Saturday, January 19, 2013

Whitefish Whiteout - 2nd Real Skimo Race!

My second real ski-mo race and my first time skiing at Whitefish Big Mountain Resort. Last time I was in the area was in 1997 for a 3-day road bike stage race, including a climb up to the ski hill.

Marg tucked in amongst the Canada Suit Guys (with blue helmet) - photos Whitefish

Course - 4 ascents (including a bootpack section), 3 descents. Hill-climb finish!

Climbing - Physically challenging. The first climb was like a roadbike TT on groomed track. The rest of the skinning was on steep pitches with loose deep snow, sketchy, and energy robbing.

Descending - workable as the runs were carved nicely; gates to guide the course. Just like mtn-biking, it would help to know the course.

Bootpack Section - Total fun once I was out of the deep snow falling in to my knees. Vertical snow steps, steep like a snow version Grouse Grind.

In the video, funny clip at 1:30 where I am slo-mo in folding my skins, 
as the racer next to me fights with removing a skin off his ski... 
also, black/white clip at the end of the video of me heading to the finishline

87 skiers, rec & racer categories, lined up on the most outstanding weather day. Clear blue skies with brilliant views, mild temps, awesome snow conditions. Heard it was rare to get the clear views.

After way too long of pre-race instructions while we were waiting on the raceline in minimal gear getting cold, the race finally began up Toni Matt groomer, a designated resort climb route.

fast start 
The Canada suit guys took off. I kept Steve Sellars in my sight knowing he'd set a good even pace that would work for me for the first while.

Brad Schalles leads Peter Knight - good example of working hard
(or Peter's definition of smiling less & suffering more!)

I went my normal hard up the climb and held a good position within the top 10. Impressive with a couple guys around me with fat skis and heavier gear.

The climb was open and non-technical though was steep and taxing on the lungs. My legs were even burning.

Top guys duking to the top (Peter Knight, local Ben Parsons, Brad Schalles)

There was one person ahead 20 metres that I thought could possibly be a woman. We were climbing at the same pace. Seemingly so close in distance, yet so far in actual time and effort.

Marg's last push to the top - pretty focused

At the top, had an ok transition. Was met by mountain bike friends Tim and Tracie Brezsnyak (Deadgoat racers) who were awesome to follow me down the hill. Tim was super supportive with his comments as I bumbled along.

Beautiful views, snow-clad trees

I was actually skiing parts of the hill. Skittered when I was unsure about a line then took a few turns. Descending Cal's Country was manageable though Haskill Slide was challenging yet no-where near as daunting as Lone-Star from last week's Castle Mtn race.

The women swooshed by me with grace, it was impressive to see.

skittering down!

Next skin up ventured into a steep gladed run. It was challenging in soft snow which provided no solid base to push off from. My actual step turns went well with all the "training" from the Castle Mtn race.

Skin tracks went all over. I started taking my own best line merging into another racer's. I attempted to minimize energy loss though there was alot of slippage on this steep climb.

At the top, saw Tim again. Skied down more black diamond runs, skittering and making turns. It was helpful to follow blue or red gates to guide my path. Scraped thru double-black diamond East Rim safely.

Marg unknowingly following Michelle (bottom photo) with Tim in red spectating (on right)

Next skin was short though challenging with more steep gladed run up N.B.C. It was not apparent where the bootpack section was to begin. Looking ahead, one skier was bootpacking while another was skinning

much steeper than it looks!
I was tired of slipping and transitioned to boot pack in not the best spot. My legs dived into the snow up to my knee with each footstep.

Once I got into the middle of the run, nice kicked in steps guided me up. It was steep like the outdoor stair climb Grouse Grind. The odd step was too high for me, and I wavered a little backward. I kept thinking "weight forward" as falling backward was not an option.

I caught up to a few skiers that slowed my pace a few minutes until they cleared the top of the boot pack. Thinking it was transition to ski, I was told it was still a short skin up to the top.

I reached into my jacket to grab my skins, and was surprised they weren't there. "I lost my skins" I said out loud. Another skier exclaims, they are "on your skis"! Oh yeah, I forgot!

Love that scenery with Jenny Pierce skinning up

Zipped up the short skin to transition to ski. Got cheers from the Canadian guys who already finished.

The last descent on Glory Hole started out with tight single track around fir trees with minimal room to turn or brake. I followed two skiers that were my pace. Further down it was open and turnable.

Marg chilling with Chance up the last climb - smiling!

Last climb up near Hell-Fire was tough again with steep loose snow. My skins did not grab and I sunk and slipped my way up. I realized 2/3 way up that my top boot buckle was still locked so maybe due to hindered weight shift.

Last 400m was a slight grade kind of flat, and I did my best to ski in cross-country ski style. I was 6th woman in and was welcome by the other 5 women. Very nice comradry.

The Skimo Gals
Michelle Roberts (Cdn), Katie French (USA), Marg Fedyna (Cdn), 
Nikki Kimball (USA), Martha Burley (Cdn), Jenny Pierce (USA) 
- photo from speedy Nikki Kimball

Yay, I was the 1st woman on the climb, and Canadian team member Brad was the 1st guy.

Cdn guys took 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 6th, 8th (Stano Faban , Brad Schalles, Peter Knight, Steve Sellars, Nial Gleeson). Canadian women took 3rd, 4th and 6th (Martha Burley - tele-queen, Michelle Roberts, Marg Fedyna) - awesome!

My GPS claimed elevation gain 5500', elevation loss 3360', contrary to other reports of 4800' gain. Whatever it was, it was alot of sketchy climbing!

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