Saturday, January 25, 2014

Whitefish Whiteout Bootpack Special
Original course was set to be 4 climbs and 3 descents with one boot-pack section on the 3rd climb. Mostly due to snow conditions, not much skinning was to be had after the first groomer climb. There were 3 extra boot pack sections. Not that I minded, just not expected.

Good racing crowd - 40 Racers start! - from Big Dave`s video
28 Recreational/Ascent-Only racers start (1st & 4th loops only) - from Big Dave`s Video
Race announcements went well ahead of start time. It was nice to be on the start line and off on schedule. Weather was socked-in with fog though warm, hovering just below freezing.

Lead racers ascend into the fog - from Big Dave`s video
I went out a good consistent pace on the 1st climb having Carl Kohnstomm in sight who I had duelled on the climbs at Castle Mountain's race. Closer to the top I managed to squeak by him on a steeper pitch. It was so foggy it was difficult to see the orange markers, as well as the racer 10 meters in front of me.

Even the top transition zone came as a surprise. Transition went well though not flawless as a couple guys came and went around me. Difficult to go fast on the first groomed run due to limiting visibility in the fog.

Peter Knight starting first foggy descent - from Big Dave`s video
Almost missed the turn into Cal's Country descent. Sketched my way thru following the wonderful tall slalom gate race flags. The double-black descent down Haskill Slide was narrow and sketchy with lack of snow. Slowly scraped my way safely… that grating sound of the ski edges on solid snow. Just leaving transition, racer Chance I skied with alot last year was just coming in and said 'hi'!

2014 Course Description for reference
1st Leg - Toni Matt Ascent  Start right of Chair 1, in main lift plaza. Ascend to Big Mtn summit(new this yr- checkpoint at top Chair 5). Transition to downhill.
2nd Leg - Haskill Loop  Descend Inspiration to Cal's Country to Haskill Slide. Transition - ascend MoeMentum, up North Bowl Face, to summit transition.
3rd Leg - East Rim Loop  Descend Fill Hill out Russ' Street past Moose ski run. Turn right at 'Buckle your Boot' traverse, go out apron, down Moose. Transition to climb bootpack N.B.C. to summit.
4th Leg - Hellroaring Loop  Down Hellfire from Connie's road. Descend Slingshot to 'Glory Hole' road. Transition to skins for skin track up Glory Hole to Hellfire road. Quick charge to finish line at Summit.

2nd ascent had a little bit of skinning in the trees up snowy steep climbs. Unlike last year where it was a lot of super tough kick turn climbing. To my surprise, as I missed hearing this in the morning race briefing, of a few possible boot-pack sections. Two extra times up this climb before skinning to the top to the wonderful sounds of cowbells!

1376 elevation gain, 740m loss, over 8.1 km
first ascent 630m over 2.2 km
4 bootpack sections shown in orange
very much an ascending race!
and mostly bootpack in the latter legs
2nd descent, I kept my eyes peeled for the gate markers. I was almost fooled and turned at one. The marshall was just around the corner to the entrance to a fun descent in the gladed forest - like a slalom run with trees as the gates.

Short descent, got spit out to transition to a short skin up to NBC boot-pack. Boot-pack went by uneventful, a flat skinning section then steeper skin to the same transition with cowbells. Transition was a gong-show falling over on the uneven surface while removing my skin.

Local skier Ben Parsons leading Canadian Eric Carter
up the N.B.C. boot-pack - from Big Dave`s video
3rd descent started with an easy groomer with a direct dive into Slingshot. This descent was steep with reasonable sketchy snow. My quads were on the verge of cramping. The descent was so short that I skied right by the marshall. She hollered this was the last transition.

Peter Knight crossing the finish line - from Big Dave`s video
Meanwhile, a woman in a skinsuit just arrived to transition as I was leaving. That quickened my pace up the boot-pack! This ascent was supposed to be a skin up though an earlier racer started boot-packing so we all followed the steps. As I passed around a rec racer, I felt a hand give me a huge push up! Unexpected though helped stability.

I was thinking of what best to do at the top of the boot-pack… take time to put the skins on or skate-ski. It was probably only 400m to the finish. I'm an x-c skier and chose the latter. With a slight incline, had to work the two-skate then could single-skate once I was closer. The hardest part was the final five feet up to the steep finish line!

Marg  Michelle  Tele-Martha  Peter - chilling at the top post-race

Michela Adrian from Bozeman, who I met at the Jackson Hole Race, finished a couple minutes back. She put her skins on for the final leg.

Michelle Katchur Roberts braved the event with her healing fingers (frostbite at JH race) and came in soon after in good spirits. Quite a few racers were missing due to colds, and one recovering from ACL surgery.

It was nice to be warm the whole time during this event. Thanks to the organizers and volunteers standing out there. It was a fun racer crowd to ski with as well.

My first ascent 32:45 was a minute quicker than last year's time (course was slightly altered). The top racer up the ascent won a $50 prize with Eric Carter having a stellar sub-28 min time. Last year women were included in the ascent prizing. This year, not sure what happened to equal prizing for women on that one! It may still come. Hopefully, it just got lost.

Super thrilled to find the spring just west of Fernie!

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