For the Record

Dispatches, July 1998

For the Record
By Todd Balf and Paul Kvinta (with Stephen Smith)

Crossover Cycling

"I'm trying to stay levelheaded," says Cadel Evans, remarking on his April victory in the World Cup cross-country mountain-bike race in Silves, Portugal. "But all the attention has caught me by surprise." Ironically, it's not Evans's lead in the 1998 Grundig World Cup standings, but his road-racing wins that are creating the fuss. At the Tour of Tasmania in January, the 21-year-old Australian thrashed 1997 Tour de France stage winner Neil Stephens. By March, cycling gurus were labeling Evans potential Tour de France material. But if his dirt-to-pavement crossover seems increasingly likely, it probably won't happen soon. He already has a three-year contract with the Volvo-Cannondale mountain-bike team and is a gold-medal pick for the cross-country event at the Sydney Summer Games. "He's got the motor and the physique," says team manager Charlie Livermore. "He can do anything he wants."

Running for the Money
"The hunt is on," declares four-time Boston Marathon champion Bill Rodgers, commenting on the zeal with which aspiring record-setters laid siege to the Rotterdam, Boston, and London marathons in April. But alas, no one could crack Ethiopian Belayneh Densimo's decade-old world best of 2:06:50 — although in Boston, Kenya's Moses Tanui came up just 44 seconds short of the mark. By far the most impressive run belonged to a woman: 24-year-old Kenyan Tegla Loroupe bested Ingrid Kristiansen's 1985 world record of 2:21:06 by more than a minute at Rotterdam, pocketing a $150,000 bonus in the process. Meanwhile, with the men's mark still up for grabs, competition for increasingly lucrative cash incentives — including New Balance's $1 million pledge to any American who breaks the barrier — only gets more intense. "I'd be amazed," predicts Rodgers, "if the record lasted the year."

Patrick de Gayardon, 1960-1998
When French sky diver Patrick de Gayardon fell to his death in April during a routine exercise over Mokuleia, Hawaii, it wasn't surprising that his fatal jump from 13,000 feet was also one of his most innovative. De Gayardon, after all, had spent the last decade popularizing aerial daredevilry through ever more dazzling feats from record-setting altitudes — including a 1993 dive into a Mexican sinkhole (top photo). On his final stunt, the 38-year-old two-time world champion was experimenting with a winged suit that he had designed to prolong free fall. Both of his parachutes failed to deploy. According to an FAA investigator, de Gayardon might have made modifications to his harness in an effort to achieve more lift — adjustments that may have caused his main chute to malfunction and become tangled with his reserve chute. "Knowing who he is, you just can't believe something like that could have happened," says veteran sky diver Bob Greiner. "He was a visionary — and this was a simple, horrible mistake."

And the Motel Six on Main Street Has a Great Weekend Rate
As you embark on that big family vacation this summer, pause to consider the plight of Port Clements, British Columbia. The town of 500 in the Queen Charlotte Islands has seen its lifeblood of tourists slow to a desultory trickle after losing both of its major attractions. First, a disgruntled lumberjack took a chain saw to a 350-year-old, 200-foot-tall conifer that was revered by the native Haida people and that, the town claims, was the world's only golden spruce. Then Baby Bird, a rare albino raven also sacred to the Haida, accidentally flew into an electric transformer. In desperation, Port Clements has now resorted to perhaps the most dolorous sales pitch in the history of North American tourism: It is urging visitors to come and view the hapless raven's stuffed carcass at the local museum (admission, $2). "Baby Bird was larger than life — a raven times ten!" declares local newspaper columnist Pat Fricker. "He may have passed on, but the people will still come."

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