AHHHH Already the last race of the winter! It was quite the season once again for our National Ski Mountaineering Team. Some of our racers competed in 15 different events over the last 4 months anywhere from Canada, the US, Italy and France. The last stop of our busy season was last Saturday at Lake Louise. We received confirmation of the race only two weeks before the event but it had nothing of a last minute race. With nothing but amazing snow conditions in the forecast and new terrain to explore, the small crowd of racer was really excited to take part in this event.
We woke up to a snowy but mild day on Saturday morning and gathered near the top of the Glacier Chair for a quick warm up. At 8:30 sharp, all 15 racers made their way towards the top of White Horn Chair. As we gained the ridge, the wind started to strongly blow, which literally took our breath away. At the top of the Summit Platter Chair, we descended the steep “F Gully” in pretty low visibility… but the snow was amazing! Thanks to the red flags, we could get a bit of definition and scope the next turn! Then we climbed to “Bare Assed” pass to undertake a really long bootpack up and across a rocky ridge. At the top of the climb, it was a bit unclear if we needed to traverse on the flat by foot or put our skis back on. Walking was hard since we were either hitting rocks or sinking in deep facetted snow. As it turns out, we needed to walk and not ski and unfortunately, 2 people received a 5 minutes time penalty for doing so. Following the ridge walk we skied down “Steep Run” all the way to Temple Lodge. That’s where the last uphill transition was but we were far from being done at that point! We climbed in the trees above Temple Lodge to gain “Purple Bowl” through a long traverse and some meadow features. The wind was quite strong at that point, which started to cover the skin track between racers and the traveling was becoming hard at times. Finally at the top, we skied the “Elevator Shaft” in amazing snow conditions to get back in the busy inbound terrain skiing through a mix of moguls, trees and finally long cat track all the way to the bottom. The 1650m of positive gain course was quite challenging but really fun to race. Result wise, Reiner Thoni took the lead of the race from the start and had an amazing performance even with penalty at the ridge walk section! Congrats bud for a great race and a great season. Ian Gale came in second place and also had a great race all the way to the bottom of the Elevator Shaft descent where his Ski Trab decided to give in and brake! Poor Ian was single leg skiing along the cat track to gain the finish line. Peter Knight finished 3rd and Jeff Colvin came just behind him. Congrats Jeff for a nice strong race!On the Ladies side, well, I’m sorry Ian, but I finished behind Reiner, passing the broken ski a few minutes before the finish line…Julie Matteau came in 2nd, Lisa Wilson came in 3rd and Martha Burley came in 4th. It was also great to see some new faces at the event (Congrats Christina for her first race and to Nathan and Ian from the Biathlon team).
Congratulations to all of the Ski Mo Racers who followed the circuit around this season, people that attended a few events and also the ones that traveled overseas. Now for me is Active Recovery Time. Today, I treated myself to a bit of lift access skiing with great friends. RMR was sunny and powdery! We often forget how nice our backyard is!!! Then to top the best recovery day ever, we headed to “La Baguette” for a French Canadian Spring Tradition; La Cabane a Sucre (Sugar Shack Party). Olivier Dutil and Sonia Ratte, the owners, baked Maple Sirop goodies end even did the hot toffee on snow. Hmmm, how could I almost forgot how good it tastes!