Monday, January 24, 2011

A bit of Whitefish Powder

This past weekend was a race I always look forward to; The Whitefish Whiteout. Whitefish, Montana is a really nice mountain town located seven and a half hours drive from Revelstoke! This is also where a few friends from the USA National Ski Mountaineering team call home, so this race is just a good excuse to go visit them! In addition, since we could not race last weekend in the Tikki Torch in Golden due to highway closure, I was getting pretty excited to race again!

Half asleep, we got on the road really early on Friday morning Reiner and myself in order to get to Whitefish early enough to go skiing. To our surprise, it started to snow really hard as soon as we got to town. The white fluffy stuff made me forget about our annoying but entertaining stop at the US border where we got pulled over and searched! Skis on, we checked out the race course which was slightly different then the previous years. After a couple of hours of recognition, we went back to town to catch up with friends and teammates and get ready for the race!

We woke up to a blue bird sky, mild weather, calm winds and about 15-20 cms of fresh fluffy snow… ideal conditions for a race…. Except for the fresh snow I guess. The race was delayed by an hour due to avalanche control so we had plenty of time to warm-up, hydrate and socialize. The race started at 10am going up the legendary Thoni Matt ski run. This climb is a 600m push of steep climbing with pretty much no break. The climb is so impressive that an award is given to the 1st racer to reach the summit (record time being 26:59 last year by Reiner Thoni). The conditions being powdery this year, the record was not broken but Reiner go to the top first once again!

Thoni Matt Hill Climb

The rest of the course was really nice but due to fresh snow, the tracks were not set and it was really technical and slippery skinning… we call that character building! It was really hard to get into a rhythm and also to keep the skins on…Reiner was telling me that at the front, him and Brandon French (US National leader) had a fun go at it, putting in the bootpack and breaking trail the whole way. As for us just behind, the wind was picking up by section leaving very little track. The race was not so much of a battle for the 2 leaders but just behind, we were fighting for 3rd place, myself, 2 other Americans and Brad, a new comer in the Canadian Ski mo scene. I think we all gave it all we got till then end!

Congrats to Brandon French (US) for his 1st place and Reiner Thoni (CAN) for the fast hill climb and 2nd place! Congrats also to Martha Burley from Fernier who we see more and more often at the ski races. Martha finished 3rd behind Katie French and myself! Thx Whitefish for another great event and a good time! We brought home the "bling bling" with great cash prizes (BIG CHECK) and a Silver Platter! Next stop will be the Sunshine 5000 in Banff on February 5th just before we all leave for the World Championships in Italy!

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