I ended my race season with an outstanding weekend in late March up in lake louise with Bria. Saturday was a sprint race (which I had never done before) and then a typical individual race on Sunday.
|the view across the valley from the ski hill. mt temple on the left, lake louise itself just right of center (photo: bria)|
I had a rough go in the sprint race, throwing down a mediocre time in the seeding due to a poor skin-to-bootpack transition and then somehow clicking into my R heelpiece on the final switchback and having to stop, step out and step back into the toe before continuing. After the seeding, the format was 4 person heats with the top 2 advancing til down to just 4 people for finals. In my first heat of 4 racers, I found myself beside Peter Knight, one of Canada’s fastest sprinters so I knew I had to take second to advance.
|sprint race - i'm on the R-hand boot pack (photo: bria)|
Fast forward to the top of the climb and I was transitioning with another guy, well behind Peter. I was confident I could out-transition and out-ski him to advance but for some reason, my R boot would not lock into my heel piece so I dropped in to the gated descent still trying to stomp my heel in (probably a rule violation). This allowed him to pass me around the first gate before I tried to pass him around the second gate. Then this happened.
|going down in spectacular fashion (photo: bria)|
My boot may or may not have been locked into my heel piece as I blew up, losing a ski in the process. I sat up dazed, wiped the snow from my face and glasses before continuing down around the gates on a single ski. I had to continue another ~500 vertical feet down the hill to find my ski which had fortunately come to a stop. I was disqualified for finishing without all the gear I started with but stuck around to watch the remaining heats. I was disappointed with my showing but not too upset, since I cared far more about the individual race the following day. After a few hours of riding the lifts and skiing with Bria (a rare treat for me), we swung by the swanky Chateau and Lake Louise proper, before retiring to the awesome and affordable lake louise hostel for the night.
|lake louise proper. picture certainly doesn't do it justice (photo: bria)|
I was up early the next morning, for the pre-race meeting and a chilly chairlift ride to the mid-mountain start. After a quick warm-up, we were off, at a painfully fast pace off the line, til I scaled back on the throttle to a sustainable pace. I was a little taken back and disheartened to spent the bulk of the first climb in 15th place. I made a move near the top of the climb and passed 4 guys in quick succession before coming into the transition. A quick skin rip and some aggressive skiing down the first run allowed me to pass another 2 racers. I transitioned with a chase group of about 5 people and after two quick switchbacks, I managed to pass two of them in the ensuing skin-to-bootpack transition to move into a more reasonable 7th place. I followed Kylee and Joel up the long bootpack before skiing a longer second run down into the basin below the resort’s back bowls. I came into the transition a few seconds behind Joel but managed to out transition him and start up the third climb in pursuit of Kylee (canada’s fastest female racer). The third climb back up to the ridge went well but I was unable to close the gap to Kylee.
|view from approximately the top of the first climb|
The third run was again packed powder down to the basin below the bowls to the transition area. I transitioned with Kylee and gave her my spare gel when she asked for one, saying she had dropped one earlier. I past her a few meters out of the transition to move into 5th but well behind the top 4 of Rob, Joel D, Peter and Travis who I could see in a super close battle on the technical switchbacks further up the climb. I maintained position ahead of Kylee on this climb and from the ridge, ripped skins and began the LONG descent down to Temple Lodge. At one point after skiing what felt like several minutes, I stopped to wait for Kylee to make sure I was still on the right track. Fortunately I was and I continued bombing down the wide cat track, feeling a little silly in a full tuck cruising past resort skiers.
|the incredible log cabin-style lodge (photo: bria)|
Once at the Temple Lodge transition, it was fun to see Bria cheering as I threw on skins for the final climb and started up a few seconds ahead of Kylee. This climb ended up being quite a bit longer than I was expecting but I built a small gap on Kylee and eventually crested the top of the climb, and left the transition as she was arriving. The ensuing final run was predominately bombing down a groomer followed by a LONG and flat skate/tuck to the finish. I crossed the line in 5th place, several minutes behind four of Canada’s finest, who had had what sounded like an exciting, down-to-the-wire finish. I was very happy with my result, considering how sluggish I had felt on the initial climb and my poor performance the prior day. Full sprint and individual results for those who care. The remainder of the day was spent enjoying the bluebird spring conditions with Bria on the lifts and poutine in the lodge before embarking on the LONG drive home.
|at the finish (the 2 guys behind me were amongst several racers who accidentally skipped the fourth climb) (photo: bria)|
Rose: a gorgeous day of skiing on day 2, both during the race and afterwards
Thorn: jumping jacks in Arlee at midnight on the drive home to help stay awake
Bud: although it sounds brutal, I’m intrigued about trying to put together solid performances on consecutive race days at future multi-day races (3 days at powder keg next year..)
Thoughts: this was hands down the most BEAUTIFUL venue in which I have ever raced. This race is an awesome value at $100 canadian for 2 races and 2 days of lift tickets. If doing this individual course, make sure to wax your skis beforehand for the long/flat 4th and 5th descents