05 March, 2010

World Championships 2010 Teams Race

Today was the Teams Race for the World Ski Mountaineering Championships.  I was originally not going to race this event, but luckily/unluckily, Stano had to pull out as he was sick.  We had done a quick recon of the course the week before, and feeling somewhat recovered from the Individual Race, I jumped at the opportunity. James Minifie and myself teamed up.  (Photo Right:  Last Ascent up Baser Peak (2670m)  Credit:  Shauna Spears)

After the womens start, cheering Julie Matteau and Melanie Bernier, out we got ready and went through the beacon check to the start zone half an hour after they started.  Our plan was to keep the pace in check, making sure to not blow up early in the race, but still kept the pace fairly quick up the first ascent (472m) to Pereguils Peak (2702m).  Coming up to the first transition, duking it out with the rest of the Canadian team, we all dropped down the first descent through crud, powder, and icy ruts.  At the transition, every Canadian leaving at around the same time, we formed a strong group to power up the second ascent (1033m) to Font Blanca (2903m).  (Photo Left:  Julie and Mel at the first transition, Credit:  Miquel Marin skimo.org)

At the top of the first false summit, where the track turned to more switchbacks, we began making a gap between us and the other Canadian Teams.  Trying to get ahead, we pushed it a bit harder into the transition, and skied down the wild ice and powder descent.  Leaving the 3rd transition, we tried hard to put as much distance between us and the other teams, catching a team of Spanish Women, and English men.  Little did we know the boys were hot on our tails, as McNab and Jeff skied unbelievably fast down the descent.    

Keeping the pain and pressure going on the last ascent, feeling not so great, we powered up past Team USA's Nina Silitch and Yari Kirkland, hoping to catch Julie and Melanie.  Reiner and Ian began reeling us in, using the toeing method, which worked unbelievably well.  But hitting the bootpack, the change in pace, we felt renewed and accelerated up it.  Cresting over the top, we ran the last ridgetop, getting buzzed by the helicopter filming the race, to the final hand over hand rappel/lower to the last transition.  Thinking everyone was hot on our tails, we skied as fast as possible down the final descent, through a cool couloir to the finish.  (Photo Above Right:  James Minifie leading out the last climb, Alex Wigley following.  Credit:  Shauna Spears)
Florent Perrier and Didier Blanc came in first, and some good battles for the USA, everyone was stoked on the course and the results.  Finishing the race, as well as how we raced it, gave us a great idea on how to pace for Pierra Menta in the next week.  Overall, the course was 23km in distance, and hosted 2305m of elevation gain and loss.  Long courses are the most "fun!"  Team Canada was out and after it, and everyone made the day that much more tolerable with great  while being uncomfortable for so long.  We finished 33rd in the end, with the top Canadian time, but not without the rest of our Team pushing us.  Check out the video below of the leaders dropping the hammer!

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