I'm not sure how to report on this race. Most importantly, it was fun, well-run, and a great opportunity to meet and race with some cool guys (and girls). I hope this event grows in popularity and that Xterra sticks with it. Snowbasin is a great venue.
As for results, it's complicated. Did I cross the line first? Yes. Did I get the best time? Not on paper. Did I win? Yes and no. Let me explain:
I registered for the 12k Mens' Race division. I lined up at the start line with some Tri Elite fast looking dudes, including Mike Tobin and Nico Lebrun. We all took off running at the start -- actually I was running, and Tobin and Nico were jogging. The three of us climbed the first pitch together. Nico was on a svelte rando racing setup with Dynafit Low Techs, F1s and Dynastars. Tobin was on some funky nordic setup with steel edges and low support-less XC boots. Both of them were very fast.
I lost touch with Nico and Tobin at the beginning of the second pitch, which was up a steep, packed, and long bowl. When I got dropped, I was climbing at about 80 feet per minute, which is too fast for me. Since I thought all of us were racing in the same division, I focused on holding 3rd place.
Toward the top of the second pitch, I looked behind me, and was surprised to see someone gaining on me. Midway of the bowl, I had looked back and no one was in sight. I put my head down and waddled faster. It turns out that the person behind was MTB legend Mike Kloser, who was doing the 8k race as a tune up for the big event on Saturday. Lucky for me, before he overtook me, he took the 8k route, and I took the 12k route and my 3rd place seemed secure.
On the first descent, as I have done in all other skimo races, I tucked and took the fastest line down the hill. On the periphery, I saw some slalom gates, but I didn't make an effort to go around them. My object was to get down the mountain as fast as I could.
I raced the rest of the race by myself and at my own pace. On the final climb, I saw Nico ahead, but no Tobin. Soon after that, someone yelled to me that Tobin had gone off course and that I was in second place. That same person yelled that I needed to "hit the gates." So I hit all the gates after that.
On the final descent, I thought it was weird that I was being followed by video cameras. When I crossed the line -- and after I had hit all the gates in the pic above -- I heard the announcer say that I was the first one in the 12k race to come across the line. Apparently, Nico had gone off course too. A few minutes later, however, I was informed that because I had missed several gates, I was being assessed an 8 MINUTE penalty. Ouch. My argument that I didn't believe in gates and that I think gates in a ski mountaineering race is lame (are there gates in the backcountry? no.) was unavailing. That relegated me to second overall and "first" in the "Men's Senior" Division, which was a surprise to me, because I thought all of us were in the same division. In any event, I was happy with 2nd overall, and 1st in the Men's Senior Division. Most of all, I was glad to have had the opportunity to race with some fast guys. (The race on Sat. must have been really exciting.)
On Saturday, we had big plans. We wanted to climb the Twins and ski Lisa Falls. Chris Peters, Bart, and I set out from the Mill B trailhead. We looked like a Scarpa/BD/Dynafit ad. All three of us were wearing some iteration of a Scarpa boot. All three of us were on BD skis. All three of us were on Dynafits. Oh, and one of us was wearing powder blue pants that matched HIS woman specific powder blue skis (hint: it wasn't me or Chris).
However, due to weather and time constraints we didn't make the Twin summit and hit Bonkers instead. We were pleasantly surprised to find some nice snow. Bart has a good report and some photos here. I have to say that skiing in clouds with zero visibility is pretty hard, but even harder is crossing a river with skis on. It wasn't a pretty sight.
ALTA and TOLEDO
After the Bonkers foray, I skied at Alta with Ethan and some friends. We also got a run in on Toledo bowl. I got the chute.
After all this skiing, my legs and lungs are thrashed. I'm either on the cusp and hopefully will have some good "super compensation." Or I'm over the cusp and torched. The P Keg is coming up this weekend, so I'm going to have to do a disciplined taper this week.