December 25, 2012

Skimo/Rando Racing in the Wasatch

While a newbie to the sport of ski mountaineer racing I have come to appreciate what a great sport it is. I have only done a few events, two races on heavy metal-- one being the Powderkeg and two on light gear. While I have skied  and climbed in the mountains most of my life, the combination of the two disciplines is special. I thank Jared for helping me see the light. The past week or so there have been a couple Wasatch Citizen SKIMO races that brought out a great group of folks. I wanted to give my simple perspective on my experiences of these past two events and what I have learned. Andy Dorais along with some other key folks work very hard to assess conditions and set courses that are manageable and safe for all abilities regardless of equipment styles. First of all THANK YOU ANDY FOR YOUR EFFORTS TO BRING US ALL TOGETHER.

Tuesday's Skimo race (Dec 18th)- First event for me using lightweight gear. They always say and I have found that you learn far more in events where you struggle miserably. This was the case on this event. The group took off like a pack of deer being hunted by a desperate group of men in orange. Tom and Andy cruised off the line (apparently like always) and this was my first mistake.  I should have gone at my own pace. I jumped on their backs until we reached the first switch back. Here's my second mistake. As I went to kick turn I slid back about 3 feet (Bart G. got a front row seat). The same happened on nearly all the steep switchbacks during the whole race. Why? I was borrowing the SKIMO Yoda's skins (guess who that is?) because I was dealing with some glue issues on my other ones. He was gracious enough to let me. Well, Yoda likes his skins to be cut ultra short in length and being the SKIMO master that he is, he can skin up just about anything. Me on the other hand, a young (really actually old in age) padowan racing skin guy failed miserable. I am new to skinning on race skins and simply put, I need more practice. Before I knew it all I could see was spandex in front of me in a line of trailing headlamps. Then came the transitions. Mistake number 3. I need to learn how to transition fluidly and patiently.  I'm working on it. The race couldn't end quick enough for me. At the conclusion of the fourth lap I hung my head low, licked my wounds and headed home. It was a great course though!

Christmas Eve Race (Dec 24th)- Andy, Tom (he also won the race) and others (thank you) set a longer course which covered about 3,000 feet of elevation gain over three progressively shorter laps on Great Western. It was a beautiful morning, snowing at the first part and the course was magnificent. Everyone was cheery for the holiday season. As I had tried to work on some of my failures on the last race, the event went a bit smoother. Rather than spaz out at the beginning I went at my own pace. My skin glue issue was resolved (I only have one race set) and I was back to a longer, full length race skin. I have a long way to go before I can skin like the Yoda. It will likely never happen. At the top of Great Western Tom was in front of me and gaining real estate fast.  I topped out behind him with Nick and Tim nipping at my heels. They did this the whole race.  By the time I transitioned these boys were already transitioning. On down some great powder we went. Nearing the top of the second lap, Tom was already long gone. I could see him way up ahead and there was no chance I could reel him in. The third lap was shorter and I could see Tom through the trees skiing down as I was nearing the top. My transitions continued to be sloppy (perhaps I can blame it on my leather work gloves, or my baggy jogging pants-- but probably not). As I reached the bottom, there were two figures standing there. Tom standing with his cheerleader and sweetheart, already with a big coat on and a smile. Probably already had a sandwich. Tom is amazing. Tim and Nick then came in along with Eric, Courtney and other folks. It was so much fun to talk with Nick and Tim while we (I) frantically transitioned. They are wonderful. I was contending with a super stoke factor in Tim as this was his first day on his lightweight set up (Hagan skis) and he was loving it. Family traditions were on my watch so immediately following the race I cruised home to be with my wife and kids. It was a fun morning.

I love my Hagan skis, La Sportiva RSR bindings and of course my TLTs. 

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