Skiing all day, all night at Sunlight | AspenTimes.com

Skiing all day, all night at Sunlight

Nate Peterson

There will be no free rides at the first 24 Hours of Sunlight.Unlike the defunct 24 Hours of Aspen, which offered gondola service for competitors, the new 24-hour skiing competition at the Glenwood Springs’ resort will make contestants earn every inch they ski.Renowned Aspen ski mountaineer Mike Marolt had the initial idea for the new race, which begins at 10 a.m. on Feb. 11 and ends at the same time on Feb. 12. The event will raise funds for the Heuqa Center, an Edwards-based non-profit that helps those afflicted with multiple sclerosis.Because of the climbing aspect of the race, a number of notable mountaineers are expected to compete, including Lou Dawson of Carbondale. Dawson plans on putting together a group of four to compete in the team division.”[Mountaineering] is what I do. I’m not a ski racer. I’m a 53-year-old man who is all broken down, but it seemed like a fun thing to do,” Dawson said. “With these types of things, there’s a lot of camaraderie and they can be a lot of fun. It’s interesting when you put yourself in a structure like that and see what kind of personal best you can accomplish.”Canadian mountaineer Greg Hill has a goal of not only setting a personal record, but a world record.Hill will attempt to ski 50,000 vertical feet during the 24-hour window, a mark that would set a new Guinness World Record . Hill holds the current unofficial record for the most human-powered vertical feet climbed and skied, having completed 80,340 feet in 21 hours and 6 minutes. The track for the race is Beaujolais, a run that starts at 8,152 feet and climbs an average grade of 17 percent to reach 9,675. One lap equates to 3,046 feet, or 1,523 feet of climbing and 1,523 feet of skiing.”I always knew that for a true huge vertical day, it would have to be in a very controlled area where no trail has to be broken and there’s no avalanche terrain to negotiate,” Hill said. “Simply a race up and down a groomed resort. Sunlight Mountain Resort is an ideal venue to gain that vert and go for the world record.””Doing one lap on this course isn’t difficult,” added Marolt, who will also be competing in the solo division. “Linking five or six laps at race pace for 24 hours straight, that’s going to be hard.”Dawson, who is helping Marolt with the fundraising side of the event, doesn’t see the race as a replacement for the 24 Hours of Aspen. The race in Aspen was more of a spectacle that was designed to attract competitors with a racing background, Dawson said.Casey Puckett, who won the 2002 24 Hours of Aspen, agreed with Dawson, noting that he has no intentions of competing at Sunlight. Puckett is a former member of the U.S. Ski Team, and competed at four Winter Olympics.”That sounds like a lot of fun, but you probably won’t see me doing that,” Puckett said, when asked about the climbing aspect of the race. Katie Fry, who teamed with Puckett’s wife, Kate, in 1993 to make up the first women’s duo team to compete at 24 Hours of Aspen, also said she doesn’t plan on entering the race.”To be honest, I didn’t even know it was going on,” Fry said. “I think my knees are too old … I probably know some people who would love to do that, but not me.”To go with the divisions for solo competitors and the four-person teams, there is also a category for five person teams and a duo division. The race is open to snowboarders and skiers of all abilities. A silent auction and gala will be held at the Hotel Colorado on Friday night to raise more funds for the Heuqa Center. There will also be vendor villages and live entertainment to keep racers and spectators entertained on Saturday and Sunday, as well as an après ski party from 3-5 p.m. Saturday and a midnight madness party. Following the conclusion of the race Sunday is an awards ceremony at noon and a hot springs party and brunch from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.The race is run by Granny Gear Productions, the same company that puts on the 24 Hours of Moab mountain bike endurance race in Utah.”It’s kind of a neat concept,” Dawson said. “Instead of worrying about how fast you can go or how hard you can go, you’re just trying to take a certain pace and do the most of something in a certain time period. It’s got a lot of appeal.”More information on the race can be found at http://www.24hoursofsunlight.com.Nate Peterson’s e-mail address is npeterson@aspentimes.com