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The American Inferno

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  • #16
    me too

    thanx harkin!

    rog

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    • #17
      Much appreciated Harkin. Keep it coming.

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      • #18
        Harkin that is awesome. Thank you so much for sharing it! I wonder how fasti could do it on the super bros.....
        I am downwind.

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        • #19
          Phone call with Bill Beck!

          Well, much to my disappointment, my work schedule will not allow me to attend this year's VT Ski Museum's Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony this Saturday night (10/24). With that realization, I decided to pick up the phone and call Bill Beck, one of this year's four honorees, and winner of the last American Inferno race on Mt. Washington on Sunday, April 13, 1952.

          The main reason for my call, as I'd stated in an earlier post in this thread, was to ascertain the starting point for the '52 Inferno, which, as it was ambiguously stated in that Time Magazine article from 4/21/52, started three-quarters of the way up the mountain, because of bad weather on the top 1000 vertical feet of the summit. It was this differential of starting points that made it difficult to compare the times of Beck's winning '52 run and Toni Matt's '39 legendary run. Matt's starting point was just below the cone at Camden Cottage, as it also was for the '33 and '34 Infernos, but Beck's was some distance lower.

          Well, I got the straight dope from Mr. Beck just a few moments ago!

          He said that because of bad weather higher up, the '52 Inferno Race started at the top of the Headwall. We then talked about how his time might be compared to Matt's run 13 years earlier, given that difference in starting points. I said that I'd bet it would have only taken Matt about a minute to pass the starting point of the '52 race, but Bill said that it may have been a little more than a minute. Still, he continued: "We talked about it a year or two later, about how my time would be compared to Matt's, and distance for distance, I DID beat his time. Of course, in the 13 years from '39 to '52 there was a great advancement in equipment and waxing as well, so that would have had an effect, too."

          So, with all this new information coming to light, Matt's legendary run was 6:29.3 minutes, and Beck's run was 4:14 minutes. If you subtract, say, one minute and ten seconds from Matt's time to equalize the difference in starting points, that makes Matt's time from Beck's starting point 5:19, give or take a few seconds. At 4:14, Beck would have beaten Matt by over a minute!

          Sorry to be such a ski history geek/wonk, but I am really tickled to have this piece of ski history put in it's proper perspective once and for all!

          I will say, Bill was very eager to talk about this episode, and was very animated in his conversation. He thanked me profusely for my interest in establishing the proper historical record and for taking the time to call.
          As we were about to say goodbye, he said "Wait just a moment", at which point he held the phone out to the room and I could hear Mrs. Beck in the background thanking me, and that she could already tell that my call had made Bill's night.

          What an honor!
          Last edited by Harkin Banks; 10-23-2009, 12:23 AM.
          Fools run schuss where angels fear to stem.

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          • #20
            Originally posted by Harkin Banks View Post
            Well, much my disappointment, my work schedule will not allow me to attend this year's VT Ski Museum's Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony this Saturday night (10/24). With that realization, I decided to pick up the phone and call Bill Beck, one of this year's four honorees, and winner of the last American Inferno race on Mt. Washington on Sunday, April 13, 1952.

            The main reason for my call, as I'd stated in an earlier post in this thread, was to ascertain the starting point for the '52 Inferno, which, as it was ambiguously stated in that Time Magazine article from 4/21/52, started three-quarters of the way up the mountain, because of bad weather on the top 1000 vertical feet of the summit. It was this differential of starting points that made it difficult to compare the times of Beck's winning '52 run and Toni Matt's '39 legendary run. Matt's starting point was just below the cone at Camden Cottage, as it also was for the '33 and '34 Infernos, but Beck's was some distance lower.

            Well, I got the straight dope from Mr. Beck just a few moments ago!

            He said that the '52 Inferno, because of bad weather higher up, started at the top of the Headwall. We then talked about how his time might be compared to Matt's run 13 years earlier, given that difference in starting points. I said that I'd bet it would have only taken Matt about a minute to pass the starting point of the '52 race, but Bill said that it may have been a little more than a minute. Still, he continued: "We talked about it a year or two later, about how my time would be compared to Matt's, and distance for distance, I DID beat his time. Of course, in the 13 years from '39 to '52 there was a great advancement in equipment and waxing as well, so that would have had an effect, too."

            So, with all this new information coming to light, Matt's legendary run was 6:29.3 minutes, and Beck's run was 4:14 minutes. If you subtract, say, one minute and ten seconds from Matt's time to equalize the difference in starting points, that makes Matt's time from Beck's starting point 5:19, give or take a few seconds. At 4:14, Beck would have beaten Matt by over a minute!

            Sorry to be such a ski history geek/wonk, but I am really tickled to have this piece of ski history put in it's proper perspective once and for all!

            I will say, Bill was very eager to talk about this episode, and was very animated in his conversation. He thanked me profusely for my interest in establishing the proper historical record and for taking the time to call.
            As we were about to say goodbye, he said "Wait just a moment", at which point he held the phone out to the room and I could hear Mrs. Beck in the background thanking me, and that she could already tell that my call had made Bill's night.

            What an honor!
            now THAT is a great freaking story.
            I am downwind.

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            • #21
              Originally posted by gpetrics View Post
              now THAT is a great freaking story.
              Thanks, Greg!
              Maybe you could create a subset of famousinternetskihistorians!
              Fools run schuss where angels fear to stem.

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              • #22
                Originally posted by Harkin Banks View Post
                Thanks, Greg!
                Maybe you could create a subset of famousinternetskihistorians!
                I'm actually thinking of opening up a ski history blog as a sub section of the website to give us somethign to do in the off season... i have no real ideas about what it would look like yet, but basically i'm just thinking of a weekly assignment to find an historical article and add it to the blog, and maybe even post occasional results of original ski history research... could compliment and/or give inspiration to our current exploits... if you have any ideas contact me through my profile on the site

                www.famousinternetskiers.com/greg

                i'd like to get a dialogue of ideas going with you to see if it's worth opening something up which could potentially be used as a permenant place to store your findings...
                I am downwind.

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                • #23
                  Durrance-A Close 2nd?

                  It was close to fifty years after his legendary schuss in the 1939 Inferno that I heard a gray, but hardly retiring, Toni Matt tell a dining room crowd in North Conway's Eastern Slope Inn that he never really intended to straight-line the headwall. He had missed his first turn near the lip and after that, there was just no slowing down. In a 1983 Sports Illustrated article by Robert Sullivan, Toni Matt tells it another way: "On the way up, I thought I would make a few turns on the headwall. When I came over the lip, the snow looked so good and smooth that I asked myself, 'Why not?' I just spread my skis and let go."

                  Dick Durrance, who dominated the 1934 and 1935 Infernos, was runner up that day; one minute, one second behind Toni Matt. Durrance tells the story through John Jerome, in his 1995 biography, The Man on the Medal. Durrance threw in a couple sideslips on the headwall, which no doubt would have made him slower than Matt on that part of the course, but he claimed there was no way Matt beat him in a six and a half minute race by over a minute. America's best ski racer had just skied too well to lose by that much. Some of the racers and officials agreed that Matt could not have gained a full minute on Durrance by outskiing him on the headwall alone.

                  Over time, the Toni Matt legend grew and Durrance moved on to become an icon in ski racing and filmmaking, but Durrance was still chewing on that one minute, one second. He tries to set the record straight in Jerome's book. In the day, with no electronic timing equipment, race officials relied on synchronized stop-watches to mark the times. Once started in synch, one clock was hiked to the start and the other left at the finish. Recorders at the both ends of the course had to keep the running order and the lap times straight while the starter had to see that the racers started at regular, one-minute intervals. Durrance was scheduled to start 3rd, Matt 4th. Up at the start, in Durrances words, "There was confusion about stragglers coming up and they changed the start <order>". Matt ended up starting 3rd, and Durrance 4th, exactly a minute later than he was supposed to.

                  Joe Dodge, the AMC huts manager, had a radio set up with the summit observatory and was likely running the timing that day, as he had in the first two Infernos. He was probably at the center of the controversy when the jury gathered to decide who won and by how much. Apparantly the wireless between the summit and the finish was not as strong a link in the chain of communication as one might hope. Bill Putnam included Joe's brief account of the '39 race in his 1986 biography of the old hutman. In that paragraph, Joe says nothing of the controversy. Of course alot of what the colorful "Mayor of Porky Gulch" said couldn't be printed anywhere, but he was known as a man devoted to "fact and truth" and one would assume that official times that day received his blessing. Durrance would like us to believe that the start times were mixed up. He still conceded the race to Matt saying, "Matt did beat me, perhaps by exactly one second."
                  Last edited by gucci; 11-04-2009, 06:13 AM. Reason: misspell

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                  • #24
                    But wouldn't that also mean that Matt's time was a minute slower?
                    Doubtful, given the fact that he was a world-class downhiller.
                    I guess I'll have to go back and reread that great book.
                    Great input, though, Gucci! Gotta love Tux history!
                    Fools run schuss where angels fear to stem.

                    Comment


                    • #25
                      Great stories--great thread! Rep-tempted-worthy for sure!
                      "Information is not knowledge
                      Knowledge is not wisdom
                      Wisdom is not truth
                      Truth is not beauty
                      Beauty is not love
                      Love is not music
                      Music is THE BEST."

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                      • #26
                        gucci

                        very believable and interesting story, wouldn't be surprised to find human error in keeping track of times back then and 1 second is more believable than 1 minute and a second

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