It was an exciting weekend in the skimo racing world with the first ever World Cup taking place in China! The Wanlong venue will be hosting some of the sports for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic Games.
The American Rockies continue with low-tide snow conditions while the Alps are hammered hard by a storm that marks their start of the season. The Canadian Rockies and Coast Mountains have had a much more promising start followed by high pressure period that allowed skiers to venture into the alpine and attempt some bigger lines.
USA and Canada Race News
Unfortunately the COSMIC race at Irwin Lodge in Colorado was cancelled due to low snow but this was made up for by the previously postponed Wolf Creek Rando Race that got moved to Dec 17th and ran without a hitch.
Wolf Creek Rando Race – Wolf Creek Ski Area, CO – Dec 17, 2017
For a ski area usually lush with snow, usually earliest to open, and the deepest base, even Wolf Creek at 10,300 feet has been challenged this year. Northeast aspects were holding pockets of sugary snow as the course made it’s way along the Continental Divide trail via boot-pack.
Cam Smith, freshly graduated from Western State University & US Ski mountaineering team member, captured his first overall individual win, covering 3300ft of gain over 8 miles in 1h 36min, besting much more experienced racers Scott Simmons, Chris Carr, Rory Kelly, and Jon Brown.
On the women’s side, Breckenridge local, Jaime Brede captured the women’s win in 2h 24min.
This race was made possible by the tireless efforts of Jesse Morehouse and Richard Piltingsrud of the Colorado Army National Guard. We cannot thank them enough for the efforts in promoting ski mountaineering in the United States!
» Full results – Wolf Creek skimo race Dec 17, 2017
There were no races in Canada this weekend but the Canadian National Team did meet up in Revelstoke, BC for a training camp focused on downhill skills. The team covered downhill fundamentals starting on groomed runs and moving to steeper un-groomed terrain under the watchful eye of veteran racer Melanie Bernier.
In non-racing news, the high pressure in Canada has allowed skiers in the Rockies to get after some big lines. Notably, the SW face of Mt. Assiniboine saw its first ski descent over the weekend!
International Race News
ISMF World Cup – Wanlong, China – Dec 15-16, 2017
Meanwhile, the ISMF World Cup made its first stop of the season with an unusual trip to Wanlong, China. There was a strong turnout from international athletes (especially compared to last season’s Wold Cup race in Turkey) despite the unique challenges of the event. However, no North American athletes attended.
The weekend featured a short vertical race (around 500m ascent) and a sprint race, but no individual. This is likely due to the nature of the venue – a small ski resort with no natural snow. The base was entirely man-made snow thanks to extremely cold temperatures that athletes had to battle with.
The vertical took only 16:58 for Anton Palzer (GER), finishing 12 seconds ahead of Werner Marti (SWI) who was followed by Michelle Boscacci (ITA). The race did feature more than 10 racers from China, South Korea, and Japan – arguably the best turnout from Asian countries ever.
There were 19 women competing in the vertical race with Axelle Mollaret (FRA) winning convincingly almost 30 seconds ahead of Claudia Galicia (SPA) and Alba De Silvestro (ITA) coming in 3rd further 4 seconds behind.
» Vertical results – World Cup – Dec 15, 2017
Because of the extreme cold (down to -25C), several racers chose not to start the sprint, including vertical race winner Toni Palzer. Palzer released a statement expressing his dismay that the ISMF would allow racers to compete in such potentially dangerous (health damaging) cold conditions. We can agree with him because cold-induced asthma (exercise-induce asthma by cold air) and other undesirable effects of cold air on athletes’ airways can lead to prolonged health problems.
Italy topped the men’s results but not one of the names we would usually expect. The winner was a quickly upcoming espoir athlete Nicolo Canclini (ITA) who won over Oriol Cardona Coll (SPA) and Iwan Arnold (SWI).
Laetitia Roux (FRA) dominated the women’s sprint as usual, with Claudia Galicia (SPA) and Swiss espoir Marianne Fatton rounding out the podium.
» Sprint Results – World Cup – Dec 16,2017
The next World Cup event will take place on the weekend of January 20, 2018 in Switzerland with sprint and individual races.
There are no major races scheduled in North America over the holiday weekend but early January there will be a couple of events:
- The Grand Mesa Grind at Powderhorn Resort – Jan 6, 2018
- Canadian Cup race at Castle Mountain, AB – Jan 6-7, 2018
For a full racing calendar see our Events page.