Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Teams race: Race day!

Man! Do I feel nervous! Gotta make sure I enjoy this! As the starting gun goes off my heart rate zooms. I know I've gotta give 'er only enough that I can sustain for at least 3 hours. Even still my Polar hr monitor says I'm working hard and it FEELS like it too.

Quickly into the race is a very long bootpack. On go the skis to the backpack and we trudge away. From bootpack to more skinning the pace continues at a high level and though we're in the back third of the field, several teams begin falling off. Even some USA and Canada teams.

When we finally get to the top of the 2nd big climb, you can see how much snow fell up here in the alpine. It's over 70cm's. On our tiny race boards it's quite a challenge to get down. As a team we do alright. Not losing any places as I fall several times and StanO almost wrenches his knee. We promise we'll go a bit more carefully on the big descent.

For the final big climb I start to cramp a bit so we decide to do some towing. It's amazing that even though there wasn't a lot of drag on the line, my hr drops 15-20 beats as Stan mules me up the hill.

Now came the disaster. My legs were so cooked they really couldn't negotiate the deep pow and steep hill. I must have fell a dozen times. The vert would be similar to more than Whistler top to bottom and then some. We probably lost 15 minutes and dropped a few places (including the other Canada team).

When we finally made It to the valley floor it was one of the toughest slogs ever. I had several cramps going in my legs. It was such a relief to finally be over. Not the greatest result, but a victory for sure in perseverance!!

Teams race: pre-race

Team Canada 3 is StanO and SteveO. In the day leading up to our race StanO keeps bringing up important race strategy info. We really feel like a team within a team especially as we forego the usual free lunch up in Claut opting instead to avoid the drive up and various rigimoral associated with it and pay to eat in our hotel. The meal allows us to go over more race strategy.

Earlier that day we'd practiced towing. A strategy that many teams use especially if one person starts to fade or is a weaker skier. Using climbing harnesses and a mostly static line we give 'er a go with each taking turns as the mule.
The teams race is usually the most epic of the championships and this one looks like a doozy!! Three MAJOR climbs followed with a 1350m descent to the valley floor and a tour over shoveled snow into the finish line right in the village square.

I've been taking melatonin to aid my changed sleep pattern. ..hopefully it kicks in. I'm going to need it!!

Lets Get Vertical...Vertical...I wanna get Vertical

Ok, maybe the old Olivia Newton John song is before your time, but in any case getting vertical is one of my favorite things. its unusual then that I ve never done a vertical race before. In one of these pain fests you only go up. Usually from the bottom of a valley, village or ski area to the very top. This was the case yesterday. The venue was the ski area, Piacavella. The vert was "only" 540 meters. All up, no down, no flats, no rest, just hammer, hammer hammer.

I was still a bit tired from the epic teams race from 2 days earlier, but deb reminded me via blackberry text message that I love vertical. I kept telling myself that.

Just before the race began my heart rate monitor decided to go on the fritz. Too bad, cuz I would like to know how hi my old ticker can get...and maybe prevent going out too hard and blowing. Oh well, just take it as it comes.

As the race began I conceeded probably more than I should have, but in the end I truly felt like I had paced myself almost perfectly and gave all I could (always a good feeling). My only regret was that during the boot pack section (where you take your skis off and quickly lash them to your pack) I took an insanely long time to get them onto the pack before ascending. In doing so i lost a place to a Japanees fellow and someone else. I passed them back, but had to work for it. It is especially distressing because I had practiced this art. But being here I see how important fast transitions are and most accomplish the ski to pack art leaving the pole straps on. I thought i could do so without practice.....wrong. I got so tangled up the course marshalls took such pity on me that they helped me out and untangle myself. In this sport, outside help is strictly verboten so if a course marshall helps you, the ones suppossedly enforcing these rules, then you must be pretty hapless. in any case I probably lost a good half minute.

At least I did not get -"chicked" by our super stud female, Melanie. Who, by the way recorded North Americas best ever 6th place today in the sprint.

Back to the vert race. It was so foggy at the top that even though i was totally in the alpine and only a few hundred feet from the finish, I could not see anything more than 20 feet in front of me. Having not pre skied this portion of the course I had no idea where I was. At one point I asked someone, "how far?"...their response, "not far". Boy that really helped.

I could hear the announcers and crowd, and they were loud, so I knew I was close, but could see absolutely nothing. Finally the blow up arch came into view. Good thing too cuz the Japan dude was coming hard.

As painful as this sounds, it was kinda cool. Would like to do some more of these races, but I dont think we have any true vert races in N. America. Oh well there are always time trials!


Well, here I am, finally at the skimo world competition, arriving early enough to quell the demons of jet lag and a confused digestive system. However it was a little strange as there was not snow to be seen anywhere, not even in the higher altitudes. On Wednesday it rained hard all day then turned to snow late in the afternoon. By morning there was plenty of the white stuff to allay any fears.

The next few days were spent skiing on some of the wettest snow I've ever seen. This must be like Vancouver snow.

At this point I've got a couple of days to ready my system. In the meantime I'm going to enjoy soaking up some post storm rays and catch up on my vitamin D deficiency!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Sunshine Race

Been a long time.....

Been a long time....not since I've rock and rolled (Led Zepplin), but made a post.

Today we had the Sunshine 5000. So named for the vertical feet. It was a beautiful clear, cold (-8C) day. The family came out to watch and all in all it was a great day!

I was feeling a little pressure cuz in just over a week I'll be heading over to Italy for Skimo World Champs. I felt like I needed to show I was worthy of going. As it was I finished 8th. Last among the team guys going, but not too far out of the hunt. In this I felt I accomplished a bit of my goals on the day.

Not sure why, but just didn't feel energized. I went out hard, backed off a bit to try to race smart. Tried to ski a perfect race (that was my mantra in my head). Fast transitions, no wipe outs, even pace. For the most part I did these. First race ever I didn't fall on any downhills. Maybe could have skied a couple a bit more aggressively, but mostly did ok.

With a lot of new and blowing snow I elected for full length skins for the 2 major climbs. I had great kick and could relax on the steep switchbacks. Unfortunately, both of them had longish lead ups and my glide was pretty slow on these parts. Deb even noticed on one of them when I went by..."your skis seemed slow". I think I'll replace the full lengthers with my new Pomocas once they get broken in. I bought them a little wider (65mm) for full coverage under foot.

So....hopefully I'll be logging in a bit more regularly as my adventure heats to Italy. Man! What a privilege. Representing your country in International competitions.

I'll keep ya posted .