Sunlight Mountain Resort severs ties with 24 Hours organizer
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – Sunlight Mountain Resort is going it alone to organize a replacement 12-hour endurance ski race this winter, after breaking ties with the organizer of the popular 24 Hours of Sunlight in a dispute over nonpayment of a use fee for last February’s event.
Meanwhile, the 24-hour endurance race has been officially canceled for this winter, both due to the lack of a host venue and the economy, according to race founder and director Mary Kenyon.
“The bottom line is they hadn’t paid us yet,” Sunlight General Manager Tom Jankovsky said Monday, adding the resort decided about a month ago to organize its own event this coming ski season.
“We did hear from the local community that people wanted to see an event continued, so we went with a 12-hour race,” Jankovsky said.
The event in which most participants skin up and ski down a set course on the mountain multiple times, either solo or as part of a relay team, will take place on Feb. 28, 2010, beginning at 8 a.m. and continuing until 8 that night.
Jankovsky said Sunlight charges a $4,000 vendor fee for outside events to use the ski mountain, located 10 miles southwest of Glenwood Springs.
“We have been sending bills [to the 24 Hours organizer] since the day of the race; we typically expect payment within 30 days,” he said.
But Kenyon, the owner of Aspen-based Real Time Marketing who, along with sponsor Granny Gear, founded the unique event four years ago, said she was operating on the belief that payment would be made upon receipt of preregistration money for next February’s event.
“They have sent their typical nasty e-mails, knowing that we have always paid with the early registration monies from the next year’s race because they fall within the same fiscal year,” she said.
Kenyon said she had the same arrangement with Granny Gear, which set up the electronic timing system and compiled results for the race.
“This year wouldn’t have been any different,” she said. “So, now we are scrambling to raise that money elsewhere.”
Furthermore, Kenyon said Sunlight is “too difficult to work with” and “not good hosts for this event.”
She said she was even verbally “assaulted” by a Sunlight employee near the conclusion of last winter’s event about something that had been part of the plan all along and which the employee should have known about.
“We had been working on the race all year, meeting with mountain personnel for months and this staff member – who I have never seen before – comes out and started attacking me in front of the racers,” she said.
Jankovsky said the dispute was over the serving of free beer to the participants, which can cause conflicts with Sunlight’s liquor license.
Kenyon said Sunlight e-mailed her a month ago indicating they were hosting their own event on the date reserved for 24 Hours. That was the first she’d heard that Sunlight would not be hosting her event this year.
She said she made the final decision late last week to cancel her event for this winter.
About 250 racers participated in last year’s 24 Hours race from throughout the region and North America. The event also garnered international press, she noted.
“I feel sorry for the racers that have looked forward to doing this every year,” Kenyon said. “Many of them have contacted me and understand the situation with Sunlight.”
As for future 24 hours races on the Western Slope, she said there is interest in it. “We will just have to wait and see.”
Some supporters of the event have suggested moving it onto public lands, which may be an option, Kenyon said.
“Some of the sponsors have also suggested other ski resorts where this would be embraced,” she said. “We do hope to keep it on the Western Slope, because that’s where a lot of our participants come from. It’s a great tourism event.”
“We would have liked to work it out,” she added. “But we were constantly swimming upstream with Sunlight, and there was no way to pull it off for this year.”
Jankovsky said Sunlight’s replacement event was scaled back to 12 hours because of a lack of available overnight lodging on the weekend of the full moon in February, which is a key aspect of the race to allow for safer nighttime skiing. Participants will still be able to ski in the moonlight hours during the final couple of hours of the race, he said.
Kenyon said she’s not sure how much carry over there will be of 24 Hours participants to the 12-hour event.
“People enjoyed the camaraderie over the 24-hour period – something that cannot be created by a 12-hour race,” she said. “This was a one-of-a-kind endurance race that truly tested participants from all walks of life. That’s why it attracted so many people from around the region and out of state.”
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