28 March, 2011

Dogtooth Dash Race Report

It was the Dogtooth Dash ski mountaineering race this past weekend, the Canadian Championships, at Kicking Horse Resort in Golden BC.  On Saturday the Individual race, hosting 14.3km and 1560m of climbing, all throughout Kicking Horse's high peaks was the main event.  However, this year a second Relay Race was added as a fun race to cap it all off.  (Photo Below, Start of the Dogtooth Dash Individual, courtesy of Goldenskimo)

The race course was really well designed and set, yet again thanks to Ian Gale (goldenskimo), and brought tons of strong competitors to the event.  The race started off with a bang, with all the competitors racing around the Eagle Eye restaurant at the top of the mountain, in a Le Mans style start (running skis in hand).  Coming out of the transition to the downhill I pulled out front into the lead with the rest of the Canadian Team hot on my heels.  Battling down the downhill with Melanie Bernier and Andrew McNab we transitioned quickly and started climbing.  The race had started well, but at the top of the first climb my first set of skins began to fail, and balancing on top of them was essential to finishing the first climb.  Down the second descent, James Minifie's binding disintegrated forcing him to quit after a nasty bail, and coming into the transition it was just Mel, Ian, McNab, and Reiner.

To my dismay, at only the second uphill transition, my secondary skin was failing before even using it once.  Halfway through it required a change, and so the pattern of skin changing multiple times on the course began.  Trying to hold onto third place, then just fourth, then maybe top five, then even trying to at least finish was a challenge.  My skins were totally and utterly finished, but managed to at least finish thanks to Steve Sellers handing off a pair so I could finish.  Problems from one issue led to others, with a bail mid course, screaming barfies from hands being covered in snow and wet from skin issues, and finally a pole to the knee making bootpacking painful.  It was a devastating race.  (Photo Below:  Melanie Bernier racing hard, courtesy of Goldenskimo)

That being said, Ski Mountaineering Racing is the hardest sport on earth, as there is no recovery, so many aspects to master (gear, technique, transitions, skinning, fitness, strategy, etc....) that when one thing goes wrong it's hard to pull it all together.  So learning from your mistakes and mishaps is vital to progressing in this sport, and yes you too will have problems somewhere down the line, as all racers do.

Problem found, and Lesson Learned:  Colder weather wax will stay on your skis longer and does not get run off the same as a softer warmer wax.  When waxing your skis for skimo racing, make sure you only use a soft warm wax which can be run off to the point where your skis are almost dry again, but still provide the glide and snow repulsion they need to perform properly.  Cold weather wax takes too long to come off the ski, and the plastics injected into it don't allow the glue from your skins to grip to it properly, causing them to un-peal and get contaminated with snow - skin failure.

Overall, fitness was feeling strong which is what is important, and I will be even more ready for the next race and get some redemption.  Congrats to Reiner Thoni (1st), Andrew McNab (2nd) and Ian Gale (3rd), along with the ladies Melanie Bernier (1st), Julie Matteau (2nd), and Billie Velisek (3rd).  Full Results Here.  (Photo Above:  Podiums For The Individual)

(Photo Above:  Relay Course Day 2)  Second day, the Relay, was a blast.  A race to go out, go hard, and have fun which was not for SMCC points.  A fair amount of people where out, dressed in race suits and flower lays, blazers, cowboy hats, and hilarious race team names.  Pro Tele skier and Faction ski rider Martha Burley and I teamed up as Team Fubar, and got out to put in some fast laps.  The relay was a true Canadian Relay, as it was off-piste, and up the side of a steep ridge opposed to the buff World Cup Relays we've been racing on in Europe.  Great fun, and a fantastic event, if you didn't make it this year make it next year!

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