This past weekend was the first big racing weekend of the season with events happening all over North America and several National Championships in Europe.
On Thursday, part of the huge Outdoor Retailer event in Salt Lake City (stay tuned for new gear news tomorrow), there was a skimo demo event held at Solitude Resort, Utah. Racers completed four laps for a total ascent of just over 700m. Tom Goth pulled away early and held on for the win. Marshall Thompson and Pete Swenson rounded out the podium. The women’s event looks to have been won by Janelle Smiley with Jax Koudele on the podium (though we are waiting for result confirmation!).
Western US racers will reconvene next at Sunlight Resort for the Heathen Challenge.
CanadaIn Canada, the Western contingent met at Castle Mountain Resort in Alberta for a double header. Saturday was the first ever sprint event held in Canada. Despite a relatively small turnout, the event was fast paced and featured a fun course. Racers had three rounds of sprinting and the Men’s event was won by Eric Carter (SkinTrack.com) with Travis Brown and Matt Reid rounding out the podium. With just three women racing, the ladies had a great chance to practice sprinting against each other. In the finals, Mel Bernier won handily with Kylee Ohler putting on a good fight to keep Bernier honest, with Michell Roberts completing the podium.
Sunday’s individual event featured two big climbs covering 1500m of vertical ascent. The race began with a very technical skin track to the very top of the resort where it followed a ridge that became more and more exposed to blasting winds as the race continued. The first descent of an in-bounds 700m chute was in good shape and made for a fast descent. The second climb began on groomed runs before turning out of the resort boundary and up a steep cat skiing road that made skinning very difficult. However, we were rewarded with an excellent descent down untouched cat ski terrain in nice powder to the finish line.
Peter Knight took off hard from the gun but was quickly stripped of the lead by Nick Elson, clearly on a mission for redemption after falling in a semi-final heat and missing the chance for a top spot in the sprint. Elson took off up the technical skinning section and showed his skinning abilities, holding his lead over Eric Carter and Knight for the remainder of the race. The women mixed in with the men and spread out a bit, but kept the same finish order as the previous day – Bernier, Ohler, Roberts.
» 2016 Castle Mountain complete race results (PDF)
Western Canadian racers will be heading next weekend south of the border to race the Whitefish Whiteout before returning to the southern Canadian Rockies for the new Lizard Skinner event in Fernie, BC.
Meanwhile, at Mont Tremblant, the quickly growing Skimo East series contingent met for their first race of the season. Athletes had two hours to complete as many laps as possible of the course. Each loop featured 500m vertical gain and two booters with the leaders completing three. George Visser was challenged by newcomer Joel Desgreniers with Patrick Lussier rounding out the podium. Lyne Bessette the only female to complete three laps with Carmen Labbe and Isabelle Marcotte finishing 2nd and 3rd with two laps each. The next Skimo East event will be at Berkshire East on Jan 23.
While much of Europe has been in a drought for snow, several countries held their national championship events. The usual suspects took the majority of the top places though a surprise did come with Emelie Forsberg beating Latetia Roux in the French Champs at Maribel.
- Switzerland: Martin Anthamatten & Jennifer Flichter
- Austria: Christian Hoffman & ?
- France: William Bon Mardion & Laetitia Roux
- Italy: Michelle Boscacci & Roberta Pedranzini
Racers are now making their way towards Andorra for the first World Cup of the season: