06 February, 2011

Sunshine 5000 Ski Mountaineering Race

Another Ski Mountaineering Competition Canada Race done, the Sunshine 5000 (Banff, AB), and one more race closer to the World Championships in Italy this month.   So after a long drive, a lot of coffee, and a large amount of snow on the roads; I found myself at the start-line along with the rest of the Canadian Skimo Team, and a number of other ready to suffer racers.

This year the course was a bit longer (pictured above), actually making it a bit more like the Sunshine 6000, but with great weather and perfect conditions everyone was up for it all.  The course starts with a long but flat ascent, to burn the legs, and maintain a high cadence.  Overall, the course had four ascents, and four descents including a downhill finish.

Blasting out of the start gate, the usual sprint to setup and position yourself, was fun (Photo Above, courtesy of Lynn Martel).  Everyone slipped into a tight peloton, leading was Reiner Thoni, and the rest of the Canadian Team chomping at the bit behind him.  Within the first 5 minutes, there was a breakaway from the peloton of skimo racers, five of us managed to put the gas on and slip ahead.  We battled for position moving forward and back with everyone feeling strong.  I nudged into 3rd slot and the breakaway started to spread out.  That was until the first descent.  With a poorly marked descent Ian Gale (Goldenskimo), James Minifie, and myself headed off course luckily regaining the course but were caught up with by Stano Faban (skintrack.com).

On the battle went, a short climb, and another transition.  This time I was the unlucky one to ski far off course, losing my 3rd place position, and watching Ian and James take over while heading the totally opposite direction.  Frantically, polling through the deep snow, finally regaining the transition point after going fully anaerobic working to get back I managed to transition fast enough to regain pursuit.  Slowly realing them in, working hard to regain my time, I caught up.  But without a moment to lose, the attacks on the course came, and there was no rest to be had.  (Photo Left:  Andrew McNabb and chase behind him.  Courtesy of Lynn Martel)

By the last lap, with considerable back and forth battling, James, Ian, Stano, and I had begun closing the gap between us and Andrew McNabb who was currently in second.  The battle continued through the switchbacks, and bootpack, with a painful skin to the transition line.  Stripping skins quickly, and straightlining some chutes, down the mountain we all arrived within a very short amount of time.  Dissapointed with the two detours which cost a fair amount of time, I still thought, that this was the most fun I have had racing in Canada.  (Photo Below:  Ian Gale, Alex Wigley, and James Minifie at the last transition down, a close race and 50 second spread!  Photo courtesy of Lynn Martel)  

Other great performances came from Melanie Bernier (CAD Team), the first place finisher in the female category, blazing across the course unbelievably fast as usual.  Brad Schalles also giving current Canadian Team members someone else to look out for, finishing with a great time as well.  Times were fast this year, for everyone.  Really fast.  It was a great turn out, with lots of serious racers, as well as many giving it a shot to test their limits.  We couldn't have asked for better weather and snow conditions.  A great day of racing behind us, back to Golden for a quick post-race dinner and get-together, everyone is stoked for more.  (Photo Above Right:  (L to R) Alex Wigley 4th, Andrew McNabb 2nd, Reiner Thoni 1st, and James Minifie 3rd, Below Right: (L to R) Martha Burley 4th, Julie Matteau 2nd, Melanie Bernier 1st, and Billie Velisek 3rd)

Full Results HERE.

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