After missing the bridger race last year, I was excited to return this year. From what I had gathered they were having a good winter and it’s one of the best race courses I’ve done. I had a perfect execution of my pre-race plan and a second place finish. Read on for a full recap.
|at the finish with brian in close pursuit|
I was slow off the line in the le mans start (fiddling with leashes as the race organizers insisted), but pushed the first climb HARD to quickly move up into 5th place. I passed several rec racers on the ridge bootpack and maintained 5th position to the top of hidden gully. I arrived moments after 2nd and 3rd place had departed, exactly as I had hoped for. The plan was to then use the downhills and steep technical climbs 2-4 to make moves up into second place, as I knew Foote would be untouchable off the front.
I had a good transition and skied hidden aggressively to arrive at the next transition with Brian, who was 6th to the top of hidden but skied it recklessly fast to also pass alan, sam atkins and another unknown racer from Bozeman. I had a quick ski to bootpack transition and was surprised to have already moved into second place as I started up the booter with brian, alan and a third racer in close pursuit. I employed old wall to wall skins for the super steep climbs 2-4 but still found myself slipping, sidestepping and clawing my way up ridiculously steep sections. I pushed hard on climbs 2 and 3 and eased back a bit on the downhills, making sure not to crash and be passed. On the fourth climb to the ridge, I could see Brian had dropped the others and was still within striking distance if I made a mistake. By the time I ripped skins near the top of slushman’s lift, I seemed to have a comfortable gap to brian as I skied the wind rollers down the ridge to the final bootpack. Brian seemed to have really dropped the hammer as I was surprised to see him arrive at the final transition as I was dropping in for the final descent.
I was horrified to feel some cramping in my right hip flexor as I tried to ski as fast as I could, worried that brian would catch me. At the bottom of the run and the first of two little uphill skates, I felt my hip flexor cramping worsen and with brian moments behind, I was sure he was going to cruise by me. I somehow stayed ahead on the first skate section and then furiously poled along the cat track, thankful to have waxed my skis a few days prior. On the final uphill skate to the finish, I didn’t dare look back to see how close brian was, I just franticly skated as best my cramping hip would allow, hopeful I could hold him off. Thanksfully I did by 23 seconds although at the time it felt much closer than that.
|bringing home the bacon|
Overall I had a blast and was stoked on how well I was able to execute my race strategy. Thanks to brian for the exciting battle near the end and props to Foote for the commanding win. Full results here. I rounded out the day with some skiing with bria til awards and then some cragging in hyalite the next day before heading home.
Rose: perfect execution of my race strategy
Thorn: cramping hip flexor on final descent and skates and sense of despair of brian blowing past me
Bud: a great start to my racing season. I’m excited for more.
|neither Bria nor I are good at ice climbing but we had fun visiting hyalite for our first time|
Thoughts: the skin tracks at this race are ridiculously steep, a notion that the race organizers seemed to be proud of at the pre-race meeting. I recommend cutting down an old pair of skins to wall-to-wall size for your race skis. useful not only for this race but also when using race skis in the backcountry. The race organizers do a great job putting on this event and the included hot lunch at the finish, lift ticket, beer coupon, generous podium prizes and large raffle make it an excellent value. Highly recommended.