Aspen Cancels "24 Hours" Race


ASPEN, Colo. Oct. 23, 2003 (AP)--One of the more grueling endurance competitions in skiing, the 24 Hours of Aspen, won't be scheduled this year.

The Aspen Skiing Co. on Wednesday said the event simply ran out of time after six months of searching unsuccessfully for a title sponsor.

John Rigney, the company's director of event marketing, said the company had postponed the announcement until the last possible moment.

Audi stepped down from the top marketing spot after last year's mid-December event.

``We had no more warm leads, the race is just six weeks out, it was time to pull the plug,'' Rigney said.

The race always has been used to raise money for local and national charities, but will not be on the schedule for the first time in 15 years. It has not always been held those years, because of cancellations forced by the weather.

The 24 Hours of Aspen is the second race crossed off the resort's calendar this year. The women's World Cup races that in recent years have been held on Aspen Mountain over Thanksgiving weekend are also off.

Rigney said money was the biggest hurdle for the 24 Hours event. The company was seeking a $350,000 annual commitment, an amount that only represents one-third to one-half the total cost of title sponsorship once all the other marketing costs are added in.

The competition also was changed last year. It had involved two-person teams racing for the entire 24 hours, but last year teams were replaced with solo racers.

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