Sunday, February 24, 2013

ROAM Randonnee Rally Skimo - Net Gain!

The word "powder" in Coldsmoke Powder Fest had me concerned with the upcoming ROAM Randonnee Rally ski-mo race at Whitewater Ski Resort in Nelson, BC.

The Coldsmoke Powder Fest is a weekend of clinics and events, so I signed up for an Alpine Skills clinic the day before the race.

Alpine Skills Clinic - Friday
After my first run, I was designated to the "intermediate" group to my dismay. I relayed my goal of desperately needing to learn how to descend double-black diamond powder runs. I'm not sure how the instructors perceived that comment, as it was clear I needed the basic technical skills (ha!).

Fortunately, the instructor leading my group was Alison Gannett, world champ big mountain free skier! She leads women's camps called KEEN Rippin Chix.

Starting with basic skills, Alison helped my little group improve quickly that she took us down black diamond runs, even Terra Ratta, a double-black diamond run.

The biggest thing I took away was to focus down the fall-line. Previous to learning this, I was stuck on looking down at my ski tips. What a huge difference that made. I was thrilled to have gone from a scared stiff descender to a skier, still scared, though armed with functional tools to get me down a steep run.

Marg Fedyna, tele-queen Martha Burley, Michelle Roberts
 photo Michelle Roberts

ROAM Randonee Rally - Saturday

I got to admit, I was quite abit tuckered from my Friday's events... all day ski clinic, being outdoors in the snowy blowing day with minimal food & water (I'm a constant grazer), the late race meeting that night, as well as prep for the race... including time with my old training bud Dave's family (originally from Edmonton) who I was staying with in Nelson.

Martha, fresh from the World Champs in Europe, raced to the front with Michelle on her heels. I had to chill to a pace on how I felt. Soon enough, I dodged into the front before the low grade climb went into the switchback snowy hillclimb.

Fast race start - Marg in MitoCanada green & black

Working the climb, my ski flew off on a kickturn. Darn, this was the first time I felt confident to leave the ski leashes off.

Note to self... put a darn sticker saying "LOCK" in front of my ski binding. 3 for 3, in each of the recent ski-mo races, my ski has come off when doing a kickturn on a climb as I forgot to lock the binding.

While I was stuck in the deep snow, Martha, Michelle and a rescue skier guy passed by. I finally put the ski back on, locked the bindings. Moved forth before the next skier caught up. Thought Katarina would be coming by soon though she was having her own fun with skins not sticking.

Stopped again to dislodge mounds of snow in the front cuff of my ski boots. Stopped again as a twig on a tree branch poked into my helmet holes and prevented me from going forward. I wondered how long my fingers would keep warm in the now wet gloves.

Before the top of the climb, I eventually caught back up to Michelle and rescue skier guy who politely let me pass. Martha was in sight.

At the top of the climb, skins were kept on for a slightly descending rolling traverse. Very sketchy movement here... and as race winner Stano Faban stated in his race report we were "feeding on the fresh storm snow"! I took a nice snow-dive, as Michelle and rescue skier guy glided by. I told myself to be calm and go a chill pace.

First transition. My attempt to rip off my skins had me fall to the snow. The new skin's glue stuck too well. Sitting in the snow, I tugged off both skins. A little concerned that my butt was now damp from the wet snow, so glad the temp was warm and just below 0 C.

The steep entry to the first powdery descent still looked daunting! As I skittered down, I had to really focus to remember Alison's teachings. Looking down the ever so steep fall-line, I managed to make a few turns in a row in the powdery snow. Cool, it works!

Major untouched powder section. I scooted over to avoid other racer's tracks and set my own trail in the fresh deep powder. That was a first deep powder run for me! Meanwhile, fat ski racers were zooming by like they were couchsurfing.

On the next climb, I had to re-pass at least five of those fast descending guys. By the time I reached the top, Michelle and rescue skier guy were in sight approaching the first bootpack.

Another weird traverse with skins on, to reach the White Lightning major bootpack. The approach was on unsettled snow where I fell thru to my thigh. I invented a crawling technique using my poles flatly on the surface as support. Michelle has a nice recap of this section.

The footsteps into the bootpack section were nicely formed. It was an endless stepladder up. At the top, switched to dry gloves.

Another steep powdery descent slowed me up longer than I would have liked as fat ski skiers floated by again. I enjoyed the final skin up to the last descent. When I crossed back into the ski resort boundary, I was ecstatic to be on a run I did the prior day.

With a few hollers of "where are the flags?", a skier pointed me toward a red flag that was the loop of the final skate-ski to the finish. I was surprised it was only 2:15 hr effort as it felt longer.

downloaded GPS data shows 9.9 km; 3600' elevation gain; yellow - bootpack

highlighted yellow were bootpack sections
Night before plummeted 33 cm of fresh powder before the race. Throughout the whole race, I experienced that fresh powder as I was pretty much snow covered all day from falls and crawls. So glad it was warm out!

Super fun course with all the crazy powder. Wish I had photos of the amazing backcountry scenery we raced through...

As tired as I was from an all-day clinic the prior day, my downhill skiing was way quicker than without the clinic... a definite net gain in time and effort!

Sunday - Troll Loppet at the Paulson X-C Ski Trails

Missed out on the KEEN Rippin Chix clinic, definitely next year. Went with Dave and his daughter Zoe to the Troll Loppet. I first ever skied with Zoe way back in Edmonton when Dave used to pull Zoe in the pulk!
Zoe (on left) and her ski friends - photo Dave Paetkau
I purposely did not register as I'm race loppeted-out. I did follow the lead guy's pace as it was a nice training pace for me. He preferred to follow me, so I lead him out for the first 20k. The trails were in awesome snowy shape and the scenery was outstanding!

Evening drive with Dave's family to the Ainsworth Hot Springs to explore the caves made for a great night's sleep.
Dave cutting up a nice new chubbier wall-to-wall skin for my AT skis

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