November 22nd saw the first race of the North American Skimo Racing calendar this year and things are shaping up to make for a highly competitive season!
In the U.S., National Team Qualifying events begin in Colorado on December 6th. An official ISMF race, the Irwin Guides/Griggs Orthopedics Skimo Race, presented by Millet, is unique to the North American circuit. The race is held in the Elk Mountain backcountry and accessible only by snow cat or snowmobile.
The event features both an elite ‘Race’ division and a ‘Recreational’ class. The ‘Race’ course features ~5000 feet of elevation gain over three laps while the ‘Rec’ course covers ~3500 feet. If you check out the map below, you will see that the high altitude will be a factor with the start line above 10,000 feet and reaching nearly 12,500 feet!
Race Director, Bryan Wickenhauser, anticipates that the full course will be run as planned with more than 30 inches on the ground and another major storm in the forecast. As with any ISMF events, mandatory kit is required, including avalanche gear and a backpack that can be used to carry skis. Additionally, due to the nature of the venue (backcountry) it is highly recommended that competitors bring extra warm clothes for pre and post race.
The 2013 race featured a battle between five of the top men with John Gaston powering away from the group on the descents and finishing in a time of 1:58:39 ahead of Brian Smith and Tom Goth. Stevie Kremer took the women’s race with a decided lead over Sari Anderson and Mckenna Douglas. Read Jeremy Reitmann’s write-up of the race for SkinTrack.com HERE.
The 2014 edition of the race is certain to be exciting with racers competing for a spot on the US World Championship Team. Wickenhauser had the following predictions for the race:
It’s tough to tell who’s fitness and technique will be in good early season form but with the early season snow here in CO and the race venue being at 10,000’+, John Gaston, Marshall Thompson & Brian Smith have to be the favorites of the CO boys. Jason Dorias & Tom Goth are the favorites coming out of UT as they have been nailing a ton of vertical this Summer/Fall in the Wasatch. Don’t be surprised if Jon Brown or Scott Simmons sneak on the podium as well. On the women’s side, the favorite is probably Stevie Kremer, coming off of her Sky Running World Champion title and residing locally here in CB. Beyond Stevie, it’s a race for second with Lyndsey Plant, Sari, and Meredith June Edwards battling for podium spots.
Wickenhauser also stressed the post-race party on Saturday evening:
Expect a fun awards party in the middle of the weekend of racing with the CB Avy Awareness party following our Irwin Race awards party at the same location. Racers and local BC skiers alike will be tipping back plenty of UpSlope beer together!
In addition to the Individual Race on Saturday, a Vertical Race will be held on Sunday as a qualifier for the World Championship Vertical event. While the course is still being finalized, it will most likely take place at Crested Butte Mountain Resort and feature approximately 1,500 vertical feet of ascent and take between 23 and 30 minutes.
Register for The Irwin/GO Skimo Race Here: REGISTER
Follow updates and last minute details on the race Facebook page HERE