With all the nat’l team guys in Europe I figured ‘d better win this one. It had only been a week since my very hard effort at the US Birky, but I’d babied my body as best I could within that week in preparation. In retrospect I think I was tired and burnt from being away at the Olympics for 3 weeks plus the travel. I’d never been so exhausted after a race and took so long to recover.
In any case, at the start line I did the usual check out the skis to see who would be competitive. It didn’t look too threatening. It was almost comical at the start as several dudes with heavy gear really charged up the first incline. I was redlining it and still wasn’t in the lead with my lighter gear. Finally, after about 400m they all died off and I was off to the races. After the first small climb and very short somewhat gnar mogully downhill there was a nice 1.5 km cat track downhill. I was planning on skating away from the pack and skating up the first incline before the climb up into the woods. I’d even scoped it out the day before. It’s kinda funny though that the only part of the course I checked out was the one I took the wrong turn on...duh. The course took a Y to the right, but my speed was so high I went blowing right by it. After awhile sensing something might not be right I looked back and saw no one behind me.....so I stopped....a big hi speed hockey stop....still no one there. Shoot!! I realized what I’d done. Now I had to skate ski up the downhill I’d just torn down. By the time I was back on course at least ½ the field were in front of me. So much for my blazing skate ski speed and confidence after last week’s Birky.
Climbing up the wooded trail was tough. There had been several freeze thaw cycles and in the morning the south facing track was quite icy. Those with big skis and big synthetic skins actually had an easier time. However, I kept hacking my way up and by the time I got to the top of the climb (almost an hour later), the snow had turned untransformed and I’d caught everyone but the top 2.
It was here that I did something right. Along the ridge top it was a gradual up, down and flat. I brought my very short skins....the well broken in ones, and had waxed them with a hi flouro wax. I also put a hi flouro wax on the tails of my ski. On this section of the trail and later in the race a 1.5 traverse to the final bowl, I really made some time. There were even some downhill sections where we kept our skins on....I flew.
After navigating Ymir bowl’s death cookies, we climbed up to the top on the other side of the valley. It was here that I saw 1st and 2nd place. Time to move!! I reeled in 2nd no problem, but the lead guy was pretty far up there. In the end I ran out of real estate. At the top of the mountain they said that "Spider Man" had 2 minutes on me. Spider Man!! I know him! I skied with him in Whitefish (he beat me).
At the finish there he was. 2 minutes ahead. I figured I’d lost at least 5-6 minutes on my wayward tour off course. He looked kinda sheepishly at me and said he’d yelled out to me when he saw me go awry, but to be honest I’m guessing the yell wasn’t too loud. He was getting the interview and picture taken for the local paper. They weren’t interested in 2nd place. I was a little ticked at myself for letting this one get away...but get this...
First place award was a nice pair of Dynafit Vertical bindings. 2nd place was a really nice Arcyterx pack. I’d secretly been hoping to win such a prize (the pack). I’d just purchased those very same bindings just the week before to put on the G3 Tonics I’d won from Backcountry magazine. Everything works out in the end!!