Part of the Kootenay Coldsmoke Powder Fest, the 7th annual ROAM Randonnee Rally skimo race took place around the boundaries of the Whitewater Ski Resort last Saturday.
As always, the whole three day festival was a great spectacle thanks to very enthusiastic organizers, and with Mother Nature timing a delivery of 30+ cm of new pow to perfection, the day and night before.
New race course + conditions
For this year’s event, the ROAM Shop organizing crew stepped up the game and introduced great changes to the previous race course. These changes made the whole route more direct, more technical and very playful.
Weather was cooperating as well – mild temperatures, thin cloud, no wind, and amazing overnight powder.
However, all that new snow was giving a headache to the local ski patrol team, thus, the overall vertical gain was shortened to 1120m or 3700 feet (based on my watch).
As it happened
Women’s category highlights are written in italics.
After the start, we spent the first 5-10 min on a low angle cat track that delivered us out of bounds where all fun started.
Up and up, through old forest and glades, countless switchbacks took us on a broad ridge 450m above the Whitewater ski resort. Then an up-and-down ridge walk followed, with lots of snow eating on a short mandatory skins-on downhill.
As no one was super keen on taking the lead once off the line I went for it. I wasn’t totally sure what pace to set as I knew another battle with a strong Ben Parsons was going to be inevitable. Eric Carter and Ben sat right on my tails until I ate my share of snow on the skins-on descent. Eric took over with Ben and his friend Alan trailing, and me chasing right back to 2nd place in the first transition.
From what I learnt, it seems like girls had an equally entertaining first hour of racing, with the leading three – Martha Burley, Michelle Roberts, Marg Fedyna – staying closely together and as well feeding on the fresh storm snow.
» For more details on the women’s race see Michelle Roberts’ blog write-up
Out of the first transition I was leading again, carving big turns down an untracked slope, using the almighty skimo back-seat technique. Eric and Ben followed in the same manner, reaching the bottom transition about 20 to 40 sec behind.
Girls were settling their pecking order on this descent as well. Martha Burley is one hell of a skier and took control right away, leaving Michelle and Marg in a powder cloud.
Next climb was about 400m and finished with a bootpack to gain another ridge, this time on the other side of the Whiterwater Resort.
Despite trying to open a bigger gap to Eric he was able to close it within 20 sec again as I had to set a fresh pow skin track for couple minutes before the bootpack. Ben was now trailing further behind. But it ain’t over until it’s over…
For girls, the race was decided on this climb with Martha slowly watching her gap grow with Michelle and Marg chasing.
Green light: Avy control hold up
After traversing the ridge with small up and downs we were supposed to traverse slopes below cliffs and above a big alpine bowl. Here, to my surprise, I caught up to a ski patroller that was about to set a bootpack for us. Clearly, he was surprised as well and instructed us to wait behind him until they finish ski cutting the bootpack chute.
Standing there with Eric we had time to joke about the situation, with Ben joining us for a chat soon after.
Couple of minutes later, a “slope testing” patroller finally emerged from behind a rocky rib giving us the green light. However, the light turned out not to be as green as he thought as Eric managed to bury him in a small slab soon after 🙂 He was OK 😉
Finishing the day off
After that, all jokes aside, the three of us decided to treat the order before the bootpack as the final result. Then Ben set us up with a bootpack as a pay back for earlier track setting.
I led the following short but treed descent with boys closely behind me, hitting surprising jumps one after another. I put the hammer down on the last climb just to finish off a great workout. Eric went with me while Ben’s skins let him down.
The last descent rewarded us with more deep powder turns and some fast chopped up “groomers”.
Full results are coming soon.
1. Stano Faban
2. Eric Carter
3. Ben Parsons
4. Martin Lafontaine
1. Martha Burley
2. Michelle Roberts
3. Marg Fedyna
4. Katarina Kuba