Saturday, March 16, 2013

Dogtooth Dash - Dash Deflated

Small but hearty group of starters considering it was the North American Champs race. Temp was balmy at just below freezing. Latest race start ever after noon-time. The course was held from the top of the resort down to midway.

Race was soon to be found more like a triathlon with multiple transitions of gear in the short sections of descending, ascending, and boot packs.

Start was at the top of the ski hill - photo Kicking Horse Resort

Starting with the Lemans running start... spaced racers out minimally for the first descent. Kept racers together for awhile.

The Lemans run around the Eagle Eye Restaurant, 
A top of the World feel! - photo Kicking Horse Resort
The Lemans start was more fun than I thought it would be. One boot was a little difficult to get into the binding, then off on a green/blue descent with skiers all over. 

After the Lemans run, Marg & Sheri Foster getting the skis on before the first descent - photo The Golden Star

With the previous warm days, it would have been best to use wall-to-wall skins. I started with the skinny ones and needed more stability on the steep slippery kickturns. Slipping when I was midway into a kickturn was not pleasant, and ate up time scrambling out from under the snow. Made friends with any trees near my path to grab onto.

There were a handful of us back and forth the whole time. My transitions were a little too methodical and time consuming. I'd eventually catch up and pass the same racers who were quicker in transitions.

The first descent had a nice skate-ski section up a rise before a short quick descent to a crowded transition area to put skins on
- photo The Golden Star

The red flags were difficult to follow downhill, and I scrubbed off lots of speed to search them out. Green flags for uphill, not a problem.

Definitely confusing reaching the Eagle Eye transition area with people cheering and no-one really directing the athlete. Tough to see any flags with all the commotion.

Warm day, and dressed as light as I would have wanted to. The sun was out to start, though a snowstorm blew in later in the race.

Follow the leader up the first skin track
As I was bootpacking up, 2/3 the way into the Elite course, the Elite racers were to turn to the left to complete two more sections, the Enduro racers (shorter course) were to turn right to head back up to the finish at the Eagle Eye restaurant at the top of the hill.

A voice from a marshall said "turn right". Knowing my course, I stated, "no, I'm Elite, I'm supposed to turn left". I was told "you did not make the time cut, you HAVE to turn right". Hitting the top of the steep bootpack, the voice was from the race organizer Ian Gale.

I was surprised to be in the position of race cut-off time. I rebutted as "this is a championships race", "I'm challenging a few women behind me for 3rd place right now". At that moment, I was barely 2 hours into the race, and guesstimate that it would have taken another 1:15 to finish the full Elite course.

I waited for Ian's response, and he directed me to the finish. I put in a challenge and it was over-ruled. Bummed not to get to complete the Elite course, I "respected" his judgement call and headed the last 200m up to the finish.

The next person to cross the finish was Peter Knight who wickedly came in 3rd! and top Canadian!. He had to pass my competitors up the boot pack on his 2nd loop. A woman with a radio walks up to me and says "Ian is sorry and will comp your entry".

Confused... My competitors, the racers that were just behind me, got to stay on course! Abit disheartening...

I spoke with the referees David Dornian and Brent Harris at the finish line on what happened. I spoke with Ian when the timesheet was put up. There seemed to be no concern about the situation.

Weird - and tough to not be heard... this would be the deflating part of dogtooth dash.

What to do...
Being involved in high level sports for many years, I chose to pursue the situation with the referees and organizer. It's a growing sport and best to figure out how not to have situations like this pop up in the future.

Not the best way to attract participants if they are randomly sent out of the race!

The "cutoff time" was in place before the race started. The Elite woman in 2nd place was told she barely made the "cutoff time" and could have been in the same position as me. An Elite woman just in front of me was sent to the finish early, and then me. Then, the decision changed.

Having a "time cut" then reneging it after following through with it, and then not respecting their own rules about ranking is questionable... The Alpine Club of Canada lists guidelines that state racers will be ranked from the checkpoint a judgement call is made.

On the topic of course length... if the top 3 women are not making the time cut, then that's a course issue that needs to be assessed before the race begins. Any world cup events I've been in (cycling) have always adjusted the laps or distances varying with the weather and conditions of the day appropriately.

I look forward to working with the Alpine Club of Canada on this. They have been actively enforcing the rules, at least in regards to carrying the shovel, probe and transceiver.

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