Germans Retain Title in 50K of Coronet


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Queenstown, New Zealand, July 31, 2001–Germany retained the Compaq 50K of Coronet title, after an all-night alpine ski endurance race.

From the first lap, the German squad (Martin Fiala, Michael Brunner, and Christian Diesenbeck) made it clear they would put their stamp on the race again, and it was a tough act to follow, despite challenges from Norway and Canada. In the opening laps, they set a cracking lap time of 48.8, which Canada later equaled.

When the final whistle blew at 10am this morning, Germany had completed 94 laps in 1 hour 18 minutes and 32 seconds. Norway achieved 93 laps in 1:18.15, while Canada, also on 93, finished close behind in 1:18.32. The highly rated Australian men’s team could only manage a fourth place (93 laps; 1:18.44). The New Zealand team of Richard Hansen, Luis Breitfuss, and Nigel Gardiner completed 93 laps in 1:19.49 to take fifth place after lying in seventh for much of the race.

Japan was sixth (93 laps; 1:20.15), Slovenia seventh (93; 1:20.55), and the Australian women (93; 1:24.19) beat the US women (92; 1:25.09) to claim eighth slot. The women’s race developed into an exciting “event within an event” as both teams kept the pressure on throughout the night.

Competitors from last year found this year’s course more demanding. Conditions created by rain earlier in the week caused rutting in the early hours of the morning, forcing organizers to call a halt for course maintenance. Once the repairs were complete and the racers were back on course, the intensity lifted to a new level–a radar recorded speeds of up to 131 km amongst the leading contenders.

German captain Martin Fiala was delighted to hold on to the Janey Blair Memorial Trophy for a second year. He said the race was tougher this year and the Norwegians in particular were very strong opponents.

The Compaq 50K raises money for the Cure Kids charity, which funds research for children’s life threatening illnesses. A check for $151,000, more than double last year’s total, was presented to the charity at the official closing ceremony. The Queenstown Alpine Ski Team received a further donation of $29,000 for providing the bulk of the 200 person volunteer workforce.

Chairman of the Child Health Research Foundation, Roy Austin, gushed over the support for Cure Kids: “The passion and energy the community shows is infectious and we are indebted to Queenstown for what they have contributed to the kids of New Zealand.”

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