The BUFF Canadian Ski Mountaineering Championships took place last Saturday at Kicking Horse Resort as part of the 7th edition of Dogtooth Dash skimo race. The race was founded in 2009 by Ian Gale and Eric & I took over two years ago, as race directors, to continue the most popular Canadian skimo race going after Ian retired from organizing.
Before I go on to report on the race itself, I would really like to acknowledge the great work and help of all the volunteers! Since Eric was already in Europe, racing in his first World Cup, I faced a big challenge to deliver a fantastic race course once again. Despite 25 cm of fresh snow over night, morning avalanche controls and some last minute issues, everyone pulled extra hard to get the job done. Thank you all very much for your help!
Beyond that, the race would have not happened without the generosity of Kicking Horse Resort, Buff Canada, Live Out There, and other smaller sponsors.
We were privileged to have Alexandre Pellicier, 2008 Skimo World Champion, to come and inspect our race preparations on behalf of ISMF over the three days. He turned out to be a great person and despite jet-lag helped tremendously to make the race a success. He left us with many great tips and suggestions of how we can take Dogtooth Dash into a world cup level in the years to come.
On top of that, Alex did a fantastic job during a 45 min Q & A session at the awards party where he answered many questions in great detail. Thank you Alex and we all hope to see you back soon!
How it all went down
» Full results Dogtooth Dash 2015 RESULTS
Due to lots of new snow we had to change the Elite (long) course to be two laps of the Enduro (short) course, but the beauty of KHMR terrain is that technical ascents and descents were still prominent.
Total vertical for the Elite course came to 1570 m over four climbs and four descents – including two steep bootpacks and two big descents – and half that for Enduro racers.
As the race begins unusually on top of the mountain we had athletes run one lap around the Eagle’s Eye restaurant to spread them apart before the descent. First transition was chaotic as always, with 50+ people putting their skins on, but the top dogs already emerged out of it first – Philipp Schädler (GER) was leading Nick Elson, with Ben Parsons, Mike Foote (both USA) and couple of Canadian team members following behind.
During the first ascent, Phillip and Nick started to pull away while Kylee Ohler was creating a small gap on two ladies behind her. Blue skies and skinning on the ridge made many racers to look around as if they were on a powder ski tour deep in the mountains.
On the second climb, which was the longer one (little more than 500 m), Nick was leading Philipp into the bootpack transition but the positions switched as Nick struggled to hook skis to his pack. By this point, they had about 3 min gap on Ben Parsons who was being followed by Mike Foote further one minute behind. Kylee was extending her lead slowly on Michelle Roberts and Michela Adrian (USA) but they were all within about 2 min!
During the first climb of the second lap, Nick and Philipp were still glued together and by now had a sizable gap on Ben and the rest of the field. In the women’s race, Michelle appeared to lift her pace and I don’t think that among the 3 ladies – Kylee, Michelle, Michela – anyone of them was certain of how it would eventually play out!
On the second climb (the longer and technical one) of the second lap Philipp and Nick were going for the same strategy – to shake the other guy before they reached the bootpack that led right to the finish. However, on the very technical section Nick had a skin failure and Philipp took it by the horns, carving about 40 second lead. Nick dug desperately very deep but at the end the gap stood and Philipp won his third race in the last three weekends. Ben Parsons came in 3rd, with Mike Foote in 4th, then Travis Brown in 5th. Nick became the Canadian Champion.
The ladies battle was as equally exciting, however, more for 2nd and 3rd as Kylee pulled away on the last climb for a respectable win, thus, becoming the 2015 Canadian Skimo Champion. I don’t exactly know how it went down between Michela (2nd) and Michelle (3rd) on that last climb but at the end they were separated only by 9 seconds! Martha Burley came in couple of minutes behind them but still delivering a big performance given the fact she was out whole last winter due to sever knee injury.
Athletes on the Enduro course (one lap with two climbs) all appeared to have great time while pushing their limits! That was our aim when Eric and I designed this shorter course two years ago – to give participants a taste of real skimo racing instead of defaulting to a more challenging “cross country ski race”.
The women’s category was won by Jennifer Parsons, followed by Caroline Reid who is just recovering from a knee injury, and Karina Benavides. The men’s prize went to Joe Magajna in front of Pascal Hinni, and only 16-years old Riley Wolever!
With that overall 3rd place on the Enduro course, Riley Wolever became the 2015 Canadian Junior Skimo Champion with Kevin Hinni taking 2nd only 1 min behind, and Riley’s brother Brinton Wolever taking 3rd. All three guys are becoming regulars on the Candian skimo circuit and it will be very exciting to watch them progress in the years to come!
16 women and 6 under 20!
Something I really noticed while refreshing the skin tracks and cheering on was that we had more women and junior racers participating than I ever saw in Canada before! This is even more impressive since Melanie Bernier and Katarina Kuba were already in Europe preparing for the World Championships.
Overall, it is an exciting sign that skimo racing in Canada is finally growing beyond the unshaven, hardy men that dominated the scene few years ago… and maybe that’s what attracted the ladies to the sport 🙂