Aspen man fifth at Alaska’s Arctic Man Classic |

Aspen man fifth at Alaska’s Arctic Man Classic

Max Vadnais
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
Contributed photoAspen snowboarder Ross Andrews and sled driver Ryan Sottosanti take part in the recent Arctic Man Ski and SnoGo Classic in Alaska's Hoo Doo Mountains.

While the lower 48 struggled to keep resorts open this winter, Alaska stood alone when it came to snowfall totals – with some areas breaking records.

Every year, hundreds of the nation’s best racers and snowmobilers head to The Last Frontier to compete in the Arctic Man Ski and SnoGo Classic in the Hoo Doo Mountains, which is unorthodox to say the least. The 15,000-spectator race is the ultimate test of a snowmobiler’s skills and a skier/snowboarder’s fitness.

The skiers and snowboarders start at 5,800 feet, and then descend some 1,700 feet in roughly 2 miles on a groomed race course, through a valley and into a canyon. There, they are then met by their snowmobiling partner and towed uphill about 2.5 miles at speeds of up to 90 mph.

At the release point, the pair separate and the skiers and snowboarders slingshot down another 1,200 feet to the finish line.

Aspen snowboarder Ross Andrews teamed with Ryan Sottosanti to finish fifth with a total time of 5 minutes, 30 seconds. The duo was clocked at “only 71 mph” at the release point, Andrews said; the chewed-up race course almost caused Sottosanti to roll his machine with Andrews in tow.

“I really wanted to win, but just being a part of this was a great experience,” Andrews said. “Great people and a great event up here in Alaska, what could be better?”

The 53-team field included five women’s ski teams, six women’s snowboard teams, 28 men’s ski teams and 14 men’s snowboard teams. The duos hailed from all over the country – including California, Minnesota, Oregon, Montana and Colorado – and spectators ventured from as far away as New Mexico and Florida.

The 2012 men’s snowboard field included two-time Olympian and six-time Winter X gold medalist Nate Holland, 2006 Olympian Jayson Hale, World Cup podium performer Pat Holland and Chelone Miller, brother of downhill legend Bode Miller.

Out of the 14 men’s snowboard teams to enter, eight failed to finish.

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