Wednesday, March 9, 2011

1St World Cup Experience

The last Sunday was the 4th edition of the Marmotta Trophy in Martell Italy and for the first time, the event was part of the World Cup Series. It sure was a beautiful day out there, ideal for a race actually.We woke up really early in order to get ready for our 1st World Cup event. As the sun was slowly rising over the impressive peaks of Martell, we made our way up the narrow and twisty road to get to the end of the valley where the start/finish area, which was actually near Hotel Paradiso, an abandon establishment from the 1900’s. There was different categories forthe event. The ISMF (World Cup) women, junior and cadets were the first to ski the course with a challenging 1362m of positive gain, followed 30 minutes later by the ISMF senior men. Then all the other athletes (from different European Ski Associations) lined up at the start only 5 minutes after the ISMF athletes.The course was really fun, one of the nicest events we raced in I would say. The first ascent was steady through the trees for it’s first section but was quickly opening up to

great alpine bowls since we started at 1770m of elevation. The climb brought us up 500m higher where we transitioned for our first descent down a nice wide gully feature. Then skins back on for about 100m and bootpack with fix rope for about 200m. The rest of the 450m climb was done on icy steep switchbacks to finish on a nice knoll under the sun. A quick ski down a rocky corridor brought us to our 3rd transition where we traversed a flatter meadow section. This is where the men took a different route to add close to 400m of climbing to their course… looking up at the terrain, they had to climb at least 40 switchbacks in order to get to the top and then ski down a narrow passage through the rocks, contour just above the Marteller Hutte where we previously stayed and gain the junction to come back on the women course. From there, a bit of technical skinning and some kick glide traversing brought the athletes to the 2nd boot pack up a nice long couloir. We thought at first that crampons would be required for this section but at our greatest surprise, they were not necessary. From the top, a quick skin brought us to the highest section of the race just below 3000m of elevation. It was then skins off for an amazing 815m of descent. The first section of descent was fairly flat and somewhat bumpy but the middle

section was where the fun was! We had to ski as fast as we could down a narrow couloir to end up in an open meadow, back down in the trees for some fast out of control turns and then, to add to the race, we had to put our skins back on for an additional 15m of sprinting to the finish line.On the men side, Reiner had a great performance taking the 18th place followed minutes later by Andrew who took the 24th place. James also had a solid race taking the 26th place. The race went well on my side even if affected a bit by the elevation and the end of a sinus flue. I still had a great time. It was an amazing experience to line up once again with the fastest women in the sport. It truly is motivating and inspiring to ski along them. I took the 9th place just behind Veronica from Austria… we battled till the end but I dropped my ski at the last transition trying to put my skins on as fast as I could… it was funny we hugged and laughed at the finish line! We all had big smiles on our face after the race as we drove down to one of the restaurant to have our post race meal… yes of course pasta again!!! We wondered back to the race for the award ceremony and catch a bit of sun before taking the road back to Landeck, Austria.
Great food and a night of rest later, we drove back down to Venice for the last leg of our trip. We cleaned our little Panda car and left it behind to catch a bit of the Venice Carnaval action. First thing we knew, we were in the air, direction Canada. It sure was a great month full of excitement and emotions. We all learnt a lot once again and we take great memories back with us.

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