24 Hours runs on Swiss time
After a whole day of (mostly) nonstop racing, less than 30 seconds separated the runners-up from the men’s and women’s winners of the 12th annual 24 Hours of Aspen.
For Arno Hoenicke and Robert Moze of Switzerland, the race was won in the witching hour of midnight, almost exactly halfway through the event on lap 35, when they eclipsed Rob Bosinger and Roman Torn of Canada. The 20-something ski instructors, with matching hairdos dyed red for the occasion, hung on through 72 laps for a 20-second win over the charging former national team downhillers from the Great White North.
The Aspen Mountain course “was really fast at night and we took advantage of that,” Moze said after the race. “Every ski was the same for us so we could make the same times every time.”
“I don’t know what [wax] our ski [techs] used. It’s not important though, we’re first,” the grinning champion added.
The sole 24 Hours veteran in the 20-person field, 38-year-old Noel Lyons-McMenamy led her U.S. women’s team partner Charlotte Moats in a fight to withstand a last-ditch rally from Aspen women’s teammates Heather Paul of Crested Butte and Asia Jenkins of Aspen.
Trailing by over a minute at sunrise Tuesday, Jenkins and Paul whittled the lead down to 26 seconds at the noontime finish.
Trailing the Swiss and Canadians in the men’s division was Australia in third, about a minute back, followed by Austria, Ireland and Italy.
Power outages and crashes caused several “course holds” during the race, which precipitated some confusion about whether the race would be extended beyond noon to accommodate for lost racing time. At 11:47 a.m. Tuesday the Swiss team expected to go up for another run or more when they skied back into the gondola building. Instead, race officials informed the two of their victory.
Jenkins was disappointed with the circumstances (as were the Canadians), but she and Paul graciously commended the skiing of Noel-McMenamy and Moats.
“We skied solid every run,” said Paul. “We had a couple bobbles, but we skied great. And I had a shitload of fun.
“We finished and we’re real happy with that,” she added.
Lyons-McMenamy and Moats, a youngster at 20 whose next stop this winter is the Canadian Freeskiing Championships at Whistler/Blackcomb, earned $10,000 in the first year of cash prizes in the 24 Hours. The Swiss seized the $25,000 check, the runner-up Canadians collected $10,000, and third-place Aussie finishers Steven Lee and Shaun Turner were awarded $5,000.
The event’s less fortunate included U.S. men’s team racer Christian Woll, who became the first Kleenex Corner casualty at 10:57 p.m. Monday and was later knocked out of the race in another fall two hours before the noontime finish. According to fellow U.S. men’s team racer Alan Beyer, who like Guy Davies of New Zealand went on to finish solo, Woll sustained a broken collarbone and possibly a torn ACL in the crash just beneath Chair Three.
Kleenex Corner, the 90-degree left-hand turn that funnels racers from Spar Gulch into Little Nell, was also the site of Canadian racer Rob Bosinger’s costly crash at 12:03 a.m. Tuesday.
Bosinger and partner Torn held an early advantage over the Swiss, and the foursome shared at least seven cramped gondola rides together before midnight, neither team willing to concede any advantage.
The crash set the Canadians back about 20 seconds, the eventual margin of defeat.
“I’m pleased to finish,” Bosinger said, “but I came down hoping to win. Finishing is everyone’s goal, and hey, if you can win or place, that’s great.”
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