skis slalom well, no one skis it any better. And no one skis better under pressure. He came down like a snake through the bright flags, over 1,480 feet of Max's Mountain, slipping past the crowd lining the course, driving on toward the furiously spinning second hand at the bottom. When he crossed the finish line, the second hand had stopped at 59.2; the total was 1:56.8, and Buddy Werner was runner-up again.
"Great race, Chuck," Werner said.
"About time," Ferries said.
Even on one ski
Miss Henneberger's victory was easier only because Jean Saubert fell. Three gates from the bottom, the Oregon State junior hooked a tip, spun around and hit the packed snow, very hard. Both of her relase bindings popped and she came out of her skis. She could have won the combined championship merely by sliding across the line. "I would have tried it even on one ski," she said later, "but I didn't have any skis left." So she grinned and walked down to congratulate Barbi. Second place—and the American title—went to Sandra Shellworth, one of three female members of Bob Beattie's Colorado ski team, a tall (5 feet 7½) 18-year-old whose father is the mayor of Boise, Idaho. Eleanor Bennett of St. Regis, Mont. finished third.