Monday, December 17, 2012

First COSMIC Races of the Season Durango/Wolf Creek

If you've been following our blog and/or have been getting out for ski touring in Colorado, you know its been a struggle to get super psyched for Winter.  We even had to reschedule the Irwin/LaSportiva Skimo race on Dec 8th to April 13, 2013.

Well someone finally turned the faucet on, and no one is apparently ready to turn it off!

With forecasts of up to 2' at Wolf Creek this past Friday (12/15/12), the Crested Butte Skimo Mafia loaded the truck and headed to Durango, CO to the first ever Friday Night Lights sprint race at Chapman Hill.

The course consisted of a mass start climb up 200', rip skins and point 'em down a "GS Course".  Transition at the bottom, put skins back on and climb up a different skin track of 200', with a boot pack near the top and descend back down the same "GS Course".  Repeat this twice more for the first climb, and once more for the second climb, for a total of five climbs/descents.

Chapman Hill is owned by the Durango Parks & Recreation Dept., if you grew up in the Upper Midwest or lower East Coast, skiing under the lights at night...you'll get the picture.  (2-5 ski runs, one rope tow, lights...and occasionally it snows).

Needless to say it was dumping all day in the San Juans and conditions were powder that night.  The course had several uphill tracks for passing so everything looked and felt professional.

The (incomplete) results from the Sprint were:

Scott Simmons - 1st                         Janelle Smiley -1st in the female category
Marshall Thompson - 2nd
Jon Brown - 3rd
Bryan Wickenhauser - 4th
Pete Swenson -5th

5 laps and just over 1000' in under 29 minutes...16m/min...lung burner, time to rest and recover for tomorrow.


With the lure of 20-24" of new snow at Wolf Creek the next day we fueled up and headed over to Pagosa Springs for the night's sleep.

The Wolf Creek venue was new to COSMIC and had everyone jazzed up.  Their ski patrol was doing an amazing job of mitigating avalanche hazard for the course, so the start was delayed till 9AM.  That allowed us to showcase the sport to the general public. 

Off the start it was the usual suspects.... Marshall & Scott up front with JB & myself (Wick) in tow.  Due to all the new snow there were some course modifications, so they had us going up the lookers right side of the resort on a ski run.  The first descent was down an uncharted backcountry ski run...luckily there were a few skiers who had done some cutting up of the powder, so we could maintain some speed on the flats.  Visibility was nil and terrain changes were hard to see at speed so it made for some hair ball descending!
Crested Butte Skimo Mafia (JB, Wick, Marshall, Janelle)

The race quickly became a three person race at the front with Marshall, Scott and myself pulling away (JB became lost on course for a bit....).  The first of two big laps took us just over an 1:15 in real back country snow/conditions.  Lots of locals skiing down on top of you, hooting and hollaring at the unbelievable amount of powder.

The second lap stayed the same with no real decisiveness in the group until about fifteen minutes left when Marshall made a move and neither Scott nor I could stay with.  In the end I was able to hold off Scott for 2nd place as it appeared Scott just ran out of energy.  Ben Kadlec pulled in for 4th and Jon Brown in for 5th.  Janelle Simley once again dominated the women's field ...watch out Europe, she is on a mission!

12.5 miles, 2hours and 27 minutes and 4738' of climbing 12m/min.

Now time to embrace the upcoming Winter Storm Watch!

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