|Olivier & Mary, as we skinned up to Olivier's grandfather's Swiss cabin - Dec 1991|
|Mary & I lounging in the sun at the cabin - Dec 1991|
Fortunately, my adventure race friend Jeff took me out on my first AT venture a week prior to the Vert180 event. I was lent Maggie's (his wife's) super duper bombproof (i.e heavy) gear while Jeff was on his skinny minny race AT gear. We started at Sunshine parking lot and skinned at Jeff's breath-taking pace up to the top of the Strawberry chairlift. I was wowed and exasperated at the effort!!
|I am smiling, only because we stopped for a break and I had a chance to put on more clothes. Despite the balmy temperature, the wind and blowing snow was pretty nasty.|
So, a week later, I was off to try the Vert180 event at COP (Canada Olympic Park) in Calgary starting at 6 pm going for 180 minutes. After fending off challenging road conditions to Calgary, I made it in time to rent gear from the Calgary Outdoor Centre. Bonus, was they had "exactly" my size in a new boot, Scarpa Gea 22.5. Had just enough time to unload at Al & Di's house, my accom for the night, with Al being innovative to create bootpack hoops on my favourite backpack. There is usually a "bootpack" section in these events where the skis need to be attached to the pack, hands-free.
With minimal time to spare, Al coached me on transition to skins on/ skins off/ binding.
Showing up to COP, it was very exciting and super scary as I was a Rookie! Very cool to see all the new athletic faces of this new sport for me. Just before race start at 6:15pm, the snow started flying down in down feather clumps after what had been a clear day.
The course started at the base of COP, we skinned up to the top near the Canada flag, to ski down with one sharp right corner to the short bootpack section to complete a lap.
I was surprised, and not, to see how quick the pace started. The pros have super lightweight runnable gear. Despite that, I had a pretty good position going up my first lap. At the top, it was literally a gong show to watch me attempt to transition. I was slow, goofy, folding the skins neatly to tuck into my jacket top, not figuring out how to get the ski boot to clamp into the binding. Meanwhile, at least 20 people pass me.
|Line of AT skiers on the left skinning to the top - photo Goldenskimo|
I got all set and into my bindings ready to go... only to realize... I forgot to put the skins on!! HA! So repeat all the above gong-showness for 3-4 more laps adding in eyes mostly closed on the descents due to pelting snow. I finally nailed transitions on my 5th lap!! and the next few after. Gosh, it felt good to be competent... and I seemed to be gaining on a few people though couldn't tell as many relay teams were involved.
|amazing depth of fluffy snow - photo Goldenskimo|
It was awesome to pass the bottom end of lap zone as the loud music was playing and the crowd was supportive with cheers. It was a good social crowd of competitors.
Just starting my 2nd lap, Peter Knight passed me swiftly looking smooth like a race-walker on skis. I got to see him a couple more times as he lapped me. Getting caught in the same scary driving conditions from Edmonton, Peter arrived late to the race. He managed to win the Solo men event even with a 10 min late start. Thanks to Peter, I've been inspired by his perseverance into Ski-Mo the last few years following his blog.
Once I got into the swing of things, I was loving it! I managed to complete 12 laps in 3 hours just missing the cutoff by 1 minute to be able to do another lap. There was no bonus for longest time spent in transition! which I would have dominated!!
Very well organized event and I'd like to lure more endurance types out next time, as it was totally up our alley for effort, intensity and crazy fun!!
After the event there was at least 15 cm of fresh snow on my car after being in the parking lot for 3 hours!!
The Video courtesy Skintrack.... ha, that's me in the still-photo below (white jacket, green boots)