Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Vert 180 Race Report

The Vert 180 was a great time as always, and with over 100 people it was one of the most well attended races ever held in Canada. For the race I teamed up with Paul Perrault, a friend that had never competed in a skimo race before. This made us the only pro-am team in the doubles relay category :)

With a shorter course than other years, the fastest lap times were being clocked in at under 7 minutes. Reiner Thoni, the North American champion, did 22 laps and 2750m of elevation gain to win the men's solo category. Mel Bernier took first in the solo female category with 19 laps and 2375m of elevation. In the doubles relay Paul and I won with a total of 19 laps. It was a great event! For the rest of the results check here: vert180.blogspot.ca

Now it's back to training and preparing for the rest of race season. Things are really going to take off race wise in January with three races on the books in Jackson Hole, Grand Targhee, and Whitefish. 

Thank you to everyone that came out to race, volunteer, and cheer.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Where to get Race Skins?

People are curious about race skins and where to get them, and so I thought I'd put together a post on what I've found on the interwebs during my own quest to track some down.

By "race skins", I mean climbing skins that are 100% mohair, around 62mm in width, and which work on all types race skis (for example, I have not included SkiTrab skins, because their proprietary tip connector will not fit on other makes of skis).

All prices are in Canadian dollars without shipping or tax unless otherwise stated. If sold by the metre, the price is calculated for 3 meters in the 62mm width.

- La Sportiva RSR Race = These are actually Pomoca skins, with a tip connector for $124.95 US
- Pomoca Race Pro         = With tip connector for $138.95 US

- CAMP 100% Mohair Skins = 62mm width with tip connector for $174.95 US, or buy by the metre for $113.85 US and install your own tip connector.

Telemark Pyrenees
- Colltex Race PDG   = With tip connector for $98.50
- Pomoca Race Skins = $79.86 with out tip connector. Note: Pomoca Race Skins are shown as out of stock right now.

Vertical World
- Colltex Race PDG = Without tip connector for $78.91 for 3 metres.
- Pomoca Race         = Without tip connector for $66.29 for 3 metres.

Happy skin shopping!

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Rocker: it's not just for powder skis!

It's cool to see all the innovation and new gear that is being developed for Skimo racing. One of the coolest things that I have noticed this year is rockered race skis.

Rocker was first appeared on the Volant Spatula in 2002, and now features in almost every type of ski from powder to carving. Rocker goes by meany names but the one that I think explains it best is "early rise tip." One of the advantages of rocker is that it helps keep your tips up and on top of the snow while skiing off piste

With short and narrow skimo skis this can be a challenge, and you end up having to get way in the back seat to get your tips up. This puts you in a bad position to react to the terrain and increases the burn in your legs. With rockered skis you should be able to stay more centred over your skis, save energy, and keeping a strong ski position.

Dynastar Pierra Menta RC
Dynastar's new race ski, the Pierra Menta Rocker Carbon, is one of the new rockered race skis. At 690gr, they are super light as well. Here's what Dynastar has to say about the rocker: 

"A fairly long, progressive tip-only rocker for improved terrain absorption and impeccable flotation in powder. Ski rotation is facilitated making fore/aft balance easier and reducing muscle fatigue off-piste. The flat tail means you don't lose the tail pressure required for high speed Freeride or off-piste jump landings."

Atomic's rockered race ski is the Ultimate and it weighs in at 700gr. Atomic's literature is very similar:
From Atomic
Unfortunately I have not had an opportunity to ski either of these skis so I cannot give feedback on how they ski. If you have been on either of these, or just have a favourite Skimo ski, leave a comment and let us know about them!

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Dogtooth Dash 2013

The 2013 Continental Championships are set for March 16-17 at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort's Dogtooth Dash, presented by Goretex

Hope to see you out at my favourite Canadian race and course. More information to follow! 

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Touring for all!

It is great to see the ever expanding popularity of touring and slack country skiing. Ski touring was once a fringe sport, but it is now going mainstream. Big industry names like Salomon and Look are developing new touring specific bindings, surely a sign of things to come.

From Salomon's website
Salomon signed Greg Hill to help develop products and just released their new touring binding: the Guardian 16. They are moving fast to get onboard with the new direction of recreationalists! With that being said, I don't see these bindings really catching on with the hardcore touring crowd as they weigh 800 gm more per individual binding than the Dynafit FT Radical. While some people would prefer the DIN 16 setting of the Guardian 16, I don't think that's really required for the backcountry. Take Eric Hjorleifson for example: he has been stomping lines in tech bindings that have a max DIN setting of 12. The Guardian 16 is not practical for the serious backcountry skier because of its weight, but it might be attractive to some slackcountry skiers.

Notice the Lock binding mounted on the lower ski....
From Dynastar's website
While Salomon has been working on building their own touring binding, Look has taken a totally different approach. Last week I was looking at the Dynastar website, and I noticed a picture of Look branded tech bindings mounted on the Dynastar Alti Powder. I was curious, as Look is not known as a touring oriented company.

I dug a little deeper and found this ski review from Fri Flyt, a Norwegian Ski Magazine:

From Fri Flyt website
Photo: Tore Meirik
Dynastar 2012/13 from Fri Flyt TV on Vimeo.

It appears that Look is having their tech bindings produced by Plum, and that the binding is simply a Plum Guide binding with Look branding. A close look at the photo to the right shows Plum's name printed under Look's. While Look likely isn't planning on developing a tech binding of its own, their support inevitably increases funds available to Plum for research and design.

Dynastar, Look, and Salomon are jumping on the touring bandwagon and are investing in the touring aspects of their businesses. This only means one thing in the end - better, lighter, and cheaper gear for ski tourers.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Trail Racing

As some of you may know, I have taken some time off from my job and am now training for Ski Mountaineering Competitions. Part of my training has involved doing some trail racing. I have ran three races this summer.

The first race I ran, at the end of June, was the 25Km Comfortably Numb Trail race in Whistler. This was my first ever trail race and the first time I had done a running race longer than 10Km. It was an amazing trail to run on, all single track in the forest above Whistler. I would definitely recommend this as a great trail run or race. Results

The next race I did was in July and was the 5 Peaks Cypress trail race. It was 14Km long and very fun. It was very cold and rainy on the day of the race, which made it super slippery and muddy. Even with the wet and cold conditions, there was a good turn out. Results

I was planning on racing the 21km distance at the Squamish 50 but decided to pull out because I was still recovering from an injury(Thank you to Marnie Tocheniuk at Angela Simpson Physiotherapy for getting me healthy again). Instead I volunteered at the race by sweeping part of the 50 mile course. My wife took my spot in the race and finished in 3h, without having run all summer.

The latest race was the 25Km Rubble Creek Classic, held last weekend. This is a low key race held on some of the best trails in the Sea to Sky corridor. I have been told by some of Canada's best ultra runners that this is one of their favourite races. This race should be a lot more popular than it is! Results

Having these races to work towards has been a great way to keep me focused. My next focal point, which will hopefully keep me focused through the fall rains, will be the thought of all the snow accumulating in the mountains. I'm hoping to start training on skis in early November!

Monday, 8 October 2012

First race of the season

SAVE THE DATEDecember 1 . 2012 . 6-9pm
 The 3rd Annual Vert180 is back this year at COP!  Grab some friends and form a team or kick start your touring season by going solo!  This year the course will feature 100ft of additonal Vertical!
Quick Facts:
Categories: Solo, 2 person and 4 person Teams
Race Description:  180 minute race ascending and descending COP, the most laps completed wins each respective category.
Registration:  Coming soon to http://vert180.blogspot.ca/ 
Hope to see you out!!
Kylee and Niall
Vert180 Race Organizers

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Skimo Canada Training Camp

I just spent the last few days at the SMC Training Camp in Revelstoke, BC. Our training camps are not like your typical training camp, they are not too long, we do not travel to a snow covered destination, and we don't stay in hostels or dorms. It is a lower budget affair, but in many ways much better than the high priced camps of other sports.

The big focus of this camp was to spend time with the team. This gave us time to catch up with old friends and time to get to know new ones. Come winter we will be spending lots of time together in unfamiliar surroundings and stressful situations, so it's good to have a friend around.

Another important part of this camp was to talk about and plan for the winter. This way we can coordinate travel and accommodation plans. This is particularly important with this season being a World Championship year in Europe.

Fall is a hard time to get together with the team because we spread out all over western Canada and still working hard to fill up the training bank account for the long winter of travelling and racing to come. That being said, we had a good turn out with 7 athletes and 2 support staff.


The camp started Friday afternoon with a short trail run and an evening meeting. On Saturday the group split up, with five of us heading up to Rogers Pass for a trail run and scramble up Mt Cheops. After running up amazingly maintained trails to Balu Pass, and a short scramble up the ridge, we were on top of the peak. Our round trip time was around 4.5 hours, followed by a dip in the coldest creek I have felt. After 3 minutes my legs were numb. The other two members of our group, Andrew and Peter, attended the Martha Creek Melt Down mountain bike race. Peter won and Andrew came in 4th.

On Sunday, we all met at the track in Revelstoke for the first annual Skimo Canada "Pentathlon". Events included the 100m dash, shotput, a star run, long jump, and the 800m run. This was probably the best part of the camp. The rest of the day was filled with another meeting and some riding. And just like that, the SMC September camp was over. See you in November everyone!

Thursday, 13 September 2012


Recovery: the most important and most overlooked aspect of training. If you don't have a good recovery from a hard block of training, you put all of your hard work and time into jeopardy. In this blog post, I am going to talk about some of the things that I like to do to help promote strong recovery:

The Rest Day

For me, this is time to do things around the house and enjoy a day off. I try to get some extra sleep, make more elaborate meals, and watch a movie. There are several things I avoid doing on rest days. First, I avoid exercise in any form. This may seem obvious to some, but to others it is not. Second, I avoid running too many errands as the rest day is the time to rest the body and mind. Third, I avoid travelling. Travel on rest days is not always avoidable, but I avoid it if at all possible. I never feel as recovered after a rest day that becomes a travel day. Some coaches even schedule travel into training plans as a workout.

Cold therapy

Taking a dip in the creek after the Comfortably Numb race (Whistler) 
Otherwise known as jumping into an ice cold creek. After a hard session of training or a long workout, I like to find a deep pool in a creek to sit in for five minutes and cool off my legs. This helps with soreness and swelling, and seems to help me recover from hard or long efforts faster. One theory is that when you cool your legs, the veins constrict, pushing more waste-containing blood out of the legs. In cold water hot muscles are cooled much quicker and more effectively than icing, and this cooling helps to reduce swelling. Fresh blood quickly returns to the legs after the therapy, providing lots of oxygen and nutrients. Although there is not a lot of scientific evidence to back this up, cold water therapy is a very common practice amongst high level athletes.

Post Workout Meal

I love this cook book.
I don't get too bent out of shape over the specifics of my post workout meal, but there are a few things to keep in mind. For starters, I usually eat my calories as opposed to drinking them. Protein shakes and recovery drinks can get really expensive if you are using them every day. That being said, I like to make a fruit shake with hemp protein and omega oils after a hard work out because it tastes really good and cools me down.  But the most important thing is to eat some carbohydrates as soon as possible after a workout; this allows your muscles to better replace glycogen stores. Right after working out your muscles are very sensitive to insulin, which is need to bring carbohydrates (in the form of glycogen) into the muscles. It's important to intake carbohydrates while your muscles are still "thirsty".


This is one that I need to work on most. Most of us that run a lot are probably quite tight. I try to stretch after working out and then again in the evening. In the evening, I also do some work on the foam roller. The foam roller is use for self Myofascial release.


That is a look at some of the things that I like to do to help with my recovery. If you have something that you really like to do for recovery, please post a comment. For example, does anyone out there have experience using compression socks for recovery?

Thursday, 16 August 2012

What is Skimo?

This post describes times, elevation gain, and gear for an elite racer. When I started racing I  used my regular ski touring gear and had a lot of fun. There are categories at North American races with less elevation gain if you are interested in participating your first race. Skimo is for everyone!

"Skimo" is short for ski mountaineering. The sport is also called randonee racing, although this name is more commonly used in Europe than North America. It is a type of ski racing where competitors race both up and down hills. It is very popular in Europe, and is steadily gaining popularity in North America.


Millet Touring Comp 20
Elite competitors use lightweight skimo-specific race gear. Race boots weigh around 680g, bindings 120g, and skis 720g - about 1.5 kg of gear carried per foot. Like ski touring, racers wear their skis to go both up and down the hill. Climbing skins are put on the bottom of the skis for traction while climbing up the course. They work similar to a lint brush: the fibres lay flat as you glide and stand up and dig into when you kick.

During a skimo race, competitors must be self sufficient and they are required to carry certain gear, including an avalanche transceiver, shovel, probe, some extra clothing, food, and water.

Types of Skimo Races

Races in North America are most often run at a ski resort to keep costs down and the number of volunteers needed to a minimum. The standard format for North American races is the individual race. An individual race starts with a mass start where competitors ski downhill, run, or (most often) skin uphill. On sections of the course too steep or too technical to climb with skins, competitors remove their skis, attach the skis to their backpack, and walk uphill. This is called boot packing. There are multiple up and down sections during the race that total an elevation gain between 700-2000 meters. The first person over the line wins the race. The video below is an example of an individual race held at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort in Golden, BC.

Another race format that is gaining popularity, particularly in Europe, is the sprint race. It is great for spectators because of its short and high speed nature. This format also works well for TV, an important factor in helping to get skimo into the Olympics. Sprint races contain all the same elements as the individual race compressed into 3 minutes and 80 meters of elevation gain.

In the vertical race, athletes are timed from the bottom of the race course to the top. It is simply a hill climb, with no descending or boot packing involved. A vertical race will have around 500-1000 meters in elevation gain. Top athletes will complete the course in 25-35 minutes.

Other race formats include the team race and the relay race.

Where can I try skimo?

Racing in Canada starts in December with the Vert 180, and the season runs until March, ending with the Ken Jones Classic.  Check back this fall for a full race calendar. Come out to a race this winter and have some fun with your friends!

Monday, 6 August 2012

Whistler Hike

Out for a power hike with team member Stano Faban of Skintracks today. Beautiful clear day with one bear encounter and temps into the 30s.

McBride Range from Whistler

The Black Tusk and Stano from Whistler

Whistler and a Black bear

Get out there and do some power hiking and you will be ready for next season. It's only three months away!

Friday, 27 July 2012

Garibaldi Park

Here are a few photos from my training today. Did a power hike up to Garibaldi Lake, then up to Taylor meadows and back to the parking lot. For the most part it is snow free.

Rubble Creek

Garibaldi Lake

Garibaldi Lake

Taylor Meadows

Rubble Creek

Thursday, 26 July 2012

How do you train for skimo races? Roller skiing!

That’s the second most asked question I get, after "what is skimo?". Well, it's not an easy one to answer in a blog post. For training to take you to the next level you need a plan. I have a coach that's set up a training plan for me. If you can, it is best to have someone other than yourself set up the training plan and supervise your training so that you do not over train.

Las Lenas, Argentina - It's winter there right now!

One thing that is hard to simulate in the northern hemisphere at this time of year is snow. There are things that can be done about this. Option one: travel to the southern hemisphere and train there. Option two: travel to Europe and ski underground in a tunnel. Option three: ski on the Haig Glacier with the Canadian cross-country and biathlon teams.

Or, Option four: roller skiing. Roller what!?! Why roller ski? It is a good way to use the same muscle groups as one would use during ski touring. As a bonus, after you are setup with equipment it is relatively inexpensive. It is also low impact, which is good to mix into your training to save your legs and body some abuse. Roller skiing is very common among nordic athletes. But because skimo is a newer sport, roller skiing is not yet common among skimo athletes. 

I opted for a classic setup over a skate setup to more closely mimic the movements done during a skimo race. Other necessary gear includes a bike helmet, poles, ski boots, and gloves (if you plan on crashing a lot). After about two weeks of on and off use, a few falls, and lots of stares from motorists, I have started to get the technique down.  I found that these clips helped me a lot: 

Go get yourself some roller skis, and get out and train!

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

A little Skimo Stoke

Here is a look at what will take place at World Championships in February 2013. This short video is from the 2011 World Championships in Claut Italy. Check out the shot of top Canadian female skimo team member Melanie Bernier at 3:36 in.  Gets me excited for some snow, only 3 and half months away.