Sunday, March 22, 2009

Ski Mountaineering US Championships Jackson Hole

Saturday I toed up to the starting line at the 9th US Ski Mountaineering Championships at Jackson Hole, as I looked around all I could think is this is going to hurt. A few weeks prior to the race an announcement showed up on the USSMA homepage; it was a very detailed explanation about how the US Ski Mountaineering Team will be selected for the 2010 World Championships in Andorra. It continued to explain that the top two finishers at the 2009 US championships would automatically be given the first two spots for the team.... As I was waiting for gear check early on Saturday morning I overheard a very well known racer say to another "this may be the deepest field of US rando racers I have ever seen gathered at one race".
Now gathered at the starting line it became clear that there were a lot of guys that really wanted to represent the US next year, more than half of the Race class had on race suits and full meal deal race gear. Granted I had on a second hand race suit and pretty light rando gear, but so many of these guys had on new race suits ( or at least they looked new) and the lightest gear made. Once the start happened it was off to the races, the lead pack went off running, and unlike at other races that I have been to they/we kept running, as a matter of fact we ran until I thought my lungs were going to blow right out of my chest, and as soon as I thought I would pop completely everyone seemed to drop down a gear, allowing me to keep hanging on. I continued to red line, which felt good in a painful masochistic kind of way. Although the lead pack started to drop me there were a couple of other stragglers as well. We hit the top of the first climb just shortly after the leaders which made me feel very good at least to this point.
I passed one person on the first descent, but he quickly passed me after the transition up the second climb. This second climb, for me was once again the low point in the race. I ended up alone not right behind anyone or right ahead of anyone for that matter. This always seems like a difficult place to be, I imagine that the guys ahead of me are suffering just like I am and hopefully the people behind me are suffering more, but you don't know because it's just you. The next descent went smooth and I paid careful attention not too miss the corner like I did last year. The first boot was up next and as I transitioned I looked up to see the ten or so racers that were ahead of me... all of them. This was an awesome feeling for me, I wasn't as far off as I thought, this put some extra uupmh in my steps as I hurried to gain ground on them. I closed in on Zahan, and Scott (I think it was Scott) but lost them as I struggled in the transition and across the up and downs of the traverse across Pepi's bench. I floundered quite a bit during this part and lost the ground that I had made up. On the boot up Corbet's I put me had down, got cozy in the pain cave and pushed to gain what I had lost, upon topping out I threw down the quickest transition of my life and decided to lay it all out there on the big descent. On tired legs I pushed as fast as I could to gain or at least see somebody ahead of me , near the bottom of the Hobacks I passed one person, but as I started to skate up the last slight uphill under the Union Pacific chair I realized that laying it all out there had blown me up sufficiently to have no juice for the skate and the racer I passed repassed me just before the crest over the top, he gained a few seconds on me that I would not regain.
I finished in 12th (I think) and I was totally stoked on my race. Everything went well, I ate well, I drank well, and enjoyed my time pushing deep into the cave. I don't think I could have done any better given the small amount of specific training that I have done this year. To top it off my time was 5 minutes faster than last week at the 'Keg with an additional 1200' vertical. Now as I kick off spring break is when the running training is about to get serious, that I am plan on skiing every day during this next week... Hooray for spring break!!!


  1. Nice job - makes my little snowshoe race seem like a walk in the park. Enjoy your down time, see you shortly.