Great video recap of the Ultimate Mountain Challenge at the Teva Mountain Games.
Great video recap of the Ultimate Mountain Challenge at the Teva Mountain Games.
Apparently, the promise of a home remodeling project is good motivation for me to race hard. After a lot of hand-wringing last week about the Winter Teva Mountain Games (WTMG), my husband Ian promised that if I raced and won, we could get the new shower we desperately need in our bathroom. The prospect of new tile kept me going all weekend.
Of course, I’m kidding (kind of). The inaugural WTMG turned out to be a terrific event in its first year and I had three days of good, clean, fun racing.
Like the summer Teva Mountain Games, the WTMG featured an Ultimate Mountain Challenge (UMC) competition, including three separate races over three days: a 10K Nordic race, a ski mountaineering race and a vertical ascent. I’ve won the summer UMC once and placed second twice, so I was excited and more than a little anxious to try the first winter UMC.
On Friday morning I lined up at the start line of the Nordic race with one Olympian and one National Champion, both of whom were also racing the UMC with me. I knew Rebecca Dussault from Gunnison, who raced at the 2006 Torino Olympics, would beat me by anywhere from five to ten minutes. The same went for Morgan Smyth from SLC. My plan was simply to minimize my losses. Thankfully, my longtime friend Stephen White is a Toko rep and he hooked me up with a super fast wax the night before.
Thirty minutes later; mission accomplished. Rebecca won the race overall for the women, taking home a nice check. I was just about five minutes behind her. Janelle Smiley was just a few seconds behind me. I was hoping and planning that Saturday would be my day to really win the UMC. (Vail Daily Nordic race recap here).
With 8,000 feet of climbing over 20 miles to Blue Sky Basin and back, we all were expecting the ski mountaineering race on Saturday to take at least five hours. I knew that it would be my opportunity to put some time into the pro Nordic skiers, and hopefully add to my minimal lead over Janelle. I started the race at a pace I thought I could maintain for 5+ hours. Janelle, who typically goes out fast, stuck to my tails like glue. We quickly built a solid lead over the Nordic girls and were within the top 15 men. Janelle stuck right behind me until the last ascent and descent, when she started to fall back by just a few minutes. I finished the race in 4:17 beating Janelle by four and half minutes. Stevie Kremer came in third. Rebecca had a tough race with major blisters from her boots and finished over 40 minutes back. (Vail Daily SkiMo race recap here, Denver Post recap here)
On Sunday, at the Vail Uphill, my plan was simply to stick with Janelle. I had some time to give but I certainly couldn’t walk it in. Stevie, in running shoes, crushed the 2-mile, 2,200 foot ascent in 38:15. Janelle kept up a great pace and finished in second place at 40:05 racing in her La Sportiva boots and skis. I finished 24 seconds behind her on my matching Sportiva gear for third place, but more importantly, I preserved my overall lead in the UMC.
When the weekend was all said and done, I won almost $3K at the Winter Teva Mountain Games for the UMC victory, the skimo top step, and third place in the Uphill race. It was a great payday for an awesome weekend of racing, and it should buy us a nice, new bathroom shower. I’m calling the contractor tomorrow morning…
Special thanks to my sponsors La Sportiva for providing me awesomely fast and light RSR skis and bindings, as well as my sexy carbon Stratos boots, to Polartec for keeping me warm and dry with baselayers all weekend, and to Honey Stinger for fueling me with chews and waffles in every race. I certainly would not have been prepared to race without the stellar coaching of Lindsay Hyman at CTS. Also thanks to all my Vail friends for cheering me on and an extra special shout out to Dee and Farnham, who housed me and the family in Vail…we couldn’t have done it without you. Last, but certainly not least, thanks to my parents for helping with the kids and getting them to Vail to enjoy the event.
Check out this video of the Best Trick contest on Saturday night at the event. Those guys were impressive (and Axel LOVED the flames).
And this edit from PinkBike.com
A weekend of racing in sunny Crested Butte is always something I look forward to – summer or winter. However, this year’s Crested Butte COSMIC race made me a little anxious for two reasons. First the race served as the North American Ski Mountaineering Championships, drawing an international field of racers. Second, because the racecourse included a new technical climbing section requiring ropes, via ferratas and ascenders – and anyone that knows me well, knows I’m not a climber and I don’t particularly like heights.
In order to step up to the European standards of skimo racing, a sprint race was added on Saturday morning. We woke early in order to get a sufficient warm-up in before the short six minute race. The temperature was frigid, -18 degrees Fahrenheit at the start, which does not match well with spandex race suits and thin gloves. I had never participated or even watched a sprint before, but understood that it included uphill kick turns, a descent, another ascent, a bootpack and a final descent. It was an individual time trial format with racers going off at 30 second intervals.
Of course, I was chosen to go first for both men and women so I had no one to pace or watch for pointers. Six minutes is not enough time to really get hot, so my fingers were completely numb when I tried to put skins back on my skis for the second ascent. I dropped my skins a few times purely because I could not feel what I was doing. The second girl to start, Melanie Bernier of Canada, caught me in transition, meaning she had already made 30 seconds on me. I finished just behind her, went inside and worked on thawing my fingers. I manged to finish in third behind Melanie and Janelle Smiley, about 35 seconds back from 1st place.
The championship race on Sunday was truly epic. Leaving the base of Crested Butte ski area, I pushed hard to stay close to the front of the pack in order to have as few people in front of me on the ridge as possible. Racing alongside men I usually am behind, I felt strong from the start. When I arrived at the rope for the Guide’s Ridge section, I quickly transitioned and managed to pass about five people. Despite my fear of heights and ropes, I managed to move pretty well on the ridge and even pass a few people. Only a few people passed me, all of whom are experienced climbers and mountaineers. One of the people to pass me was Janelle Smiley, my Sportiva teammate and a great climber.
I was relieved to hear at the top of the ridge that Janelle had only put about five minutes on me throughout the rope section. I put my head down and worked hard to make up any ground I could over the next two ascents and descents. As I got within about two minutes of Janelle, I got panicky and lost all form, causing my skins to come off. Quickly replacing skins, I lost vaulable time and momentum. Caught behind a bunch of racers on their first lap at that point, I realized I didn’t have enough mountain to catch Janelle so I sat up and enjoyed the final climb and descent.
I finished Sunday in 2nd place, 4 minutes 21 seconds behind Janelle. With our combined times from Saturday, Janelle won the weekend and Stevie Kremer placed third. The American women swept the North American Championship podium! It was an amazing course that tested my skills and my comfort level. Thanks to Bryan Wickenhauser for organizing! Links below.
Ascending the Guides Ridge. From bottom: Chris Kroger, Sari Anderson, Janelle Smiley and Jan Koles
Last May I spent a few days in New York City talking to Outside TV about the role of athletes in product development. The Polartec segment starts at 2’45” in the video below. Also included is Peter Whittaker for Eddie Bauer First Ascent and Jeff Lenosky for Teva.
Also, psyched to be a part of the 2012 Sportiva ski mountaineering team:
(Boulder, Colo.) –La Sportiva North America introduces its ski mountaineering team for 2011-2012.
On the women’s side, the team includes last year’s Colorado Ski Mountaineering Cup (COSMIC) series winner Sari Anderson, 2011 national ski mountaineering champion Janelle Smiley and IFMGA guide Olivia Race. The men’s team features some of the top skimo racers in the country including Adrian Ballanger, Keith Garvey, Jared Inouye, Chris Kroger, Luke Nelson, John Race, and Jason McGowin.
“I’m excited and honored to be a part of the La Sportiva ski mountaineering team,” states Sari Anderson .“My set up of Stratos boots, RSR skis and bindings is incredibly light and performed without fail last season.” Read more here.
And for next season:
(Boulder, Colo.) –La Sportiva North America, makers of the world’s finest mountain products, announces today that it will debut a full line of technical ski mountaineering apparel at the 2012 OR Winter Market, SIA Snowshow, and ISPO Munich tradeshows.
“The culture of ski mountaineering is thriving in Europe and shows signs of significant growth in North America,” states Jonathan Lantz, president of La Sportiva North America. “Our team of designers in the Dolomites used feedback from some of the world’s best ski mountaineers to design apparel that is fast, light and highly efficient. For randonee racing, backcountry touring, and alpine climbing, the La Sportiva apparel line sets a new bar for performance and innovation.” Read more here.
With just over a month of rest, I jumped back in with the first skimo race of the season at CS Irwin Lodge on Kebler Pass. Ty Newton, Lyndsay Meyer and I left the Roaring Fork Valley this morning with great views of the lunar eclipse. We hopped on our snowmobiles for a fun 45 minute sled ride to the Irwin Lodge for the 2nd annual COSMIC race.
As usual, the start felt fast and I pushed to keep pace. It felt great to be back racing on my skis however I knew early on I would suffer straight through the finish. Stevie Kremer, Janelle Smiley and myself raced alongside one another through the first climb and descent and partway up the second climb. At which point Janelle started to trail a little.
Stevie and I raced tip to tail up three quarters of the final climb when I finally cracked. I could tell Stevie had more in the tank when I pulled over to fix my boot for a second. As Stevie went by, I tried to hold on as long as I could but she quickly opened a gap.
I finished a few minutes behind Stevie leaving everything I had on the course. Janelle finished in third with Lyndsay and Jari Kirkland in 4th and 5th. It was so much fun to race so closely with Stevie and Janelle and to fight right until the end. There is lots of work to be done before the next race but I’m ready for it after a nice relaxing off season.
Unofficial results from memory:
Thank you very much to Jake Jones, Bryan Wickenhauser and the CS Irwin staff for another great race!