Wednesday, February 23, 2011

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!

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