By Jari Kirkland....
So this last weekend was the two day Gore-Tex North American Ski Mountaineering Championships race in Crested Butte, CO. The first day of racing was Saturday, which was the sprint race. This is a 5 to 7 minute race and from the first step to the last one is an all out heart-is-going-to-explode go all out race.
|Matt Thayer Bib #18 Photo:Dan Madden|
It happens to be one of the most fun races we get to compete in all year! You can see almost the entire course from the start/finish line very spectator friendly. After my race I chose to watch the Men's Race a few feet from the top (about 150ft of Total vertical/lap...two separate laps). That way I was able to see who was coming and cheer them on twice!
|Marshall Thompson leaving the Start of the Sprint Race. Uley's Cabin in background. -20F+! Photo: Dan Madden|
It started off as an incredible cold morning.... -20F to be exact when we left the house and it had only warmed up 4 degrees by the time we started skinning to Uley’s cabin on CBMR. Before the race, folks were already having skin problems. Meaning the piece of gear that we stick to the bottom of our skis to make them stick when we go uphill, were not sticking. It was just too cold.
|Jason Dorais #27 and Brian Smith (Team CB) apply skins in the Sprint transition...pray they stick! Photo: Dan Madden|
Off the start I felt really good. Had a good first transition but then when it came to second transition and putting my skins back on, I couldn’t get them to stick....Grrrrr! So after I had tried and failed with two skins I knew the third had to work or I wasn’t going to finish. So in a state of panic I tried to warm them up and get them to stick. All I could think about was the time I was losing, my hands are freezing...... and how absolutely frustrating it was to know the time was just ticking by, or in this case time was flying by.
When it was all said and done Jon Brown had the best race on the Team, but the rest of us had our "issues" and looked forward to Day Two. Post race we got to hang out and have breakfast at Uley’s cabin with all the other racers. These are the times when you realize that ski mountaineering racers are really, really great and you get to share breakfast with them and share each other’s “war stories of the day.”
|Michael Hagen at the Finish Line of the Sprint course Photo: Dan Madden|
That afternoon, we got all our gear together and relaxed, ate, relaxed and had to go to one more meeting in the evening about “Day 2 and the Guide Ridge” and the "skills/gear check".
At the base of CBMR Sunday morning it was time to get inside “the hurt locker”. It was all out from the start. From my point of view the guys take off like a bullet out of a gun. It is quite amazing. When we got half way up the first climb we roped in and got to ascend the Guides Ridge to the Peak of Mt CB (12,196ft....over 1,000ft of fixed rope. The rigging of this section was done by our Crested Butte Professional Ski Patrol.) It was great and by that I mean the views were superb since I had plenty of time to look around because it got a little bit backed up. It was nice because I got to hang out in my CAMP Alp 95 harness, tied in with my CAMP via ferrata and ascender in my SCARPA Alien 1.0 boots with my SkiTrab race skis on my back with other racers having a good ole time! It took a while for us to summit but it was worth it. Then on to more descending and ascending (about 5,000ft up and down).
|Racer's take off on Day Two Photo: Dan Madden|
|Athletes on the Guide Ridge. Marnie Mattner Photography|
|Ian Gale of Canada near the Finish Line, Day Two Photo: Dan Madden|
|The Flying Wedge by John Photo: Dan Madden|
When it was all done it was one wonderful weekend. Even though there were frustrating times is was one incredible weekend....racer's from Canada, Italy, Slovakia and Spain were stoked on CB!!!! Congrats to Jon Brown 9th and Brian Smith 11th. Thanks to CAMP for dialing in a whole lot of racers with Via Ferrata set ups, SCARPA for making sweet, sweet boots and SkiTrab for the best skis on the planet. And last but not least Crested Butte Mountain Resort for both letting us have the coolest races in North America and for supporting athletes. THANKS!!!!!
|Our town Mayor...the Honorable Huck & Tom Boyle going over results/awards. Thanks Gore-Tex! Photo: Dan Madden|