Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Races report for the Vertical and the Sprint

The least we can say is that it’s been a rather emotional last couple of days here in Italy. Yesterday was the vertical race, which was pretty short. The course started fairly flat, with some steep kicks and a short steep bootpack then back to ascending on skis for a total of 540m of vertical gain. For a similar event, we were estimating the times to be more or less 30 minutes. Unfortunately we got misinformed on the start time for men and women. So I was hanging out, relaxing an getting ready to warm up for a 11:30am race start when I got told that we were actually starting at 11:00am…. It was then 10:35. It was also bad for all the men racing at the event since they all warmed up too early. I had just about 15 minutes to warm up the muscle and deal with the mental frustrations and there I was at the start line trying to get ready… not a good was to start a race I sure tell you! I guess I learnt that you can control some parts of the racing scene but

there are still parts you can’t control… and those are exterior factors.

I had a good start being with the lead for a little while and pushing hard but as expected, I started to fall apart a bit.

Our Canadians altogether still did an amazing job. Congrats to Reiner Thoni for his 34th place and Andrew McNab for his 41st place. Also congrats to Stano for his 53rd place and Steve for his 61st place. I still came in 15th place as Julie finished in 23rd. Great work Canadians. Even if a bit disappointed and upset about the early event, I calmed myself down and got some great rest.

Picture by Alex Wigley

Today was a new day and was time to race in a new race in the ski mountaineering list of event. The sprint is a “ give it all type of race”. The course start in a flatter section, then gets steeper, move you onto technical switch backs then you have to transition to a short bootpack. Put your skis back on for more skinning, then transition to ski down GS style then finish with a skating part. Then whole thing covers 100m of vertical gain and takes between 3-5 minutes. No need to say that this is really exciting t watch and event more to race. We started off with the qualifiers where each racers goes every 30 seconds. On the ladies side, the 12 first moved on to semi finals and on the gent side, 30 moved on to quarter. Then from there the heat of 6 racers start. This is where it becomes interesting!

Congrats to Andrew McNab for almost making the quarter finals and to Luke Nelson from the States. Congrats also to Reiner, James and Alex for a solid race. You guys looked strong out there. Congrats also to Julie for a great effort. This race is highly technical as you can imagine and there is no room for mistakes. As for myself, I moved on from the qualifier in 12th place. Then I finished 3rd in the semi final heat. I then ended up in final with a really strong line up of really experienced racers…the world champs. The pressure was on and I was a bit nervous. I had a good start and was 2nd after the first part of the course but then I started to slide a bit in the switchbacks and lost some time there. I managed to finish 6th today which I am pretty happy about. Experience will help!

Now is time to recover for the next and really important event: The individual Race tomorrow!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

World Champ team Race report

We woke up to cloudy sky this morning in Claut. We have been blessed with amazing weather so far to do course inspections. After the sprint race has been moved from yesterday to this coming Wednesday, we had an additional day to get things ready and organized. Today was then the first event of 5 in the World Championships with the pairs race. Our country was well represented with 3 men team and one women team. The race started at low elevation just pass the town of Claut. We had a short ascent right off the start followed by a bootpack in the forest (on about 5 cm of snow….) then a short descent in a bobsled type trail and off we were… we had 2 long ascents to complete with a bootpack in each one of them. The descents were quite something with a mix of moguls, ice and powder. To add to the difficulty level, it was a complete whiteout at the top so it was quite hard to navigate. The longest and 3rd descent took us down to the start where we were far from being done yet. We had a cross a bridge skis in hand and run for a while then skate a flat section. Climb in the trees again (where we executed kick turns on grass and leaves. Then down again, a bootpack to the road then down again and up to the finish line… It was the race that would never end!!! The overall race was 2200m of positive gain and the top teams completed the course in 2:30 (M) and 3:00 (W).

Congratulations to all the racers and specially the Canadians.

Reiner and Andrew finished with an amazing time in 16th place. Congrats to Steve and Stano and Alex and James. As for Julie and myself, we took the 9th place. We had a great time playing in the trees, in the leaves and in the rocks…. Oh and of course in the snow!!!!

Next race is the vertical on Tuesday… we have a day to rest and recharge the batteries before the rest of the events.

Full results at

And pictures to come!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Europia so far

So here we are only a day before the start of the World Championships here in Italy. We have been here for just over a week now to give a chance to our body to adjust to time change but most importantly to diet-change. We left Calgary on the 8th of February and flew to Venice. After about 24 hours of traveling, we found a nice “Aubergo” downtown Venice were we absolutely crashed. A good night of rest later, we woke up early to go for a run along the canals of Venice, one of the nicest run we ever had actually. It was just spectacular. We then made our way to pick up our traveling partner in Landeck Austria.

We spent 3 wonderful days in Reiner’s family in Winnebach in the valley of OtZtal, on a hotel/farm getting immerse in the Austrian Culture.

We made the most of the Austrian snow. On the first ski day, we climbed up the valley just behind the hotel towards a nice summer hut and kept going up the valley and ended up at the top of a 500m long 45 degrees couloir; which we skied with our race skies of course. It was a great warm up run on our first ski day in Europe!

The following day was more training oriented. We skied up a nice mellow trail towards a nice alpine Café called the Nissl Hut, had a coffee break, skied down and climbed up to an other alpine hut (Amberger Hut) where we had amazing cappuccinos and shared traditional food! We also scoped the itinerary for the following day.

On day 3, we woke up to beautiful sunny skies. We climbed back to the Amberger Hut, had an espresso and then undertook the climb up the highest peak of the area, the SchranKroger 3498m. It was amazing! Back down the glacier, we had to stop at the hut once again and get a last great meal before heading back to the hotel. Then, we took the road back to Landeck to have a last minute vertical race against the local Search and Rescue team and drove back to a little town in Italy called Belluno.

Now, the pre-race shopping is done, we are quasi rested and definitively carb loading… I think it is fair to say that we are ready to race! We could definitively hope for more snow as things here are not really covered so racing should be really interesting. Please some some energy our way as we have a week long filled of event coming up!

video of the Ridge Walk up on the SchranKroger to come... Internet is hard to access here!!!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Sunshine 5000 Race Report

The Sunshine 5000 is the oldest race in our Canadian Circuit. For the 7th year, the resort has been hosting a great event, which usually draws the biggest crowd to the Canadian Ski mo scene. With around 30 racers, this year, the event was a success. With great snow, mild weather and a group of great racer and organizers, nothing could really go wrong!

We traveled mid-day friday and made it through just before highway closure due to heavy snowfall between Revelstoke and Golden… We got to Sunshine village in one piece happy to check in at the Sunshine Mountain Lodge (thx to the Resort for great rate)! Sunshine Village has been getting really good snow coverage this year and we were all pleased to see that this year, we would be able to ski the steeper part of the course without being scared for our carbon skis!!! Speaking of carbon skis, it is now really nice to see how much the gear has evolved with the years. At the start line, there was half the crowd with light gear and 6 with full carbon boots. I am so thrilled to see that the sport is growing in our country!!!!

Saturday morning, the weather was just perfect for a race. We gathered at the start line at mid-station just after 9am. The start of this race is always quite interesting since it is relatively flat for an extended period of time and it takes a while for people to really space out. The course was the same as last year with the exception of the Delirium Dive, which has been closed all season due to very low snow coverage.

Reiner took the lead of the race pretty quickly followed by Andrew McNab (2nd) (Great work sweet heart!). Just behind were James Minifie (3rd), Alex Wigley (4th), Ian Gale and Stano Faban, all pretty close one to the other. On my side, I was just behind Stano! I tried very hard to catch up to the 4 guys ahead but it just did not happen that day!

I think it is fair to say that everyone had a great race and we are now building up steam for our big events next month: the World Championships in Claut Italy.

Congrats to Julie Matteau (2nd), Billie Velisek (3rd) and Martha Burley (4th) on the ladies side. Here are the results and a few pictures after the race!

To follow events in Italy, you can check the following link: