Wehrman, Carson stay perfect in Enduro
ARAPAHOE BASIN – Rex Wehrman and Chris Carson, albeit a little late to the party, are still No. 1.After entering at the behest of friends who refused to let them sit out, the undefeated tandem of extreme skiers won their fourth Enduro title in as many tries together at the 16th annual race Wednesday, cementing their standing as Arapahoe Basin’s best.It was the sixth Enduro crown for Wehrman, who along with Carson used a late-afternoon push to overtake early leaders Drew Gibson and Jason “Sodapop” Anthony and finish with 64 trips down the steep walls of snow-covered intimidation served by the famed Palivacinni lift.Gibson and Anthony also skied 64 runs, but Wehrman and Carson did it faster to win the bragging rights – not cash or prizes – that go along with an Enduro victory.”The first five hours were real tough, Rex was dragging me around,” said Carson, a freestyle coach for Team Summit. “Then finally, I found my groove and I was able to tow him around for a while.””It’s a constant cycle,” Wehrman added. “You have to pull each other through.”
Until the midway point, sometime around noon, it appeared the unbeatens would fall. Gibson and Anthony led by nearly three minutes before they tired, and the champs woke up.”We thought they had us,” said Wehrman, multiple times the extreme skiing national champion. “We thought we were done.”Gibson, a seasoned Enduro veteran, knew better.”We were hoping, but you can never count Chris and Rex out because they’re so fast later in the day,” he said. “We got a little tired about three quarters of the way through it. And those guys were just flying.”Ironically, it was Gibson who helped coerce the victorious pair to enter the night before. Carson, 38, and Wehrman, 35, then showed up at 6:30 a.m. to register, a half hour before the competition’s traditional LeMans-style start.The 34 teams of two raced on foot to their skis after the starting boom, then boarded the Pali lift together for the beginning of 10 hours of will-testing pain.On the women’s side, Breckenridge roommates Sarah Carr and Courtney Whitman tamed Pali’s bumped pitches and chutes better than any other. How’d they do it?
“By not thinking about it, closing our eyes and just going down,” said Whitman, a human resources employee at the Basin who talked Carr into entering.The pair of 20-somethings finished with 61 laps, a total that opened more than a few eyes among the 40 or so spectators who weathered the rapidly dropping late-afternoon temperatures.Jody Thompson and Micki Thomas took second among the women with 58 laps.Although the teams finished on soft, slushy snow, they did their early skiing on a bulletproof surface more suited for hockey skates. That was why, despite the tight battle of front-runners that promoted faster skiing, Wehrman and Carson’s record of 68 laps was never threatened.Always a fundraiser for someone or something, this year’s Enduro benefited longtime A-Basin ski patroller Todd Trenchard, who was recently diagnosed with cancer.Trenchard competed on Wednesday, though not at the same strength as when he won the Enduro alongside Wehrman in the early ’90s – the first of Wehrman’s half dozen titles.The fact that it was for Trenchard made it easier for Gibson to convince Wehrman and Carson to enter.
“It was kind of a gathering of tribes,” Gibson said. “Chris and Rex belong doing the Enduro. … And those guys are such good friends of mine that I just couldn’t bear all of us being here without them, even though they didn’t want to do it.”Oliver Holmes, who used 64 laps to win the 15th Enduro last year with Alex Brooks, skied 61 runs with Jamie Ober to take third. Todd Bullis and Daniel Pierce also finished with 61 laps, the same number they achieved the year before.Trevor Gagstetter and Doug Evans matched Mike Duckworth and Scott Winn at an even 60 laps. The father-son telemark team of Leif and Ian Borgeson, who is just 11, managed an impressive 59 laps.Competing on snowbikes, believed to be an Enduro first, Roger Hollenbeck and Chris Marriott finished with 58 runs. Brandon Major and Jozy Gessner topped the unofficial juniors division with 55 runs.”Grateful” Ed Boardman, as usual, made the trip from Crested Butte to compete. He remains the only person to take part in every Enduro.Devon O’Neil can be contacted at (970) 668-3998, ext. 231, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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