3 Skimo Race, 15,000’ climbing, 18 miles of distance, in 2 days
At first thought, the idea of putting all that in 2 days sounded crazy. The Wyoming Roundup would be the newest US Skimo Stage race. It would combine The Jackon race, Grand Targhee Classic, and add in a new Snow King Sprint race. It was guaranteed to be a very busy weekend. Drive to Driggs on Friday, race Grand Targhee Classic Saturday morning, drive to Jackson, attempt to dry out gear before Saturday’s second race at Snow King, try to sleep, race Jackson on Sunday, then drive home. It makes me tired even recapping the plan.
As is typical for this race weekend, the weather forecast was cold. It was going to be snowing, below zero (F) temps, and very windy.
Emily and I were both excited for the race weekend. For me, it was to return for the third year to race Targhee and Jackson and for her it was to have her first big multi-race weekend.
We had a great Thai dinner in Driggs with Jason D, Josh, Nick, and Brita, then were back at the hotel to get our race gear ready. A 9AM start on Saturday allowed us a somewhat relaxing morning. The weather at Grand Targhee was socked in, windy, and cold as expected. There was a nice layer of fresh snow so we were hoping for good skiing conditions until Andy (the RD) told us to expect otherwise since the 40mph winds of the previous afternoon had scoured everything up high. We warmed up for a while, then had to wait for a 30 minute race delay for avalanche control work. We warmed up again and the race was off with the standard ‘stupid, fast’ pace. I struggled to get into a rhythm on the steep first climb. A fast and good descent got me into my rhythm for the second climb and I enjoyed the climb and the booter up Mary’s Nipple. The second descent was what I was worried about after last year’s breakable crust. Expecting the snow to get bad at any time, I skied cautiously. The snow stayed good, but was very thin. The last climb was long. I blew both skins and lost 4 places. After replacing skins, I pushed the pace up to regain 2 of the places. I reached the top and was excited about the steep couloir off the top. It skied great followed by a straight-line descent down the apron and onto a groomer. I crossed the finish line in 1:55:48 for 12th place. I was 2 minutes slower than 2013 which was disappointing as I was hoping to be around 10 minutes faster. I got some warm cloths on and waited for Emily at the finish line. Emily came across very cold with frost nip on her thumbs at 2:40:21 for 11th. Full Grand Targhee Classic Results.
Emily at Grand Targhee Classic Finish
We waited for awards and were on our way over Teton Pass by around 1. With lots of wet gear, we had things spread around the car as much as possible to dry. We go to Jackson and checked into our luxurious Super 8 room and went about getting our gear dried. Heater on high, doors and windows wide open. With Mark, Emily, and my wet gear the room did not have a good smell. Emily Sullivan came by and wouldn’t come past the door way it smelled so bad. We weren’t left with many options. We had just over 1 hour to get our gear as dry as possible before the Snow King Sprint Race.
We loaded up and headed to Snow King a little before 4. We got ready and started to warm up on the sprint course. The race would be 3 laps of 400’ each with several switchbacks and a booter. Sprinting is neither of our strong points so we just hoped to survive. When the gun went off, I felt very good and was able to push hard. All of our practice at transitions definitely paid off. Was was able to finish the 3 laps in 21:03 for 8th place. Emily finished in 27:54 for 7th.
Chad transitioning at the sprint race: http://www.jkaphanphotography.com/#!/portfolio/C0000xkYKqzUSodI/G0000GT2Z_NATWZw/8
We went straight to dinner (another Thai meal), the back to the hotel as quickly as possible to get our race gear ready for the next day. I decided against waxing skis and skins and instead just wanted to get things ready and off to bed.
Jackson was an 8AM start so we were up early. We arrived at the resort to cold and windy weather. Forest (the RD) announced it was -8F and 40 mph winds. Frostbite would be a real concern for everyone. Most people grabbed an extra layer ‘just in case’. As usual, we got warmed up and anxiously waited the race to start. Jackson is a big race. 10 miles and 8200’ ascent with some super steep descents. It is intimidating on fresh legs and even more on legs with 2 races on them.
A Speedy Jackson Start (photo by Jackie Concannon)
I was having a great race. The ascents felt good and the skiing was very good. I kept a steady pace and tried to maintain my warmth. As I approached the Corbett’s booter, I put on an extra pair of gloves.
Chad topping out at Corbett’s ladder: http://www.jkaphanphotography.com/#!/portfolio/C0000xkYKqzUSodI/G0000GT2Z_NATWZw/33
After topping on on the Corbett’s we were in the full strength of the weather. It was so windy it was hard to stand up and it was so cold it was hard to breath. We moved our frozen bodies to the top only thinking about getting down as quickly as possible. When Emily arrived here, the volunteers told her she could not continue without going inside as her cheeks were white. She went in the patrol shack and as quickly as possible thawed her cheeks and thumbs and then was out on course again. This was standard for lots of racers and many who went in ended up dropping so it was great that she was able to dig deep and continue on. I got off course descending from the top of the tram not able to find the course in white out conditions. Once back on course, I pointed the skis down and did all I could to make up time. This descent is over 4000’ and it hurt. Your legs are burning and you know that you have 1 more 1200’+ climb left.
I reached the last transition, put on fresh skins that I had saved for this painful ascent and set out on a pace with Stevie and John on my tails. The 3 of us had been pushing each other all day and it was going to come down to this last ascent. Any mistake would cost me a place so I had to make sure everything went perfect. My fresh skins proved to be a great idea and I avoided any skin issues and the 3 of us topped out within second of each other. Time to make it a race. 1000’ of big moguls, then a groomer. I pointed them down and hung on. I crossed the finish line in 3:04:32 in 9th place.
I expected Emily in about 4 hours. That came and went and she came through very cold and frostbitten in 4:29:05 in 10th place.
I ended the 3 race series in 9th place in 5:21:23. Emily ended in 6th in 7:27:51.
The overall Jackson results and Wyoming Roundup Results can be found here:
We have a very busy couple weeks coming up with lots of racing.
- This Saturday (11 Jan) is Heathen Challenge at Sunlight Resort
- Next Saturday (18 Jan) I am racing the Swiss Cup in Verbier. I am in London for work and I was able to sneak in a side trip for this race.
- 21 Jan is the OR Show race
- 28 January is another Citizen Series race.
Impacts of racing in -8F and 40mph winds