Last year at the US National Ski Mountaineering Championships in Jackson Hole, I had a disappointing race because of equipment issues – I didn’t manage my skins properly. I’ve been looking forward to coming back to Jackson ever since. I’ve been training hard despite the lack of snow in Colorado and felt ready going into the weekend. My parents graciously volunteered to watch the kids so Ian, Jari Kirkland and I could drive up to Wyoming on Friday.
Despite my preparation, I felt nervous on Saturday morning and began to doubt my fitness. As the gun went off, we all started fast as usual. I took the lead for about three minutes until Gemma Arro Ribot passed me with Stevie Kremer and Janelle Smiley on her tail. I tried to fall in behind them, but I couldn’t hold the pace and I fell off the group by a few minutes. Feeling a bit frustrated, I decided to race my own race, knowing I was going as hard as I could and there were three more hours to go.
Towards the top of the first climb, about an hour into the race, I was beginning to gain on the lead girls. I passed last year’s national champ, Janelle Smiley, in the first transition as she struggled with a broken boot (impressively she was able to get a strap and finish the race) and gained more time on both Gemma and Stevie.
At the bottom of the second descent, I passed Stevie Kremer in transition and started to feel like my training was paying off. I was feeling strong – eating and drinking well.
I passed Gemma on the second-to-last descent and never looked back. With one more fast transition, I was in and out before Gemma arrived. I concentrated on form and managed to pass about three or four more men on the final climb. I skied the final descent fast, but with a bit of caution to ensure I didn’t get sloppy and crash. As I tucked into the finish I was finally able to breath a sigh of relief. I finished in 3:04, about four minutes faster than last year. My training paid off, and my decision to stick to my own race plan proved to be the right call.
Stevie Kremer finished in second with Gemma Arro Ribot in third. My La Sportiva teammate Luke Nelson took the win for the men with Scott Simmons and Jason Dorias finshing second and third respectively. Full results can be found on the race site here. Photos from Kevin Krill here. A bunch of photos that Ian took are below. Thanks for reading!