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Racers try to catch Canadiens as thermometer plunges

Tim Mutrie

Here’s a town that loves its ski racing.

Hundreds of local volunteers weathered frigid temperatures into the night Monday to ensure that the 24 Hours of Aspen endurance ski race would go on.

Severe weather Sunday forced a 24-hour delay of the start – from noon Sunday till noon Monday – which effectively decimated more than half of the 700-person volunteer army. Their departure because of scheduling threatened the race. But like any great army fighting the good fight, the ranks were shored. Some volunteers were even inducted right off the street.

“We got the word out and everyone stepped to it,” 24 Hours volunteer coordinator May Eynon said last night. “But we were real worried [yesterday] morning.”

With 24 laps down and a third of the race completed by 8 p.m. last night, the Canadian team of Rob Bosinger and Roman Torn held the narrowest of leads over Switzerland in the men’s division. Australia was holding on to third, followed by New Zealand, Austria, Ireland, U.S. and Italy.

In the women’s division, the U.S. team of Charlotte Moats and Noel Lyons-McMenamy enjoyed a half-minute lead over Asia Jenkins and Heather Paul of the Aspen women’s team. A racer with the Switzerland men’s team reportedly crashed around 8 p.m., though he continued on with the mishap only setting the team back about 20 seconds.

With temperatures on top of Aspen Mountain registering well below zero as darkness fell last night, racers were fighting the cold as much as fatigue. However, reports from racers and crew last night indicated that racers were staying warm, thanks in part to the blankets, hot packs and steaming food and drink made available to racers for each ride up the gondola.

With all the recent snow, ski technicians at the top of the course concentrated on one thing yesterday – wax.

Tyler Johnson, who planned to keep the skis of the Aspen women’s team in shape through noon today, said he was using colder waxes as the night wore on. He said the racers weren’t having problems with keeping edges sharp. Eating right all night The Austrian team of Steven Lee and Shaun Turner planned to eat sirloin steak and potatoes when they got hungry last night. For Lyons-McMenamy and Moats, it was tuna fish sandwiches all afternoon.

Forty to 50 pounds of pasta had already been consumed by racers last night at 8 p.m. The 20 athletes also snacked on chicken, turkey vegetable soup, hot Powerade, cocoa and hot bottled water.

“Whatever they want, we’ll run to City Market and get it – ’til it closes anyway,” said Ken Boucher, a food committee member and former chef who is a seven-year 24 Hours volunteer. “I’ve already been five times tonight” for things like pasta sauce, olive oil and other necessities, he said.

Racers, crew and volunteers planned to keep plugging away through the night, working toward today’s expected finish at noon.


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