Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Grand Targhee Ski Mountaineering Classic - 2nd of 3 Qualifiers for US Team

On the heels of the US National Championships yesterday at Jackson Hole, I think most competitors were a weeeeeeee bit tired from nearly 8,000ft of racing!  Rest, recover & reload was on every competitors mind....and everybodys body is different.  Some take ice baths, some drink beers and some just eat and sleep.  Team Crested Butte is comprised of four great endurance athletes and are used to multi-day racing from our Adventure Racing days of this scenario was "no problem".  Speaking for myself and Jon, we headed back to our hotel after awards ate a big meal, drank copious amounts of Acli-mate, and generally put our feet up & napped.  Dinner was another big grazing feast, stuffing ourselves with calories and got to bed by 9PM....(I know boring....)

Race day on Sunday meant driving an hour from Jackson Hole over to Grand Targhee on the Eastern slope of the Tetons.  Luckily the race didn't start til 10:30AM!!  Love that!

The resort had seen 3-5" of new snow and a low of about 12F, with good the racing was nearly perfect!  The men's field spread out after the first few minutes and everyone settled in for an approximately 40 minute climb to the top of the resort.  Traction was good with the new, cold snow....I think JB & I topped out around 8th & 10th-ish.  The first descent wasn't terribly long, yet I manged to catch two racers and had a blast in the new snow!! 

The second climb finished with a boot pack topping out once again on another peak.  The front four guys were right in front only a minute up on the boot pack, so I was charged to catch some folks on the descent, which was reasonably long this time.

Having some visuals of the guys in front of me (they might as well of had targets on their backs!) helps a ton as you can key off of their lines, helped immensely ...I reeled in two more racers and found myself in 3rd place, and most importantly....sitting in a qualifying spot for the US Team!!

The last climb was long...about 1800ft up in soft snow.  I had pressure from 4th & 5th as Luke Nelson (already a qualifier from yesterday) & Travis Scheefer (DNF'd yesterday so he was looking to qualify today) were hot on my tails.  Ten minutes into the climb they got around me and held a STRONG pace to the top ...nearly catching Brandon French and Reiner in front of me!  At this point with 20-25 minutes left of climbing I got down some sugar (energy) and held off some surges from behind to top out with a 20-30 second gap on the next skier.

Boot, binding, skin rip .....and I was out of there and on down one last hairy descent to the finish! 1hr 44minutes and 5400ft of climbing later and I was on the US Team along with fellow Crested Buttian, Travis Scheefer!  Goal accomplished! 

Sticking around the finish area to watch the women come in and it was Sari Anderson -1st, Janelle Smiley-2nd, Monique Merrill - 3rd (all having Qualified from the previous day), ....and capturing the final two qualifying sports on the US Team for the day were Jari Kirkland -4th and Amy Fulwyler -5th.....

...Now its time to drink a beer and recover!!  Got back to CB at 3AM Monday morning....and the Packers Won!!  

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