This season's 24 Hours of Aspen race contained spills, thrills, heroics, and even surprise winners.
Aspen/Snowmass Village, CO, Dec. 19, 2000 -- After 24 hours of racing, it came down to 20 seconds. The young Swiss team of Arno Hoenicke and Robert Moze took advantage of a midnight spill by the Canadians, then held off the other more experienced racers to claim victory in the 12th Annual Audi 24 Hours of Aspen and earn the $25,000 first prize.
The top three teams all completed 72 laps and skied a total of 235,224 vertical feet. The Swiss finished the race in 2:52:13 followed by the Canadian team -- Rob Bosinger and Roman Torn -- which was 20 seconds behind. The third-place team, Australians Steven Lee and Shaun Turner, finished in 2:52:33. In the women's division, the United States' women's team of Noel Lyons-McMenamy and Charlotte Moats completed 71 laps in 3:08:11 to hold off the Aspen women's team and grab the $10,000 first prize.
Ten teams started the race at noon on Monday, December 18. All managed to withstand the cold, darkness and fatigue, skiing through the night as the temperature plummeted to minus seven. Incredibly, all teams were still in the race until 5 a.m. on Tuesday morning when New Zealand racer Richard Hanson took a face-first fall at 70 miles per hour and was forced to withdraw from the race. After a brief visit to the hospital, Hanson returned to themountain to support his teammate. With just two hours left, after 22 long hours of racing, there were more dramatics to come.
After launching off a roller two-thirds of the way down the course, U.S. racer Christian Woll caught an edge and went down hard. He was taken to the hospital and preliminary reports were that he sustained a broken collarbone and a knee injury. His partner, Alan Beyer, the oldest competitor in the race at 40, finished the race alone.
Moments later, Italian racer Andrea Dezza lost a ski and was forced to navigate the rest of the course on one ski. Part of the way down he removed his ski and was sliding down on his boots when he was upended and face planted on the ice. Determined to finish the race, his partner, Francesco Bianchetti, shouldered Dezza and skied the remainder of the run with his teammate on his back. The crowds roared as the Italians crossed the finish line and boarded the gondola to continue the race.
The event raised over $400,000 for Challenge Aspen and the Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club. Challenge Aspen is one of the premiere non-profit programs for disabled individuals in the United States, and the Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club is a non-profit group that provides youths the opportunity to ski or snowboard regardless of their economic background.