Saturday, January 24, 2015

2-week Flurry - Skimo & Nordic

With 3 skimo races within a 2-week period and each venue about 6 hour drive away... it was easiest to just take off and hang around the mountains.

Castle Mountain Skimo - Sun Jan 11
Drove down Sat morning in time for a couple of needed runs on my skimo skis. I had not been downhill skiing at all since the first COP race early Dec. I was leery of the stability of my knee that I hurt in a tumble last season.
Cool to have cyclists Shawna Donaldson and Katy Curtis join in with their big gear!
Temp was warm for the skimo start though I overdressed. Unsure how my knee would fare, I wanted to stay on the warmer side. Chilling at the start, I dropped into pace behind Kylie and Michelle with Martha just behind.
49 racers starting - photo from Castle Mtn website
The singletrack skin track was worse than I thought it would be when we scrambled over exposed alder bushes. Had to concentrate to not snag the skin on the alder, nor impale my body from alder poking out. A branch caught me in the eye so eyewear a good idea. I managed to clean the kick-turns without falling, yay!
racers heading for the single track - photo Castle Mtn website
Once out of the technical kick-turn section, I caught back up to Michelle where we both inched towards Kylie. Hitting the boot pack, I was doomed with the uneven terrain. Michelle was a mountain goat and leapt away. Pensive with my weak knee, I slid down crazy steep snowy descents. One of the ridges was an exposed cliff, so I kept looking at the path and was leery to look out.

At transition to downhill, Martha caught up to me. I left after her. Skied the ridge to Lonestar descent. Midway down the chattery snow, my quads ached. Stopped a few times to take a few breathers. Happy to get to the open road to the next ascent.

Fitness climb up the groomed Huckleberry run and then up the cat track road. Martha was in sight. She left the final DH transition by the time I made it there. Last descent in the cat skiing area started out deceivingly great floating through powdery snow. Midway, it got steeper and more chattery. Last 1/3 was so steep and chunky I just stopped wide-eyed for awhile before starting again.

Standing only 30m above the volunteer who said "you're almost there", I laughed as I still seemed at least 20 turns away. I side-slipped a lot of that last section as safety was on my mind. Whenever I did manage a turn, it was no problem so I really wonder what my fear was to connect a few turns together.

Marg Michelle Kylie Martha
Bombed down the last few km on the snowy road back to the finish. Very cool to have all the speedy skimo women waiting to give hugs! That was the most heinous descent ever!

Mon Jan 12
Stayed overnight in the Crowsnest Pass. Went nordic skiing at the awesome Alison Wonderland trails with adventure race friend Dave Whitten. Bummed to see the damage a snowmobiler did by driving on part of the nordic trail. 1 1/2 hour classic ski was plenty!

Tue Jan 13
Calgary based for a couple nights. I headed to Peter Lougheed Provincial Park to ski the Cookie Race course. Since the big floods in June 2013, the beginning 4 km of trail have been diverted. I did not recognize the trails as they were now super hilly. Skied 38 km, 3:15 hr. Weather was cooler than expected as it was balmy in town. Conditions were superb.

Wed Jan 14
Lots of skis to prep and food to get ready for the next three events in 4 days.

Nor Am 10 km Masters Classic -  Thur Jan 15
10k is a short fast race I do not prefer. Since I was in the area, I thought what the heck it'd be cool to go in this test race course for the 2016 Nor-Ams. Entry was the right price at $0 i.e. free.

Start was on the frozen Lake Louise heading out the rolly trails down Telemark double-pole descent. Racers started 30 seconds apart. I was one of the last racers. It was pretty cool to see my 30 sec and 1 min person ahead as I went along Moraine Lake road.

On the slight grade, single kick/double pole was way faster than diagonal stride. I passed a couple skiers before I turned onto the wicked climb into Fairview trail. The trail was in the most pristine condition I have ever skied on! Slowly inched up to racer Cori once we peaked the climb. Her double pole was strong. I stayed behind her as we rolled back along the lake. At the steep climb behind the Chateau, I jumped ahead and raced up the climb.  Crazy washed out hairy descent back down to the lake, then double poled to the line.

Marg just crossing the line on Lake Louise - photo Henry Yau
The results were cool to peruse as our time-trial times were recorded in three spots. My 2nd and 3rd sections were 1 sec quicker than Mary Young, though she had a wicked 1st section on the double-pole descent down Tramline. 3rd place was Sovereign Lake skier Mae Hooper who we raced with at Master Worlds in 2011.

Whitefish Whiteout 2015 Skimo -  Sat Jan 17
With Katy Curtis intrigued with skimo after her first race at Castle Mtn, we drove Friday night to Whitefish. Gotta remember not to pick up registration too early in the morning as there is really nowhere to hang out indoors near the race start.
speedy start - photo Myke Hermsmeyer
Again, I overdressed a smidgeon. It was stifling racing up the first climb. I had a good start then a woman pulled ahead with a nice pace as I gave her cheers. Then, I heard cheers behind me from Katie French urging me to bridge the gap. I tried a couple times to get out of my pace though did not have enough drive.
crazy course description

Skiing a course the prior day helps me get the jitters out for these double-black descents. Didn't get that chance this time. I skied pretty sketchy on Cal's Country then balked many times on the Haskill Slide. It was harder with the lumpy snow conditions. Meanwhile, I saw Lizzy and Martha fly by smoothly.

At transition, I was unsure why Katie French showed up after me as I left to catch Martha. Katy had missed a turn. All the skinning was on groomed trail. Not technical at all, quite the fitness course. A couple years ago, I would have liked this. Now, I think groomed trails are boring and I wanted more technical climbing.
Excellent views from the top
Caught and passed Martha though urged her into the 2nd descent single track before me. Had a little tumble and made it out to the boot-pack. Held my own though did not seem to make up time to Martha. Next couple descents/ascents were new to me. Mostly bombing descents on blue runs. I did not know how much speed was safe with recreational skiers around. Last climb was a long gentle approach for the first 5 km. Could almost have skate-skied it. Too much false-flat distance.

Jen leads Lisa Currey up Bighorn - photo Myke Hermsmeyer
The last boot pack section was the best part as I did get one kick-turn in! At the top, slow meander to the finish. After retrieving my clothing from the short course finish, I was too cold after to enjoy anymore skiing so made the last run to the car. Katy made it through the whole long course with her adventure gear!

Multiple draw prizes given out at awards as there were so many to offer. It was great to have Katy make the drive back to Calgary. A little shuffling of gear and I had time for a few hours sleep before heading to Banff the next morning.

Lake Louise to Banff Loppet (shortened course) - Sun Jan 18
Made it out to Banff in time for the 7 a.m. shuttle bus to Lake Louise. The fresh soft snow was falling in the mild temps. Race started at 9 a.m. Course only 50 km with bridge still out due to 2013 flood.

With the fresh snow, no grip was to be had. It was slow going. Skiers raced in only one track making it tough to pass. Most skiers politely pulled aside to the snowy track to let a faster skier by. After a decent effort on Leg 1, the rest was a s-l-o-g to the finish.

ok, so this blog was sitting in draft for 6 months so this race writeup is slim

Next week spent in the Okanagan with awesome nordic skiing at Telemark.

Kicking Horse Challenge - Sat Jan 24
Took the opportunity to pick up the race package early and get out skiing Friday afternoon. Bumped into California friend Catherine Talbot on a ski holiday. Super fun to ski with Catherine and her friends.
Cookie Parade racer Catherine Talbot and Marg - ahh memories!
Race is all a blur. Due to major snow the prior night, the course was altered to 2 loops missing out some tough double black diamond sections.
Lemans Start around the restaurant at the top - photo Mathew Hall
I bumbled along the lemans start. At the bottom of the first descent, I left just before Katy with her heavy AT gear. Had a good climb to Stairway to Heaven. Was super excited to get through the double black diamond descent safely, where a tumble last season hurt my knee wickedly (boot did not release from ski embedded in snow in an awkward position).

bootpack section - photo Mathew Hall
Found the 2nd loop much better than the 1st. Nice to be done! Season over.

Two Canadians enjoying the hot tub at Catherine's chalet rental on the hill - Marg holding Katy's beer!
Nordic skiing at Goldbar with Ann Yew