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It's Been a Long Climb but Werner Is Still Going Up at Age 63

October 02, 1994|STEVE HENSON

Once again, Sanford Werner had reached the end of his rope.

And he could not have been more happy.

Werner, 63, climbed a 20-foot rope in 4.8 seconds to win his age-group championship at the Senior Olympics gymnastics meet last week at Valley College.

The effort was a far cry from the world record of 3.1 seconds he once held. But give this lifelong rope-climber some slack; the record was set in 1951.

"Racing up a rope, hands only, is the same thrill it always was," said Werner, a consulting geologist who went to Canoga Park High. "We want to prove that just because you are old, you aren't dead."

Finishing second with a time of 4.9 was Bob Hammond, 61, wrestling coach at Chatsworth High. Hammond is a former NCAA rope-climbing champion.

Talk about a gripping tale. The meet attracted legends of rope climbing, an event popular made popular because of its use in military training.

Two of Werner's former coaches from more than 40 years ago showed up. They were a bit frayed at the edges but are going strong.

Frank Doig, 86, was Werner's coach at L.A. City College when he set the world record in the National Amateur Athletic Union championships. And Richard Bishop, who won a bronze medal in gymnastics in the 1932 Olympics, was Werner's coach at Roosevelt High in 1949.

"I hadn't seen Frank since 1951," Werner said. Doig was gymnastics coach at LACC from 1938-73 and was the all-around national collegiate champion at USC in the early 1930s.

Also attending was Ben Bass, a retired admiral who won the gold medal in rope climbing at the 1932 Olympics, the last year the event was contested in the Games.

About 30 gymnasts competed in the meet, which has been held at Valley for several years.

"We do this for the camaraderie and for the fitness," Werner said. "We like to say, 'Old rope climbers never die, they just keep reaching for the sky.' "


Whale of a time: The whale-watching season near the Channel Islands is drawing to a close, but an exhibit that opened Saturday at the Burbank Gallery of the L.A. County Museum of Natural History offers a comprehensive look at the world's largest mammals.

"It is a very interactive display," said John Heyning, curator of the exhibit.

"It is interesting to children and the lay public while also illustrating how complex ecological issues are that affect whales."

In addition to seven whale models, the exhibit includes underwater habitats, a whaling boat and items that illustrate whale lore.

The exhibit will remain in Burbank until January, then will travel for five years to museums through the United States and Canada.

Visit the exhibit, then see the real thing next summer when blue whales and humpback whales visit the waters near the Channel Islands.


Oh, deer: Hunting season for bucks begins Saturday in five Southern California zones.

Forest fires that consumed thousands of acres in Los Angeles County last summer have diminished the areas accessible for hunting, meaning that many hunters will be crowding along relatively few roads.

Last year, about 7,000 licenses were issued in the Southland and an estimated 500 bucks were killed, according to the California Department of Fish and Game.

About 1,500 tags are still available for Zone D13, located mainly in Ventura and Kern counties.


Roll 'em: The Brunswick Matador Bowl in Northridge busted loose like 10 pins during the Jan. 17 earthquake, and has taken a lot longer to reset. But the alley finally will reopen Oct. 15 and has been improved during the $2.25 million renovation.

New color overhead scorers have been installed and the alley has expanded from 24 to 28 lanes.

"Everything internally is new," said Warren Flanigan, a Brunswick vice president. "We had severe roof damage and replaced two walls."

The Matador Bowl is one of four Brunswick alleys damaged by the earthquake. Alleys in Van Nuys and Simi Valley opened within a month of the temblor and one in Granada Hills will not reopen at all.


Repeat performance: The Ventura Sailing Club won the Ventura Cup recently for the second year in a row. The Ventura Yacht Club finished second. Dick Velthoen, city manager of Port Hueneme, skippered his J-35, Rival, to first place in the five-race regatta to lead the Ventura Sailing Club.

Also competing for the Ventura Sailing Club, which scored 371 points to win by 35 points, were Adam Glickman (fourth overall), Steve Maseda and Mike Dunmire.

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