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.
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.
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!
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.