Olympic champion Ortlieb joins 24 Hours of Aspen | AspenTimes.com

Olympic champion Ortlieb joins 24 Hours of Aspen

Austrian skiing sensation Patrick Ortlieb, who captured gold in the downhill in the 1992 Olympics in Albertville as well as numerous other World Cup wins throughout his career, will join 10 other international teams in the 1999 Gulfstream 24 Hours of Aspen.

The Gulfstream 24 Hours of Aspen, regarded as the world championships of endurance skiing, is scheduled for noon on Dec. 12 until noon Dec. 13, 1999, on Aspen Mountain.

The international field of 11 teams from 10 countries will represent Aspen, Australia, Austria, Canada, Germany, Italy, New Zealand, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland and the United States.

Ortlieb with ski with partner Tobias Barnerssoi.

Racers will ski for 24 continuous hours competing for the title of “World’s Toughest Skiers” and racing to help raise money for two local charities.

Defending champions, the United States men’s team and Aspen locals Chris Davenport and Tyler Williams will not return to defend their title, leaving the victory podium open for a new team of racers.

This year’s event will feature more first-time racers than the event has seen in recent years, with only two teams returning, the Aspen men and New Zealand.

German National Team racer Martin Fiala, who competed in ’95 but did not finish due to a knee injury, has returned and is racing with a new partner.

Due to a lack of available female racers, for the first time since 1991 there will be no women competing in the race.

Aspen local Kate McBride, who competed for six years straight beginning in ’93 and holds the women’s record for 80 laps and 261,360 vertical feet with teammate Anda Rojs, retired after last year’s event.

“We had a number of different U.S. and international women’s teams who were interested, but for a variety of conflicts, couldn’t compete this year. We will definitely look to bring the women back for the 2000 race,” said event director Debbie Patrick.

Zach and Reggie Crist of Sun Valley, Idaho, will represent the United States, while Peter McBride and Bryan Sax, who are returning for their third straight year, though only their second as teammates, will ski for Aspen.

Sax took a spectacular crash on The Little Nell run last year and was forced to pull out with a concussion.

Teammate McBride continued racing solo and finished with 77 laps and 251,559 vertical feet, despite the team’s disqualification.

“You’ve gotta have a screw loose to do this again,” said McBride.

“Bryan and I are best friends. I can’t think of anyone I’d rather go through the pain, adrenaline pump, speed and exhaustion with. Bottom line – the pain is worth it because this race is all about helping the kids.”

Deemed the “24 Hours of Pain,” the event forces racers to struggle not only with the technical challenges of the mountain, but also with intense fatigue, sleep deprivation, changing weather conditions and a battle to stay acutely alert. Their only rest is on the 14-minute gondola ride to the summit.

Last year’s event raised a record $1.2 million for Andrea Jaeger’s Silver Lining Foundation, a nonprofit organization that brings children with life-threatening medical conditions to Aspen for a week of adventure.

It also benefited the Aspen Valley Ski/Snowboard Club Scholarship Program, which ensures that any child in the Roaring Fork Valley can enjoy snow sports, regardless of economic situations.

More than 700 community members volunteer for this charity event. Volunteers are responsible for everything from “catching” racers and giving them massages in the gondola to tuning racers’ skis and cooking pasta through the day and night.

Those interested in volunteering can contact the “volunteer hotline” at (970) 920-0969.

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