I hope to post a more detailed report in the future about the massiveness of the Alps, the huge Euro fields, the spectators (especially the one with an accordian and the ones with deafening basketball-sized cowbells) who skin several thousand feet to be on the top of the mountain, the brutal descents, and ascents now that I think about it, "Team America," equipment, my partner Brandon French, and on and on.
For now, here are the Stats:
Today's course: ~8600 feet, with great skinning and some really really tough descents. My observation is that lots of snow falls here, and then it freezes, mostly on the top.
Winning Time: by the French Team who straightlined or GS'd the really really tough descents and ran up the mountains really fast -- 2:23! At 2:23, we had one climb to go and I saw these guys bombing it off a peak, neck and neck with the Italians. It was super impressive.
Our time: 3:18. I was happy with how I felt. 3:18 was good for, ahem (Eric), 79th place. There are 160 teams, including 12 women teams. Cary and Pete finished in 3:05, placing them in the 40s. With Brandon shortening his stride by 8 inches, coming off a cold, and carrying a shortrope (which, for the record, stayed in the pack), we may be close to evenly matched. I've got to thank him because he's a great partner.
Crazy Start: Imagine a cross race with 320 people with 4 sticks -- two poles and two skis -- wildly swinging and thrusting them around. There were actual pile ups where one person went down an other piled in/on, getting all tangled up. We avoided these.
Triple Track: The course setters must go through a lot. I saw several avalanches. Not sure if they were control work or natural. They also put in three nicely sloping skin tracks. For the first half of the race we skied in various pelotons, moving about like you do in a crit. It was weird.
Specators: I saw several musical instruments, including a harmonica and accordian. The specators were super encouraging, yelling "Allez" "Allez." I nearly lost my hearing when some lady rang a dog-sized cow bell next to my head. It definitely inspired me to go faster.
Alps: Unbelievable. It's like the Wasatch to the fifth power in breadth and relief. Mt. Blanc overlooks the race.
Jet lag: still.