Sunday, January 16, 2011

'Twas Not to Be

One of my objectives this year was to make the 2011 US Ski Mountaineering Team.  To qualify I needed to do well at a series of races, held Jan 8 (Nationals at Jackson), Jan 9 (Targhee), and January 14th (Sunlight, CO).  And I'm sorry to say that I didn't do well enough at Jackson, skipped Targhee, and couldn't get it done at Sunlight.  So, no US Team for me this year.

At Jackson, I was flu-ish, but was drawn there because I didn't want to miss the largest gathering of skimo racers in the sport's history.  It was exciting and inspiring to line  up with a multitude of skimo racers on US snow, and confirmed to me how much I like the sport.

(Photo Credit: Powder Mag)

Unfortunately, I couldn't match the high output of the race's leaders, and lost the lead group early on in the race.  I ended up finishing 15th or so, way out of consideration for the US Team.  

I skipped Targhee, hoping that I could take that time and use it to recover for Sunlight.  While I think it helped, by the time Sunlight came around, I hadn't gotten rid of  the chest congestion and pesky cough that has been plaguing me since Christmas.  I went anyway, hoping for a break.  During the Sunlight race, there were a few times when I was with the qualifying group or when the qualifying group was within striking distance, but I had a rough time breathing.  Then, at a critical moment during the 2nd descent, my right boot broke.  

From 1.16.11

With some prodding by Scheefer, I decided that I would plod along and finish the race as fast I could.  My skinsuit held the top of the boot to my leg, but it was floppy on both the up and the down.  And on the 3rd climb, I knew that my chances of making the team were gone.  As I postholed with one foot and skinned on the other (since I had lost a skin and didn't want to bother putting a new one on) into the last major descent, I had to laugh at the sorry shape I was in: lungs heaving, postholing with one leg, sliding on the other leg with a broken boot, and carrying a ski in one hand, and a iced up, crusty skin in the other hand.  That sorry picture should have been a signal to me, but I kept going.

The last leg of the race turned into a rally against Andy.  And in a moment of poor judgment, I tried to nip Andy at the finish line.  I failed, and instead crashed into a static, steel, ski rack.  Perhaps my broken boot had something to do with that.  The crash resulted in me getting strapped and taped to a backboard, taken to the hospital in an ambulance (while taped to a backboard, which is more uncomfortable than crashing into a steel ski rack), examined, x-rayed, and then released.  The final diagnosis was muscle strain, but no broken neck.  Phew!

From 1.16.11
Photo by Andy.

Of course, I'm disappointed that I missed making the team, but the fact is that I'm not performing at the level of those who made it on the team.  It's unfortunate that I trained hard and was on a good trajectory, but then lost a chunk of fitness due to illness, right when I needed it the most.  But, to mix metaphors: that's the way the slope fractures.

And now, time to focus on my kids, my yard, and some wild speed ascents and traverses.


tim said...

That backboard photo is a shock. It would have been fun to follow your exploits at worlds again, but I'll settle for having you cook at the yurt.

Austin said...

Sorry about your luck! It will only make the NBC athlete story line that much better when you come back and kick ass.

brian p. harder said...

Holy crap! At least you went out in a flurry. Glad you are okay.

Now, you know what we have to get done.

Travis Scheefer said...

Glad to hear you are alright! Bad luck on the ongoing illness and equipment failure. Not all is lost, you will just have to kick ass in the regional races! What about the Pierra Menta?

Matt Hart said...

valiant effort samurai. i'm sure you aren't done yet though right? chad and mark added an additional climb to the wasatch powderkeg. time to defend the title of fastest in the wasatch!