Tarver badly injured in speed event
February 27, 2002
Charlie Tarver, a former Aspen mayoral candidate and well-known local businessman, was seriously injured Tuesday while participating in the U.S. Speed Skiing National Championships at Snowmass.
Tarver, owner of the Hub of Aspen bike shop, was taking part in a speed mountain biking demonstration when he crashed on Slot, the steep race course that parallels the Sam’s Knob lift. Tarver was attempting to surpass his personal speed record on a mountain bike of 104 mph when he lost control just after 1 p.m.
Snowmass ski patrollers “arrived on the scene immediately, began emergency procedures and transported Tarver to an ambulance, where he was taken to Aspen Valley Hospital,” according to a statement from the Aspen Skiing Co. Tarver arrived at the AVH emergency room at 1:37 p.m. and was airlifted to St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Junction two hours later.
A St. Mary’s spokesperson said Tarver was in serious condition last night. He was in the hospital’s intensive care unit with a closed head injury.
The spokesperson said Tarver did not suffer spinal cord injuries.
Speed skier and event organizer Jeff Hamilton said Tarver had hit 96 mph before crashing. On Monday, Tarver made two successful runs down the course, said race official Bill Miller. Tuesday afternoon, during Tarver’s first run of the day, he was attempting to increase his speed by starting higher on the course than before, a practice skiers employ that enables them to gradually work up to their top speeds.
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Though Hamilton did not see the accident, he said he was able to glean information from witnesses.
The crash apparently occurred just as Tarver had completed his run down the race course and was preparing to slow down. He was wearing a helmet, as were the other competitors.
“He completed his run, but at the end of the run there’s a little roll,” Hamilton said. “He veered left over the roll and caught some air … and it looked like he flipped over the handlebars.”
Witnesses said Tarver landed on his head and slid for about 200 yards in the run-out area before officials at the base rushed into his path to bring him to a stop. Tarver apparently lost consciousness after the initial impact, witnesses said.
A Snowmass ski patroller said Tarver was bleeding from a head wound and had an injury to one of his hands and wrist. The patroller added that Tarver was demonstrating involuntary movement in his arms and legs, an indication that he did not sustain a spinal cord injury.
Following the crash, Hamilton and other race officials decided to bar other cyclists from racing on the course.
“Bikes are out now,” Hamilton said. “Bikes are always a questionable thing – should you run bikes on it? But we let them make the call. Conditions were right. But when someone wrecks like that, sometimes you gotta say, ‘Let’s stop this.’ Unfortunately, it’s a little too rolly for the bikers.”
Tarver, 39, has made a name for himself during his 18 years in Aspen for his obsession with cycling, his outspoken nature and his attire. No matter the weather conditions, winter or summer, he is always easily spotted riding his bike in a pair of shorts and clogs, sans socks.
“I love this town. I get off on this place,” he said during an interview before last May’s mayoral election. “I want to protect it, I want to take care of it. Aspen is part of me, and I’m part of Aspen.”
He has competed in, and won, 100-mile races in Vail and Leadville, the 24 Hours of Moab endurance race, numerous races with the Aspen Cycling Club, and cyclocross events, which include extreme obstacle courses for cyclists.
One of Aspen’s few registered Republicans, he has long been involved in local politics and has also been a voice, not always a welcome one, for the town’s business community. He served on the county’s Planning and Zoning Commission before resigning over a dispute regarding proposed growth-management legislation. He currently serves on a city committee which is studying infill housing options in Aspen.
In last May’s mayoral election, Tarver unsuccessfully sought the seat held by Rachel Richards in a four-way election. That race was eventually won by Helen Klanderud.