Sunday, March 7, 2010

Skimo World Champs: Teams Race

I'm on a layover at JFK and thought I'd provide a late update on the Teams Race that happened two days ago on Friday.  Bryan Wickenhauser and I teamed up for a serving of about 7800 vertical amongst the world's best skimo racers.  The course was a dream course.  It had everything.  Big mountain relief.  Big alpine bowls.  Big vertical.  Tough descents over ice, powder, rock, corn.  A booter.  A ridge walk.  A hand line descent.  And a home run down a hero run to the finish.  There was a long kick and glide flat section and three major climbs.  The second was the largest and the one that seemed to never end.  I think it was like 3300 vertical or so.  

The day started with lots of wind and we were worried that we wouldn't be able to do the full course.  The start was really really windy and really really cold, but luckily, after the first hour the weather changed for the better.  It turned out to be a beautiful day.

Here are some nice photos that I found on  All of are the final climb and descent.  Here is the ridge walk at the top of the third climb:

From Andorra 3

Pictured below is one of the top Italian teams hot on the heals of one of the top French teams. Can you imagine running a rando race along the ridge of Mt. Timpanogos? That's what it reminded me of.

From Andorra 3

One of the classiest, fastest, and most consistent rando racers in the world is Manfred Reichegger. It was cool to see him in action. I might add, that I am convinced he is Alex Grant's long lost cousin. Here he is (Manfred, not Alex) topping out:

From Andorra 3

The booter. Keep those feet moving!

From Andorra 3

And here is a great shot of our own Team America's Max Taam rallying the top of the final descent.

From Andorra 3

And here is what he and all of the racers had to look forward to. A nice descent to the resort below.

From Andorra 3

Team America's strategy was to send Pete and Cary off the front on an all out attack to string out the French, Italian, and Swiss teams.  Then Max and Scheef, Ben and Brandon, and Wick and I would pass the gassed euros and go for the win.  Kidding!  Really, our strategy was simple: stay together, work together, go fast, and have fun.

For the most part it worked out, except for one little incident that nearly ended Wick's and my race.  At the top of the first descent, about five turns in, my boot broke.  The snow was a bit manky and we were skiing hard.  I powered through some crud and the cord that held my whole upper cuff together snapped in four places.  Not one or two or three, but four!  All at the same time.  After I stumbled down the first descent to where Wick was waiting, I thought my race was done.  However, we managed to borrow a strap from a team from the UK, and I was able to make my boot somewhat functional.  That little mishap cost us major time.  And it made already tough skiing a bit tougher.

Wick has a lot of racing experience and he was patient and cool-headed throughout the whole ordeal.  Me on the other hand?  Not so much.  This was Worlds.  We were racing well.  Fitness-wise, I was feeling great.  And I wasn't very happy about my equipment failure.  I have to thank Wick for teaching me a good lesson, for being patient, and such a great understanding partner.  Here he is checking out the last descent on a course preview the previous day:

From Andorra 3

In the end, even though I was bummed about the boot mishap (and the other boot mishap -- my other boot had issues too), it turned out to be a fulfilling day. We finished in about 3 hrs, 45 minutes off the winning time posted by a French team. Results here.


Layne said...

Looks like a blast! Way to represent the stars & stripes. Hopefully Pierre will warranty your boots--that really sucks.

brian p. harder said...

Oh, so painful! I can only imagine the disappointment as your boot exploded. Still, top 30. Super! What a day and what a course!

Jonathan S. Shefftz said...

Sorry to hear about the boot, but great job toughing it out regardless.
And sounds like from a posted video of the WPK that now a lever broke off . . . but you still won?