After three months the Canadian skimo racing season ended yesterday with the final race held at Lake Louise Ski Area. It was the third annual Ken Jones Classic, organized by the Alpine Club’s of Canada Dave Dornian and Ryan Johnstone, and with huge backing from the ski area itself and plenty of enthusiastic volunteers. Thank you!
Conditions + race course
If you are going to race on March 23rd and forecast calls for sunny skies you are thinking about cutting venting holes in your clothes and not freezing your hands off while climbing! Start at 2000 m and at 8.40 am meant about -15 C with promising warming from the rising sun. Any cozy warm temps never came.
Snow was great, either soft packed or 20 cms of lightly wind-affected powder.
The race course was challenging, with four technical descents and plenty of switchbacks on the climbs, plus one long bootpack. In total about 1540 vertical metres of climbing.
Exciting racing – how it all went down
Women’s category goings are in italics.
The night before, at dinner, five of us figured and laughed that it’s really going to be anyone’s race. And it almost was.
A strong trio setup on the first climb (560 m) – Eric Carter, Brad Schalles, Peter Knight – and created a nice gap on Nick Elson and me little further back. With Steve Sellers not far behind me.
In the women’s category, Marg Fedyna lit up the climb and was comfortably leading Martha Burley and Michelle Roberts.
The first descent didn’t shake up the men’s order – the trio stayed together, Nick Elson bent a ski pole, and I was unsure whether I skied down the right chute.
The women’s order started to shuffle here but the top 3 were still quite close together.
Up the second climb (230 m), while trying to find my rhythm after last 2-3 weeks of tiredness, I had a front-row seat to watch the fight above. The trio was attacking each other but no one ever got a gap bigger than 2-3 metres. Nick going strong in fourth, me in fifth and Steve looking strong in sixth.
In women’s category, on this and next climb with the two technical descents after each Martha took lead thanks to her amazing skiing. Michelle was settling into second with Marg now third.
Third climb featured a long bootpack with switchbacks leading up to it. The trio was truly sticking it to each other on this section as I narrowed the gap to Nick to about 30 sec by the top transition.
The fourth and last climb (500 m) shook up things the most. First, Brad crashed into a tree just before the bottom transition, and then once on the climb, Eric amazingly fell into a tree well when the skin track gave in under his weight :). Collecting his skis and climbing out took some time and so Brad and Peter were left to fight it out.
Out of the transition, I finally closed the gap to Nick and we had a race on our hands as well. We managed to lose flags and trail for couple of minutes before reconnecting with the skin track once out of the woods. After that, the skinning was getting little tricky and I tried to get away. It worked and I carved out about 40 sec on Nick.
By the top of the climb, I could see that Brad and Peter were still close together with Eric trailing them by about 1.5 minutes.
In the women’s category, Martha was strongly holding onto her lead before the last descent which was going to be her strength anyway. Behind, Michelle was climbing her lungs out to make sure Marg doesn’t catch up.
Results for 2013 Ken Jones Classic
» Elite men
» Elite women
» Enduro men
» Enduro women
At the finish line, it was the first skimo win for Brad Schalles with Peter Knight coming only couple of seconds behind him. Eric Carter rounded out the podium further 2 min back. I came in fourth another 3 min back and about 1.5 min in front of Nick Elson.
Women’s race saw Martha Burley claim the top step once again this season. Michelle Roberts crossed the line in second but visibly worried about closing Marg.
Make sure to check back in couple of days as I will be writing a recap with interesting observations from this recent Canadian skimo racing season. In short, the sport is growing!
Thank you everyone for participating and wish you wicked spring skiing 😉