In recent year or two, a couple of non-profit skimo clubs have emerged throughout the US and so we have decided to interview the people behind them to find out what their mission and goals are.
Below, we are talking to Teague Holmes, a prominent racer himself, who represented all founders of the Summit Skimo Club in this interview.
» Website for Summit Skimo Club
What is Summit Skimo Club? Is it about skimo racing or ski mountaineering in general?
The Summit Skimo Club is a group of ski mountaineering racers from Summit County who wish to introduce, grow, and support ski mountaineering racing in Colorado and beyond.
How did you decide to create a skimo club?
We have enjoyed running around the mountains on super light easy equipment, competing in the races and just having so much fun with this sport that honestly we just want to share it! It’s different than using traditional North American standard heavy equipment and ‘skinning’ uphill or taking hours to ski one backcountry line. It’s fast, fluid and easy!
We all realized there were a few youth involved in Skimo racing so one of the primary motivators for the creation of the Summit Skimo club was to give youth an opportunity to try it out and be supported in their efforts if they choose to race.
When did you start your club and who are the founders?
Jon Lowe, Joe Howdyshell, Ram Mikulas and I with Pete Swenson as key catalyst, founded Summit SkiMo this past August (2014).
Who do you hope to attract?
We are trying to attract all ages in the community that are interested in human powered skiing. We have a race focus and we all know how racing builds fitness, skills and efficiency to better enjoy all types of human powered skiing. We are emphasizing youth involvement. We are trying to make it easy for folks to experience Skimo Racing by building a community, organizing various group skis/training sessions, providing coaching, race support, and partnering with our local ski shops – Mountain Outfitters of Breckenridge and Wilderness Sports of Dillon, and vendors like Scarpa / SkiTrab, Dynafit, Hagan, and Camp Equipment.
We see this as a community club of all ages pooling their collective knowledge, enthusiasm and resources to support each other now and as it grows down the road. The community will build summit skimo.
In which areas are you trying to reach out to people and pull them into skimo?
Folks that seem to be interested in Skimo Racing typically are already active outdoor athletes. Trail runners, mountain runners, triathletes, mountain bikers, climbers, Nordic skiers… I personally came from a combination of rock climber, left service based big mountain skiing competitor. I found Skimo racing combined my love of climbing mountains fast and light, with my passion for ripping down. What got me hooked was the easy accessibility to the backcountry that the light easy walking equipment opens up. It’s like you spend a little time Skimo racing and it’s free pass to run around up-and-down the mountains with ease. Total freedom.
Will you be organizing races, holding weekly training nights? What will be your activities?
Currently our primary events are weekly group skis. The crew also rolls to races together and we will eventually hold a race or two. Tuesday’s and Thursday’s are a high end workout group. Some faster racers really putting it to each other with intervals. It’s always better to suffer with friends right? Sound like folks enjoy how hard they can train with others out givin’r together! Tuesday is at Keystone and Thursdays suffering goes down in Breckenridge.
Sort of alternating Saturday and Sunday you’ll find more of an all-inclusive touring group. The group leaders focus on a variety of relatively safe terrain. A couple groups usually form and beginners can enjoy a relaxed pace and some helpful tips and tactics to make it easier and more fun.
We are developing a youth racing team. We are lucky to have a professional Nordic coach Joe Howdyshell, one of the founders. Some of the other founders and volunteers have experience coaching, teaching skiing and guiding. We also have coaching available for some folks trying to achieve their first Elk Mountain Grand Traverse finish.
How many members do you have so far?
We have 17 adult members, and 4 youth between the ages of 13 and 18. We have 8 coach/volunteers.
One component of the mission of the Summit Skimo Club is to create an avenue for youth to try Ski Mountaineering Racing. We will support any age that can fit into a SkiMo race boot! More USSMA races like Irwin and the Crested Butte races put on by Elk Mountain Events as well as The Wasatch Powderkeg and Others have a U23 and U18 category. We hope to help more young men and women get out to the races and partner with event organizers to accommodate the shorter courses better suited to youth involvement.
Is skimo popular among youth in your area? What are your plans to attract them more?
There are many youth in Summit County, Colorado that get involved in winter sports with their parents and community enthusiasm. We have a few local race series and a classic Bike-Ski called The Imperial Challenge. Many kids get their start with various outdoor winter sports and racing with the the High School Nordic Team or in Alpine racing with Team Summit as well as a few Freeride/Freestyle teams.
Our hope is kids can combine their skills and love of skiing developed in these fantastic teams and enjoy the life long sport and challenge of Ski Mountaineering Racing. We don’t want to pull kids from these well established teams but to give kids an opportunity to explore another exciting aspect of the winter sport we all love!
How do you deal with safety for group training sessions?
Our Group Training sessions are at ski areas and in generally ‘safe’ backcountry areas. As much as we all know that important avalanche education and Backcountry skills are essential the Summit Skimo Club is not currently in the business of teaching these skills. We do have resources, members and coaches with training and always recommend taking classes from the American Avalanche Institute or AIARE before venturing into Avalanche Terrain.
How much is the membership and what will it get you?
Membership is $50 and it provides:
- Group tours on weekends
- Adult workout/training groups on Tuesday and Thursdays
- Race support
- Discounts on the best Skimo equipment from Scarpa/Ski Trab, Dynafit, Camp Equipment and much more from Mountain Outfitters Breckenridge and Wilderness Sports Dillon.
We thank Teague for his time and wish the whole club all the best with their goals and activities!