Monday, May 2, 2011

A-Basin Race Report - Year of the Gear Failure

"What can go wrong, will go wrong"....this year has been a challenge for me in several ways but nothing as depressing as the gear failure I've experienced/been a part of.  The first four years of my skimo racing experience had gone well with steady improvements and zero gear failures till this year...so I guess I was due.

The gear is inherently light and uses cutting edge materials like carbon fiber, and fiberglass.  Durability is often sacrificed in the name of weight savings, because this game is often won on the uphills as racers ask the manufacturer to make their (boots, bindings, skis, etc) lighter & lighter.  At some point something has to give and this year it was my turn.  I can at least thank god that it was not my body that broke, instead it was the year of gear failures for me.  I can't emphasize enough to myself that I still have my health, because coming back from a knee/back/hip/head injury (or worse) can be a long battle mentally & physically.
My F1 buckle with one screw back on.  I still need to get the other screw back in.  These two screw were the culprit for my DNF.  They even had blue threadlocker on em....hmmmm

The last race of the COSMIC series had $500 on the line and certainly grabbed the attention of all the usual suspects on the men's side.  Max Taam, Mike Kloser, Marshall Thompson, Chris Kroger and myself figured to be competing for the big pay day.  The weather was awesome as the snow gods blessed us with 12"+ of new,clod  snow on the course, which caused a half hour delay and a shortening of the course (no boot pack up East Wall and the last descent were all canceled).  Due to the new snow I figured it would be a more tactical race with some trail breaking required by the leader and keeping a tight lead group consequently.  The biggest issue was expected to be the wind chill up high with an air temp of 21F and winds of 10-20MPH, it was going to create some cold late April conditions!
Powder day at A-Basin
Yup....April 30th...STILL Winter!

The LeMans style start saw Marshall out in front followed closely by Kroger, Max, myself and Kloser.  The base elevation of A-Basin is close to 10,700ft (3,286M) so going anaerobic of the start can lead to trouble as the opening slope is quite pitched off the start.  I resisted the urge to match Marshall's tempo and settled in behind Max and let him to the "comfortable" pace making.
The first climb took us up about 1800 ft to the top of the Pallavicini lift.  Due to some unfortunate beta from a course worker, Marshall Thompson had been allowed to go through the transition area (top of the Palli Lift) and continued climbing instead of ripping his skins for the first descent.  Max & I topped out about 15 seconds behind Marshall and quickly yelled to him to get back down here to the correct transition....needless to say Marshall was pissed!  All three of us quickly ripped our skins, and descended down below the Palli lift on a bumped run, filled in with nearly knee deep pow, what a joy in late April!

That joy quickly ended......My second turn it was all over....UGH!  I'm still pissed as I type!  My F1 Carbon boot's two screws some how backed out and the buckle was rendered useless for downhill skiing.  All I could do was throw in the towel as there was no way I could keep up with anyone, let alone Max Taam and the crew....my chance at $500 was done.

I limped down the powder field, turned in my bib and headed back home.  On the way back down in the car it was a line of cars coming up Loveland Pass all trying to get to A-Basin and get one last lift served powder day in.....and all I could do was try and think about CS Irwin this December 10th....next year, clean slate.
Poor fella...kind of put my day in perspective...could always be worse!

My year had gone (nearly) just like this race....uncharacteristically skewed by gear failures.

The limited race report I got was that Sari Anderson won the women's field, with Stevie Kramer in 2nd.  In the men's field Max Taam won ($500), with Mike Kloser in 2nd ($250), and Marshall Thompson  taking 3rd ($100) and Chris Kroger 4th.....Wick-DNF!

Kevin Krill at Crested Butte Photography has some great photos here from the race....check em out!   Thanks K2 for capturing all the races this year!

Go ski May pow and get over it!  One race (season) doesn't define a person.

See you in Irwin next December.  Go ski, bike, run (yes, in the same day.... while you can!)

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