Sunday, 27 January 2013

Whitefish Whiteout

Back from another US skimo race, and what an eventful race it was. After meeting up with Stano and Peter we made for the border, driving into the dark of the night. The next morning when we finally dragged ourselves out of bed we were greeted with a beautiful sunny day. We headed up to the Whitefish Resort to stretch our legs and check out the course before the following day's race. After a great skin to the top of the resort on a designated uphill route we skied down. 

Stretching my legs the day before the race.

The race started at 10:00am so we had a fairly relaxing start to the morning. It was the best turnout ever for the Whitefish Whiteout with over 70 participants. With the word go, I was off and leading the pack. I led to the top of the first climb and was about 1min from braking Reiner's uphill record for the first climb set in 2010. This is when things started to go wrong. On the first descent I broke a pole and was then passed on the second climb by Ben, Peter, and Stano. It was a technical climb and I was having a hard pushing the pace while down one pole. At the top of the technical skinning section I was able to commandeer a pole off of a friend. While it was a little on the short side, it had a basket on it, so off I went to close the gap.

On the next decent I really opened it up and passed Peter. Things were starting to turn around. Then  my boot broke while hammering down the steep descent. I was now skiing with one foot in walk mode and one locked in ski mode. I was still able to make it to the transition ahead of Peter but was passed by him as I fumbled with my boot.  By the boot pack I was able to close the gap again. Not wanting to lose time on Peter, I pushed on with a failing skin from the top of the boot pack.

Out for a tour the day after the race with some Skimo legends.

I was able to make it to the top of the last descent just ahead of Peter. Knowing Peter would be right on my tail, I skied as fast as I could down the last descent and powered up the last climb to the finish with Peter right behind me. Results

I had some gear problems in Whitefish but I was still happy with my race and I had a great time. Next up is World Championships in Pelvoux France. Stay tuned for update from Pelvoux, here and on my twitter feed.

Monday, 14 January 2013

US road trip

It's good to be back in Canada after a week on the road racing and skiing around Jackson Hole. I have wanted to go to Jackson Hole for a while now, so it was great to finally make it there.

Our crew at Jackson Hole
Photo credit: Thierry Werderits 

After making a few stops to pick up some friends along the way, we rolled in to Jackson after 15 hours of driving tired and ready to get out of the van. First on the list of things to do was to stretch our legs, and not knowing the area, we headed straight for the closest thing that looked skiable. Jackson happens to have a fun little hill that backs right up on the edge of town called Powder King and so we went there for a quick skin. 

With one more day to kill until the start of the racing, we looked around town and rested. By now the rest of the Canadian contingent had arrived - a total of 4 of us made the long trip down from the Great White North. Our group included Eric Carter, Stano Faban, Igor Bernas and myself. 

Stano and Igor at Teton Pass
The 8am start to the race at Jackson Hole demanded that we get up early and venture out into the cold black morning. It was a challenge to get the motivation to start warming up in the -30 morning air. I was very excited to be toeing the start line of my first big race of the year alongside such a deep field of competitors. With the clop clop of a Moose past the head of the start line (true story), the 2013 US Championships were off. 

Overall it was a great race with lots of technical skinning and descending. Over 2400m of elevation gain, most of which was above 2500m, made it hard to get the legs spinning.  For me, the highlight of the course was the descents, where I was able to really open it up and pass a few racers. The boot pack up Corbett's Coulior was also cool, but I would have enjoyed it more if we had skied down this amazing line. See the results here.
After the Jackson Hole race, we headed over Teton Pass to Driggs, Idaho to get ready for the next day of racing at Grand Targhee. To our surprise the race started at a much more reasonable time. This allowed things warm up, and it made for a much more enjoyable racing temperature.

Eric and I out for a walk in Teton park

The race started with a very steep groomer, which was a challenge to skin up and seems to be a common trend with US races. After this initial steep climb, the rest of the climbs were for the most part off piste and on set skin tracks. The second to last decent was quite challenging because of a breakable crust. Once again, this played to my strengths and helped me to pass a few more racers. With another day at altitude under our belts, our small group of racers were all able to close the gap on the race leaders and cap off another race in good style. Results 

It was our initial plan to stick around and do some skiing in the area after the races were over, but we arrived near the end of a two week high pressure window. Most everything had been skied out, with no new snow in the forecast and avalanche risk in higher terrain. It was time to head home!

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Golden Light

Happy New Year!

Here's a video my wife and I put together after a short day of training and skiing near Squamish. It's not the raddest terrain ever, but the weather was amazing and we couldn't get enough of the stellar views and golden light.

The next update will come after the US National Skimo Championships in Jackson Hole!