February News Shorts: Skimo racing in USA, Europe and Canada

Tom Goth on Guide's Ridge at US National Championships. Grace Owens Photo.

Tom Goth on Guide’s Ridge at US National Championships. Grace Owens Photo.

We’ve been a bit behind with our news updates, mostly because we’ve been busy racing. See what has been happening in skimo racing over the last month!

» For previous weekend’s racing news see here.

USA West

Santa Fe Fireball:

In New Mexico, racers met at the Santa Fe ski area to compete in the COSMIC race Santa Fe Fireball.  The race is primarily inbounds with ~4000ft of climbing. More sparsely attended than some COSMIC events, the Fireball featured the veteran Pete Swenson who took the top step ahead of ultra-runner turned skimo racer Paul Hamilton. The women’s race was handily won by Stevie Kremer almost uncontested with Sarah Stubbe finishing in second and Kate Ferlic in third.

Results

US Nationals:

The focus of North American skimo turned to the town of Crested Butte in mid-February for the US National Championships event featuring a vertical race as well as an individual and teams race, both on the infamous Guide’s Ridge course. Conditions in CB were firm and sunny throughout the weekend with uncharacteristically warm temps for February in Colorado’s high country. With a starting elevation of ~10,000 feet, altitude was a major factor in all races.

In the Vertical, John Gaston and Rory Kelly pulled away from the field with local Marshal Thompson chasing strong. Megan Kimmel gave a strong performance on the all-groomer course with a healthy lead above Sara Kadlec and Stevie Kremer. SkinTrack’s Eric Carter came in 5th.

Vertical Results

The youngest competitor at US Nationals: 12 year old Max Kilcoyne racing the vertical. COSMIC Photo.

The youngest competitor at US Nationals: 12 year old Max Kilcoyne racing the vertical. COSMIC Photo.

Saturday’s Individual race featured a long, icy, mogul climb to start with (wouldn’t be racing in the US without at least one of these) and followed by several shorter descents and ascents leading towards the final boot-pack onto and up the Guide’s Ridge. The ridge is ~400 ft of granite rock steps with climbing rope fixed the entire way. Racers use both via ferrata and a handled ascender to scramble up the 4th class terrain. Most find this difficult in the least with some ending up fumbling with their gear or completely gripped. Tom Goth pushed the pace from the start but John Gaston showed his abilities quickly moving into the lead. Max Taam skied from ~10th place up to 2nd by the end of the final descent, with Goth rounded out the podium. In women’s race, Jessie Young stayed well ahead of the field with an almost four minute lead over once-again-strong Janelle Smiley and Stevie Kremer. Also of note is the U-23 and U-18 categories who had strong representation from local collegiate athletes!

Individual Results

The Teams event featured much of the same course as the individual with less climbing and more time on flat terrain but still finishing on the Guide’s Ridge. Marshall Thompson and Rob Krar took off hard from the start while John Gaston and Max Taam lurked behind until taking the lead on the second climb, continuing their unbeaten teams-race streak. Ultra-runners Mike Foote and Paul Hamilton had a strong performance, skiing well into second place! The women’s field had only three teams with the Meredith Edwards – Janelle Smiley duo ending up off the course and receiving a DQ. Jessie Young and Lindsay Plant took the women’s podium (finishing 13th overall).

Teams Results

Want more coverage of women’s racing? We need a female correspondent! Send us an email if you’d like to contribute!

Stevie Kremer and Lindsay Plant racing to victory at the Power of 4. Jeremy Swanson Photo.

Stevie Kremer and Lindsay Plant racing to victory at the Power of 4. Jeremy Swanson Photo.

Power of Four

The Power of Four is a classic Colorado COSMIC series event that brings top teams to Aspen-Snowmass. Racing in teams of two at high altitude, it is a relatively spectator friendly event with good resort access. Local heroes, John Gaston and Max Taam skied tactically, letting Paul Hamilton and Scott Simmons tag along until the final climb and descent before pulling away and smashing the previous course record. Mike Foote and Rob Krar put in a strong performance finishing in third. An unusually strong women’s field was topped by Lindsay Plant and Stevie Kremer finishing with time to spare, ahead of Sarah Kadlec and Lindsay Meyer.

Power of 4 Results

Upcoming in the Western US is this weekend’s Wasatch Powder Keg (and Continental Championships). A classic event at Brighton Resort in Utah that is expertly organized by Chad Bracklesberg and Nick Francis. They had this to say about the upcoming weekend:

We have worked hard on a new individual course this year, which features far more off piste skinning (not gnarly bumps, but good euro style skin tracks through Wasatch forest (Thank God – Ed.)), totalling 6800 feet of gain for the race division.  Race conditions all three days look to be spring-like, with warm temperatures and sunshine, which should make for a fast course.  Overall the course is in excellent condition, with supportable south aspects and some good chalky snow in the northern aspects.  Friday will feature our traditional sprint course, and Sunday is the excellent teams event, covering over 8K of vert through technical climbs and descents around the central Wasatch.
Our predictions are for Tom Goth to take the mens individual and sprint.  On the womens side, it will be a battle between Gemma Arro Ribot, Jessie Young, and Meredith Edwards for the individual and sprint.  The teams event is anyones guess, but will almost certainly feature some of the same fast folks from the individual.  With John Gaston, Max Taam, and Scott Simmons out of the country traveling to Pierra Menta, the leader board will certainly be different than the last few races.  Yet to be seen if some of the new racers from the ultra community will challenge Tom for the top spot, but this weekend will see how they fare…

The next COSMIC race is the Breckenridge 5-Peaks on March 12th.

USA East

Burke:

After the Northeastern U.S. skimo season kicked off on January 23, the action shifted to the very northern tip of Vermont at Burke Mountain, which also attracted a large Quebec contingent.  Snow conditions have been rather ungenerous to New England so far this season, but Burke still had enough snow (barely) to pull off all the ascents and descents on natural snow.  The ~5,400’ cumulative vertical included seventeen transitions with six separate bootpacks, with lots of especially tricky skinning on the first ascent up a narrow twisty hiking trail. Dynafit athlete Marshall Thompson, visiting family back East, took first, followed by Quebec leader (and former MTB pro) George Visser, and  Andrew Drummond (in his skimo debut).  Skimo East co-director and former Canadian Olympic cyclist Lyne Bessette was the top woman and also took fourth overall.

Jonathan Vass racing on the East Coast. Burke Mountain Photo.

Jonathan Vass racing on the East Coast. Burke Mountain Photo.

Berkshire East

The circuit took a hiatus for traditional races until February 27, when the Mount Greylock 100% backcountry race with 0% snowpack was moved to Berkshire East. Jerimy Arnold won the hour-long crit-style race and followed up with another win in the dual-elimination multiple-round sprint race. But the final event threw a monkey wrench into the overall standings with an equalized-teams relay race, as newcomer Mark Trahan took the win for the day, with Race Director Jonathan Shefftz as runner-up.

Wildcat

The following day, Wildcat Mountain, literally across the street from New Hampshire’s famed Mount Washington, held its inaugural race, with local Andrew Drummond taking the win. Fortunately our unfortunate snow conditions actually improved the course layout, forcing the race organizers to abandon their initial plan of driving racers to a nordic trail network for a flat ascent back to the downhill resort, instead using the resort’s very efficient dedicated uphill route. However, as he skied both descents with his climbing skins in his hands, and also relied on a passing skier to bring down a dropped skin without hiking back up all the way, clearly the ISMF-adjusted win belonged to British national team member Daniel Gay only four seconds behind. Brian MacIlvain rounded out the podium.

Upcoming:

The Catamount Trail Association’s weekly series continues each Wednesday night at Bolton Valley VT.  The first race – and the first of its kind anywhere in New England – attracted a field of 78 skiers, led by Middlebury College sophomore Peter Howe and QT2 Systems triathlete coach John Spinney.

Coming up on March 5 is a rematch with Equipe Quebec at Jay Peak, just barely on the U.S. side of the international border. The 2015 course layout was the most challenging in the East, and currently Jay is one of the few venues anywhere in New England with a decent snowpack. Some U.S. racers might also venture across the border the next day for a race at Owl’s Head that is combined with the Jay race for overall weekend results.

Results and Photos (NE Rando Race FB Page)

Many more Burke professional pictures at:

https://daimo.smugmug.com/SkimoEast-Burke-VT-2016/

Thanks to our Skimo East Skintrack.com Correspondent Jonathan Shefftz!

Men and Women's podium at ROAM Randonne Rally in Nelson, BC.

Men and Women’s podium at ROAM Randonne Rally in Nelson, BC.

Canada

ROAM Randonne Rally – Nelson BC:

February was quiet in Western Canada with the exception of the ROAM Rando Rally in Nelson, BC. Held at Whitewater Ski Area, the ROAM Rando Rally has the most reliably deep powder of any race in North America. The race features three ascents and descents in-bounds and in the Whitewater slack country. In typical Nelson fashion, soon after course officials finished placing wands and setting skin tracks, the clouds closed in and snow started falling. Racers woke Saturday morning to 20+cm of fresh snow blanketing the skis area and covering tracks. A strong contingent of Canadian athletes as well as racers from Montana started up the groomed runs and quickly encountered deep trail breaking on course. With no-one keen to break trail, the pace stayed mellow and a large group formed on the first untracked powder descent.

After trading trail-breaking duties, the lead pack arrived at the top of the ridge on the final climb where they found freshly broken trail and the race spread out with a sprint down the final descent between Eric Carter and Ben Parsons while Peter Knight skied into third. Michelle Katchur-Roberts handily won the women’s field with Katarina Kuba in second and newcomer Lori Anne Howard in third.

ROAM Recap and Results

Upcoming:

The next race in the Canadian Ski Mountaineering Cup Circuit is the Ken Jones Classic – serving as Canadian National Championships – in Lake Louise, AB.

Registration is LIVE

Europe

Giulia Compagnoli (ITA) going face first into the cow pasture at Valtellina running to the finish line. (ISMF Photo)

Giulia Compagnoli (ITA) going face first into the cow pasture at Valtellina running to the finish line. (ISMF Photo)

Valtellina:

There was no instagram exaggeration for this one. There was literally no snow at the start line of the third World Cup event of the season. Racers sprinted uphill through a farmer’s pasture before skinning up an icy road. With only 40cm of snow on the ground at the high point of the race, coverage was sparse to say the least. Rocks were everywhere on descents waiting to bite and racers skinned over patches of grass throughout the race. Despite the conditions, the town of Valtellina Orobie rallied around their golden boy Michelle Boscacci and made it happen. With a sketchy run back down to the finish line on the steep farm field, Boscacci and Kilian Jornet decided mid-race not to contest the win and instead walk down hand in hand. Much to Kilian’s consternation, he was awarded the win over Boscacci according to ISMF rules that take finish order off chip time. North Americans in attendance were Nick Elson, Melanie Bernier, and Eric Carter.

Alpiniski/European Championships:

A three day race featuring Vertical, Individual, and Sprint events, the World Cup and European Championship races in Les Marecottes, Switzerland (very close to the site of last year’s World Championships) were a major departure from the preceding weekend. A dump of snow in the Rhone Valley transformed the venue into a winter wonderland. The Vertical event utilized a unusual time-trial start format due to low snow at the starting elevation, with racers starting alone, every 30 seconds. Kilian Jornet won the event, probably trying harder than usual because of being unaware of his placement until crossing the line.  Victoria Kreuzer won for the women.

Jornet and Palzer battle in Les Marecottes. Ski and Run Photo.

Jornet and Palzer battle in Les Marecottes. Ski and Run Photo.

Vertical Race Video

In the Individual, the race took advantage of the excellent terrain offered in the Les Marecottes ski area and the new snow. Skin tracks were soft but established and the course was slightly shortened due to avalanche danger at the high point. Racers started off hard as always and Kilian battled it out with Anton Palzer of Germany and the Italians. Sadly, Emelie Forsberg crashed out of the race with a knee injury.

The Sprint at Les Marecottes was dominated by Laetitia Roux and Robert Antonioli. Check out our analysis of their transitions here.

Sprint Race Video

Nick Elson and Eric Carter represented North America at the Alpiniski World Cup and Eric posted about his races here.

Roux and Antonioli are the European Sprint Champions! ISMF Photo.

Roux and Antonioli are the European Sprint Champions! ISMF Photo.

Transcavello:

Kilian pulling away from the field in Transcavello. Kilian FB Photo.

Kilian pulling away from the field in Transcavello. Kilian FB Photo.

With conditions pretty grim in much of Europe, it was not looking good for the World Cup held in the Italian Dolomites. Luckily a dump of snow arrived just in time and the races were confirmed. The Transcavello course is a test event for next season’s 2017 World Championships. As usual this season, the Men’s race was contested between Kilian Jornet, Anton Palzer and Michele Boscacci finishing in that order. Kilian took the lead early in the race and gradually build while the others chased hard. Similarly, Latetia Roux skied away from the field not to be seen again with a 5min gap over the second place women.

Individual Race Video

The sprint race was eerily similar to that of Alpiniski with Antonioli and Roux repeating as champion. This is the second to last event in the ISMF Sprint circuit which will conclude in Mondole, Italy in several weeks. Of note is the young Italian women Alba DeSilvestro taking the third spot on the podium.

Altitoy Teruna:

The first Grande Course (Long Distance World Cup) race of the season was held over the weekend in the Pyrenees despite heavy snowfall preceding the event. Two days of racing were dominated by the Spanish-French duo of Kilian Jornet and Matheo Jacquemod while the French wonder team of Latetia Roux and Axelle Mollaret won the women’s event ahead of the Spanish and Italian teams.

Jornet and Jaquemod running to the finish of Altitoy. Grande Course Photo.

Jornet and Jacquemod running to the finish of Altitoy. Grande Course Photo.

FINAL MEN:
1. Jornet – Jacquemod
2. Eydallin – Lenzi
3. Boscacci – Antonioli

FINAL WOMEN:
1. Roux – Mollaret
2. Miro – Farres
3. Valmassoi- Tomatis

Upcoming:

The ISMF Grand Course calendar is just getting wound up with the Pierra Menta and the Tour du Rotur just around the corner in March and April. Expect Jornet-Jacquemod to be a force to be reckoned with but don’t rule out any of the Italian combinations or the French team led by William Bon-Mardion. The US will be represented at the Pierra Menta by Gaston and Taam who will be looking to increase the top American finish benchmark of 15th place and hopefully keep things together to break into the top 10!

ISMF Racing News

Check out our big 2015/16 skimo calendar for upcoming events this week and into the future. Still lots of racing left this season!

 

Training Plans for Skimo Racing

Skimo Racing Manual

Comments

  1. Eric Carter says:

    Whoops – thanks guys!

  2. Thanks for the recap, they are always interesting to compare. One correction- you posted the Santa Fe results from last year. Those are the 2015 results, not the 2016 results!

  3. kycktrn says:

    I think you’ve mistakenly referenced the 2015 results for the Santa Fe Fireball. Here’s 2016 results: https://www.webscorer.com/race?raceid=61638
    Also, the Rio Hondo race in Taos that same weekend was killer! Results here:
    https://www.webscorer.com/race?raceid=61785
    Cheers.

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