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Speedy Guy

posted: 09/27/2002
by Tom Bie

On april 23, less than three weeks after austrian Harry Egger beat his own world speed-skiing record of 154.16 miles per hour (which had stood since May of 1999) by .11 miles per hour, Frenchman Philippe Goitschel crushed the record at Les Arcs, France, with a speed of 250.7 kilometers per hour (155.434 miles per hour), becoming the first person to top the elusive 250 kilometer-per-hour mark.

"It was like skydiving on snow," Goitschel says. Except that a skier has a more involved deceleration. After the course flattens, he explains, a speed skier needs to stay in his tuck for the length of two football fields before he can stand up. He then needs another 100 yards before he can turn 'em sideways.

Because of conditions, a speed skier only gets a shot at breaking the record once every season or so. "It is very big luck to make one attempt a year at a world record," says Goitschel. The 40-year-old won a silver medal in speed skiing at the 1992 Winter Games in Albertville, France-the first, last, and only time it was an Olympic event. Not that he's done yet: When asked about an online report that he was retiring, the World Champion responded curtly, "Who said I'm retiring?"

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