24 Hours of Aspen running out of time? | AspenTimes.com

24 Hours of Aspen running out of time?

Aspen Skiing Co. vice president David Perry said yesterday that a final decision on the 24 Hours of Aspen ski race will be made by the end of this week or early next week.

Perry said Skico officials are still talking to potential sponsors for the event, but he admitted that things weren’t looking good for the 15-year-old race, at one point describing the situation as “frantic.” If a sponsor isn’t found, the mid-December race will be canceled.

The 24 Hours of Aspen is a day-long race in which individual racers try to complete as many top-to-bottom laps on Aspen Mountain as possible in the shortest cumulative on-snow time. The company lights up a course down the mountain. Racers basically tuck from the Sundeck to the bottom of Little Nell, ride up the gondola and do it again.

For its first 13 years, the race, which started as a fund-raiser for the Fight against Muscular Dystrophy, was a team event, with two racers skiing together. If one racer had to drop out, they both did. Last year the format was changed to a solo event, and it was won by Aspenite and Olympian Casey Puckett. The race has always been centered around a charity fund-raiser.

Perry said the Skico has been trying to find a title sponsor since Audi said it did not want to continue in the role. Audi has given up other sponsorships around the country this year, Perry said, so he doesn’t think the German auto giant’s decision says anything in particular about the 24 Hours of Aspen.

Finding a new title sponsor willing to fork over $350,000 has proven difficult in the current economic climate, as many companies, not just Audi, have been more cautious about how they spend their marketing dollars.

“It’s a very expensive event to put on and to sponsor,” Perry said. “Corporate sponsors are hard to attract right now.”

Perry said he and others in the Skico marketing department are pushing the deadline out as far as they can to see if they can net a sponsor. But with the 24 Hours race day just eight weeks away, he isn’t especially optimistic.

But “we have not closed the door entirely,” he said.

[Allyn Harvey’s e-mail address is aharvey@aspentimes.com]

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