In their first start in the iconic Trofeo Mezzalama, a trio of North American ladies – Kylee Toth Ohler (CAN), Jessie Young and Sierra Anderson (both USA) – placed 6th and gained a lot of new experience from the very windy 2019 edition.
Here’s a short interview with Kylee to recap their experience.
Q: For all 3 of you, Mezzalama was a brand new experience. Did you like it?
I really enjoyed this race! It was definitely the most technical, challenging and fun ski mountaineering event I have completed.
It is truly a mountaineering race and a big undertaking. It challenges all of your skills – ascending, descending, glacier travel, ridge climbing – it certainly is not a race I would want to enter without training and preparation.
Q: How would you compare it to World Championships and Pierra Menta?
The Grande Course races are each unique and the Mezzalama has a very different feel than the Pierra Menta, being at higher altitudes and more technical.
I would definitely do both races again and the Grande Course style of true ski mountaineering rely appeals to me more than World Cup or World Championships style of racing.
Q: What was the biggest challenge for the whole team?
I would say the biggest challenge was the adverse weather. It was really cold and windy for half of the race and we had huge climbs and descents.
When we were at the bottom of the climb we were hot and sweating. Once we ascended above 3500 meters it was -20 or colder and extremely windy on the ridges. This made it challenging to stay warm. We wasted a lot of time trying to manage that.
Q: Now having the experience, what do you think is the most important aspect in preparing for such a big race?
I would take this race seriously in preparing for it.
You would need to put in a lot of training meters, many 2000m+ ski touring days, and be a very competent downhill skier – comfortable skiing double black runs at your local ski hill.
Not only is the skiing challenging for many descents but you have to descend roped up with your team mates!
This race is ideal for someone with a background of many years of ski mountaineer racing or true mountaineering. I would definitely not recommended for beginners even if they are very fit.