The past weekend, Jan 10-11, was very busy with skimo racing events taking place all over the World. Here the highlights of how things went down.
Jan 10-11: Two days of racing in Wyoming
Three events at three different venues spread over two days brought exciting and super fast racing with the main prize being qualifying for the US National Team, thus, being selected for the upcoming World Skimo Championships in Verbier, Switzerland.
With memories of absurdly cold temperatures the last few editions of the Wyoming Rando Roundup, an attitude of resignation seemed to have overcome the racers, expecting the worst. Temperatures were a pleasant surprise, however, hovering right around freezing the entire weekend! Saturday morning, the individual race was held at Grand Targhee Resort and is known for ascending very steep groomers and descents on non-technical but leg-burning side-country runs. The race course was changed slightly but the event lived up to its reputation. Scott Simmons took off hard from the start with Tom Goth and Jason Dorais chasing. These three battled the entire race until Jason made a move for the lead and held a solid gap over the final climb and into the finish. Stevie Kremer won the women’s race with several minutes on Lindsay Plant in 2nd and Jessie Young in 3rd.
The Snow King Sprint on Saturday evening was designed to replicate a World Cup race course. The course was slightly long (around 6 min for the guys) but had all the key components – start up the groomer, technical switchbacks, a boot pack, a few more switchbacks, an icy decent around gates, and a final, wild, uphill skate to the finish. A time trial qualification round was held and every athlete had a chance to race the course on their own. After that, the top 12 men and women were identified for a final round run together. The men’s final started hard with Andy Dorais taking the lead from the start with Lars K and Eric Carter following in 2nd and 3rd. Women’s sprint race went to Jesse Young in front of Sara Cookler and Stevie Kramer.
On Sunday, less than 12 hours after finishing the sprint race, athletes lined up below the famous Jackson Hole Tram for the final individual race. With almost 2400 meters of elevation gain over five climbs, and two boot packs, this race is a long one in the North American series. It includes a shattering top-to-bottom descent through the resort that Max Taam blistered in 5 min and 30 sec. The top men saw a bit of a shake up with Tom Goth taking the lead on the last climb and Taam skiing strong into 2nd ahead of Jason Dorais. Stevie Kremer again dominated in the women’s race with Jessie Young jumping ahead of Lindsay Plant in 3rd.
» Results and photos: Wyoming Rando Roundup Photos and Results
Jan 10-11: Castle Skimo Race & Clinic
The second race of the Canadian Cup was held at Castle Mountain Resort in the south-west corner of Alberta. Last year’s event was marginalized due to severe weather but this time around we took on the full course.
Before Sunday’s race, several of us held a skimo clinic for the novice racers on Saturday. We started with an indoor session to discuss gear and various aspects of skimo racing. Then we went outside to learn and practice some of the skimo technique basics, mainly kick-turns and transitions. Altogether, we had about 15 keen people, ready to take on this beautiful sport.
Saturday’s elite race covered two big climbs with lots of technical sections – steep forest skinning with a long ridge line boot-pack and great fall line skiing.
Right from the start, Philipp Schädler, a German National Team athlete, took the race by the horns and only Travis Brown (Canadian Team Athlete) was able to follow in the beginning until Philipp eventually broke away for good. Behind them, a loosely spread out group of four formed – Peter Knight, Oliver Bibby, Steve Sellers and Stano – with a gap growing behind them. In the women’s race, Kylee Ohler started to pull away from her competitors once the race entered the technical skinning in the forest. At the end, Philipp won with a big margin over Travis who also greatly distanced our group that was lead home by Peter. Kylee, coming back after having two kids in the last few years, skied a superb race and won by a good margin in front of Michelle Roberts and Martha Burley.
The race introduced a young and a very talented athlete to our skimo community – Oliver Bibby. Oliver is only 19-years old, yet is a notable trail runner including racing at World Mountain Running Championships last September. He is strong on the up, skis well, and is quickly learning all technical aspects of skimo. In very short time, he could be a great threat to any seasoned racer in North America. So note the name and watch out!
» Full 2015 Castle skimo race results
Jan 10-12: First ISMF World Cup of the season
The World Cup weekend included a Monday event as well and so the world’s fastest skimo athletes got full 3 days of racing at Puy Saint Vincent, France.
Saturday’s individual race saw a big battle between Kilian Jornet (SPA), only an espoir Anton Palzer (GER), William Bon Mardion (FRA), and Xavier Gachet (FRA) when they all finished within 40 seconds! At the end, the win went to Palzer as Jornet skied off course in the last descent and was disqualified. Gachet and Mardion were 2nd and 3rd respectively. In the women’s race, there was no surprise with Laetitia Roux (FRA) taking the win. Podium was rounded out by her national team mate Axelle Mollaret and Jennifer Fiechter (SWI) who are bought only espoir racers.
Sunday’s sprint race brought an entertaining battle again. This time, with a big surge half way through the final race and nailing all his transition, Roberto Antonioli (ITA) took the win before two Germans – Anton Palzer and Josef Rottmoser. Laetitia Roux won comfortably again, this time ahead of another national team mate Valentine Fabre, with Spain’s Claudia Galicia taking bronze.
Seemed like Kilian Jornet took the Sunday’s sprint easy and refocused well for the Monday’s vertical race. He went strong right from the start and held on to a slim 5 second gap by the finish line in front of the hero of the weekend Anton Palzer. Werner Marti took third for Switzerland. In the women’s race, Laetitia Roux delivered as was expected and won her third race of the weekend, however, athletes behind her switched up once again with Victoria Kreuzer (SWI) and Axelle Mollaret taking 2nd and 3rd respectively.
Canada’s Melanie Bernier had a rough start to her World Cup season as jet lag and altitude compromised her performances over the 3 days. Melanie finished 18th, 8th, and 18th again in the events discussed above. She is experienced and should quickly bounce back so watch for her in the upcoming races on the world stage.
There were no US racers participating despite John Gaston’s name being present on the start lists.
» FULL RESULTS from the ISMF World Cup weekend can be found here
Upcoming events in next two weeks
- Jan 17 – The Heathen Challenge, CO
- Jan 24 – Berkshire East Rando Race, MA
- Jan 24 – Shasta Ascension Backcountry Race, CA
- Jan 31 – Crowbar SkiMo Race, UT
- Jan 31 – Divine Incline, CO
- Jan 24 – ISMF series race – Dogtooth Dash hosts 2015 BUFF Canadian Skimo Championships
The next World Cup event will be held in Andorra at Font Blanca and will feature a Vertical and an Individual event. For the Canadian Team, Melanie Bernier will be joined by an espoir racer Katarina Kuba. The US Team will be represented by John Gaston and Eric Carter.