Last couple of days have been the busiest and the most exciting for the skimo world in all of this season. Let’s not waist screen space and dive right into it…
Upcoming Pan American Ski Mountaineering Championships – Mar 23-25
We want to bring your attention again to the upcoming Championships that will take place over three days in the beautiful Lake Louise Ski Resort in Alberta, Canada.
The event will features three different races – vertical on Friday, sprint on Saturday, individual on Sunday – and is expected to attract the fastest athletes from US, Canada and maybe even Mexico and South America.
The prizes are plenty, there is quite a bit of new snow at the venue, and athletes of all levels are welcome to line up along National team members either on the same courses or shortened versions.
For all event’s details and for registration please go here.
Mike Foote Sets a New 24h Record!
On the morning of March 17, after months of training and preparation, Mike Foote started to climb his first of the 60 laps in an attempt to set a new 24 hour world record in the most vertical climbed and skied. The next morning, he would become the new world record holder with a total of 61,200 vertical feet or 18,654 metres climbed!
As our friend, we cannot be more proud and happy for him! Yeaaah! 🙂
For many, Mike might be unknown but in the endurance trail running world he has achieved some incredible results over the years such as a podium at the famed Ultra-Trail Du Mont Blanc and 3x second place at Hardrock 100. Mike is also The North Face Athlete, member of the US National Ski Mountaineering Team, raced Pierra Menta in 2017 and placed 26th in a vertical race at the 2017 World Skimo Championships.
We will have more details coming about Mike’s training and his record attempt in an interview in the next couple of days.
2018 Pierra Menta: Joy and Sorrows of Champions
Mid-March is traditionally reserved for the iconic 4-day stage race in the beautiful mountains surrounding Beaufort and Areches villages in France.
United States fielded arguably their strongest team ever – John Gaston (previously 15th at this race) and Tom Goth – who ultimately placed in the top 10 overall to set a new men’s North American historical benchmark at PM.
> Overall results are here our day-by-day recap below will provide the full story.
Men’s race recap:
While last year’s supreme winners, Italy’s Damiano Lenzi and Matteo Eydalin, were the biggest favourites on paper there were other three teams that could seriously thinking about winning.
The first day went super well for a local French team, William Bon Mardion and Xavier Gachet, who were the underdogs coming into the race, as they took the win by a couple of seconds ahead of Italians Robert Antonioli and Michele Boscacci. Only a minute behind, third place went to the famous Spaniard Kilian Jornert and his new teams race partner Jakob Herrmann from Austria. Time gaps were very small between the top three teams. Lenzi and Eydalin struggled to fourth place with almost five minutes down on the victors.
> John Gaston and Tom Goth eased into the race to place 16th.
On day 2, traditionally hosting the longest stage, things started to get really interesting when Jornet and Herrmann forced the pace most of the day to take the win. Lenzi and Eydalin abandoned the race as they didn’t feel up to the task. Boscacci and Antonioli battled the whole way but ultimately finished second again, yet loosing only 4 seconds to the winning team. The French team conceded over 4 minutes and it was safe to assume they fell out of contention for the overall win.
> John Gaston and Tom Goth delivered a great performance to claim 10th in the stage and moved up to 12th overall.
Boscacci and Antonioli started the day 3 in “pole position”, leading Jornet and Herrmann by about a minute in the overall. However, thanks to Jornet’s experience and motivation of his teammate they pushed the pace in grand fashion to win the stage by over 3 minutes ahead of the Italians, and claiming the overall lead by about 2 minutes. Gachet and Bon Mardion finished safely in 3rd.
> Gaston and Goth continued with their measured effort to place 11th in the stage and staying 12th overall.
The final day brought the biggest disappointment in skimo’s recent history and a bag of mixed emotions. As Jornet and Herrmann were on a mission once again, the Spaniard suffered a fall in a descent mid-stage and broke his lower leg. He is fine otherwise. Heavy wet snow was coming down since the morning to make conditions really challenging. Behind them an amazing battle for the stage win unleashed as Bon Mardion and Gachet found their legs from day one. At the end, they beat the Italian team by only 12 seconds with Boscacci and Antonioli collapsing in the finish to claim the surprising overall title.
> The US Team rallied into 8th place in the stage and jumping to 10th overall.
Women’s race recap:
The women’s race was a little less exciting but it did bring a surprise. The strongest team on paper, French Laetitia Roux with Sweden’s Emelie Forsberg, uncharacteristically struggled to even match the duo of Axelle Mollaret (FRA) and Katia Tomatis (ITA), and kept loosing minutes in the first three stages. Only on the last day did they prevail to claim at least one stage. On the other hand, Mollaret and Tomatis delivered a spectacular performance to win three stages and the overall title by 11 minutes over Roux and Forsberg.
Third place was never really contested as Spanish team of Mireia Miro and Marta Garcia put in a solid effort every day to always place 3rd.
Of note, is the fourth place of a purely Swedish team consisting of Ida Nilsson and Fanny Borgstrom.
USA and Canada Race News
Marmot’s Revenge – Jasper, AB – Mar 17, 2018:
The Canadian Cup came together for the third weekend in a row at Marmot Basin in Jasper, AB for the very first time of this event. Fresh snow day prior to the race made for soft conditions along with warm temperatures. The Canadian Rockies snow-pack is deep at the moment and with a mid-mountain start, racers were treated to excellent skiing. Unfortunately, dense fog rolled onto the course making for challenging race conditions. Racers in the elite course covered five ascents and descents totaling approximately 1800 meters of climbing.
Peter Knight, the devious course designer, broke trail up the first climb. After the first descent, Nick Elson, feeling strong after two recent wins at Panorama and Squamish, pushed off the front with only Eric Carter following his track. The two swapped the lead through the remaining race until Elson opened a gap on the final boot-pack and transition, skiing into the finish with a 10 second lead.
Kylee Ohler remains the undisputed women’s leader and won, also taking 5th overall, with more than 30min gap over second place Marg Fedyna. The third step on the podium went to Courtney Post.
> Full results
Shedhorn Race – Big Sky Montana – Mar 17, 2018:
With arguably the scariest course on the North American skimo circuit this race is no joke! The big terrain of this unique resort provides a spectacular setting for a proper ski mountaineering event.
While we don’t have the backstory from this race we will mention the winners on the elite course and you can find out the rest in the results below. First place in the men’s category went to Max Taam, who is US Skimo Team member and one of the best skimo athletes on the continent when it comes to technical courses. In the women’s category the top prize went to Sierra Anderson from Breckenridge, CO.
> Full results
East Coast races:
We don’t have any reports from that side of the country this week.
Those not attending Continental Championships in Canada will likely be competing at the Elk Mountain Grand Traverse from Aspen to Crested Butte. It’s a bit too early to make any predictions about weather conditions but we do suspect that repeat champions, John Gaston and Max Taam will be tough to beat, even with John likely tired from his amazing performance at Pierra Menta. Or is Max coming to race in Lake Louise? Who do you think will put up the best fight? What do you expect to see from the women’s teams? Let us know what you think!