Sunday, March 23, 2008
Race 4: US Ski Mountaineering Champs at Jackson
The race at Jackson was a good one. It was kind of odd driving into Teton Village in March and not September. As I drove into Teton Village, the various LOTOJA battles that have been fought on that stretch flashed through my mind. The flashbacks almost made me break my committment to not do LOTOJA 2008 -- almost. In September, the mountains backing the village aren't covered with snow. This time they were. Lots of it. It had been snowing all week. Mike Werner, a patroller, course setter, and racer said he had never seen this much snow in March.
The race course climbed about 6100 vertical feet. The first climb was up groomers, the second climb was technical and finished with a brutally long bootpack, and the third climb was simply epic -- a skin, another long and steep bootpack, and a climb up an aluminum ladder up the vertical lip of Corbet's Couloir. The descents, particularly the last one that dropped 4000 vertical in one run, were equally challenging. A large portion of the last descent was 40 plus degrees on frozen crud moguls.
Results-wise, the Jackson race was almost a replay of the Powderkeg. The top 4 were the same: Brandon French, Pete Swenson, Cary Smith, and Mike Tobin. Zahan Billimoria took the fifth spot, and I finished 6th. Brandon finished in 2:04 ish. I was 10 minutes behind at 2:14.
Zahan and I had a memorable race. Zahan dropped me on the first climb. On the second climb, I got past him, and opened up a small gap. That gap held up the third climb. However, on the last quarter of the descent, I watched helplessly as Zahan and his Trabs ripped by me on the steep frozen crud. I had fallen several times on the hard, unforgiving snow and had become a bit gun shy. In hindsight, I should have just pointed my tips down and yelled, "Banzai!!" -- kamikaze style. I caught up and briefly passed Zahan on the final skate/herringbone section. He rallied, got the jump on me over the top and I wasn't able to ever get him back. Nice job Z and sorry for taking you out at the finish (we both came into the finish at over 30 mph).
Also, nice job to brother Sam. Sam was on his way to a podium finish in the Rec division before he ripped the Dynafit toepiece out of my trusty Havocs. Although he missed the podium, he earned several style points by skiing most of the mountain on one ski.
That pretty much wraps my short ski racing season. Given the nice weather the entries on this blog will likely revert to biking. Before they do, however, I want to make a pitch for rando racing. It's a great sport and I hope it grows. If you're an endurance junkie -- biker, runner, tri-geek, nordic skier -- you should think about trying rando racing!!! Word is that next year there might be a mid-week series, kind of like our mid-week crit series. If you have any questions about what's involved, drop me a line (or an email).