Anchorage teams win Arctic Man

Posted: Sunday, April 13, 2003

8 FAIRBANKS (AP) -- No fog rolled in, no snow fell and, as a result, a record dropped Friday at the 18th annual Arctic Man Ski and Sno-Go Classic.

Skier Sacha Gros, 28, and snowmobile driver Tyson Johnson, 23, both of Anchorage, set a course record with a time of 4 minutes, 4.46 seconds.

That was 12 seconds faster than the previous record of 4:17.29 for the 5.5-mile course.

The Arctic Man is a daredevil event held in the Hoodoo Mountains off the Richardson Highway near Summit Lake, three hours southeast of Fairbanks.

A skier or snowboarder rockets down a 1,700 foot slow to a winding canyon, grabs a towline from a moving snowmobiler and hangs on for an uphill ride back to about 1,200 feet. The pair can reach speeds over 80 mph before the snowmobile driver jets off to the right and releases the snowboarder or skier for a final downhill spurt.

Race director Howard Thies had predicted the course record, set in 1997, would fall because of hard and fast track conditions.

Gros and Johnson won the event for the second straight year.

''It was like going from a rally course to the Indy 500,'' said Gros, who competed on the U.S. Men's Olympic Ski Team in 1998.

They were just two seconds faster than skier Eric Heil and driver Len Story. Third place went to Petr Kakes of Oregon and Fairbanks driver John Martin in 4:12.47.

In the women's ski race, skier Aurore De Maulmont, a former University of Alaska Anchorage student and NCAA giant slalom champ, teamed with driver Tammy Barber to win in 4:21.13, more than 20 seconds ahead of runners-up Lena Mashburn and driver Michelle Maynor of Palmer.

De Maulmont wore a speed suit that she had not trained with. She said she was surprised by her speed out of the starting line.

Barber, 28, is an experienced driver.

''I've been riding for 26 years,'' she told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. ''I live in Willow. That's all we do.''

Snowboarder Dayton Young and driver Len Story, both of Anchorage, won the men's snowboarding race in 4:43.91. Boarder Ryan McDonald of Washington and Kenai driver Lane Giesler were second at 4:46.05.

Tina Harmon of Girdwood and driver Kim Woodbury of Big Lake won the women's snowboarding race in 5:45.92. They were the only one of three teams to finish.

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