Monday, March 23, 2015

Grand Traverse ~ March 27, 2015

Starting at midnight on Friday from Crested Butte, racers will traverse the Elk Mountains arriving in Aspen the next day.
 40 Miles
7,800 Vertical
Finishing Times - 8-16 Hours
The GORE-TEX® Grand Traverse is an unsupported backcountry ski race. The equipment racers carry into the backcountry is crucial. Each team must be independently prepared for a 24-hour bivouac. Due to the length of the course, varying conditions, and the number of racers, all participants must be prepared to be self-supporting in any and all situations.
Top Contenders - 2015
    Brian Smith

1.  Team Smith/Wickenhauser - Gunnison, CO
          Winners in 2014, 2012 and 2010.  This being an odd year I think they'll have to wait till next year.  They say Wick has a diesel engine, once he's warmed up, watch out!  Wick has great course knowledge.  He's not only racing but organizing the race as well.  A great Smithy memory is watching him charge up the first climb at mach speed, dropping the entire field (including his teammate Wick) with Wick screaming at him to slow down. 

                                                                 Bryan Wickenhauser

2.  Team Brown/Laird - Gunnison CO/Crested Butte, CO
          Like Team Smith/Wickenhauser, these hometown boys have a vast knowledge of the course (remember, 40 miles in the dark!) Jon and Billy (aka Billian) have both had an amazing year racing SkiMo.  Both were USSMA National team members who raced in Switzerland.  JB went to World's to "train for the GT".  He's been racing SkiMo since the first COSMIC season almost 10 years ago. Laird came out of nowhere (with Michael Hagen) to almost take Kroger/Simmons' podium spot in 2012.  They call him the Pit Bull.  Don't underestimate him. 

                                                                  Jon Brown and Billy Laird


3.  Team Thomson/Krar - Crested Butte/Flagstaff, AZ
          Thomson of "From the Road" fame tied the knot this winter (Stevie Kremer).  This newlywed won the race in 2013 with partner Tom Goth.  The last I saw of him in the 2013 race he was marching away to victory with a broken pole.  This is ultra-runner Rob Krar's first year on the SkiMo scene.  He is the Leadville 100 2014 champ (2nd fastest time ever). 

J Marshall Thomson
Rob Krar

4.  Team Hamilton/Simmons - Durango, CO

           This is Hamilton's first GT.  I've completed the race 3 times.  I finished 3rd in 2012 with Chris Kroeger.  Like Krar, Paul is an ultra-runner.  He finished 2nd at the Speedgoat and 1st at The Rut in 2014.  Paul is using the GT to train for Transvulcania, an 83k running race in Spain this May.  After Paul beat me up the 3,000' Engineer Mt climb by 20 minutes I asked him to partner up  for the GT!

                                                                           Paul Hamilton

Scott Simmons 
     There are usually some dark horse teams out there as well.  The report is fast and firm snow with warm temps.  Pick the finishing order of these four teams (and the winning time for a tie-breaker) to win some Scarpa swag!  Email your answers to;

Saturday, February 28, 2015

World Championships 2015

  I once again qualified for Team USA  and was psyched to join the team at the World Championships in Verbier, Switzerland.  What an amazing venue nestled high in the Swiss Alps.  Verbier is recognized as one of the premiere "off-piste" resorts in the world. 
The races that the team will be competing in are as follows:

       One of the highlights of the week was watching the Vertical race.  This race had a real Tour de France feel to it.  The crowds were huge and energetic.  The race came through downtown Verbier before finishing high on the mountain. 
  • Eric Carter: 39th
  • Rory Kelly: 40th
  • Jon Brown: 50th
  • Billy Laird: 63rd
  • Matt Burgunder: 69th
  • Lindsay Plant: 14th
  • Meredith Edwards: 25th
  • Jari Kirkland: 30th
Individual Race
My first race of the week was the Individual.  I had a disappointing start as a fellow racer skied over my ski at the gun.  This knocked off my skin and as I stopped to place it back on the ski I found myself at the back of the pack.  I struggled up the steep start climb and finally came to the verdict that I needed to take the time to stop and put a new skin on. Eventually I got in a rhythm and was able to catch and pass 17 racers on the first climb.  I continued to pass people to finish a disappointing 55th.  My worst results to date.  This took the wind out of my sails and I wasn't thrilled about the prospect of racing the Teams Race in two days. 
Men ~ Individual
  1. John Gaston - 27th
  2. Jason Dorais - 33rd
  3. Tom Goth - 39th
  4. Scott Simmons - 55th (painful...)
  5. Matt Burgunder (Espoir Division) - 78th
Women ~ Individual
  1. Lindsay Plant - 20th
  2. Jessie Young - 23rd
  3. Sarah Cookler - 29th
  4. Meredith Edwards - 30th
Hanging with a spanish World Champion ~ Kilian Jornet
Team Goth/Dorais
Team Carter/Simmons
Eric Carter and I skied a solid race with no difficulties (apart from me attempting to keep up with Eric on the skate ski section of the course) Eric was a collegiate skate ski racer.  The Swiss spectators were numerous and loud! We came across the line in 19th place. 

Men’s Team
  • Tom Goth / Jason Dorais
  • Max Taam / John Gaston
  • Scott Simmons / Eric Carter
  • Teague Holmes / Jon Brown
Women’s Team
  • Lindsay Plant / Jessie Young
  • Meredith Edwards / McKenna Douglas
  • Sarah Cookler / Jari Kirkland

#1 Fan ~ Crazy Kate
Tom Goth, Scott Simmons, Jason Dorais, John Gaston

The Dorais Brothers

European Feed Zone ~ Hot tea, cheese and rolls!

Team USA and Fans

Post Race Downtime with Glen Plake

Glacier Action

"A Very Dangerous Area"
(and they're not kidding....)
Quinn rocking his new Scarpa skinsuit in Chamonix. 

 Getting a little culture per my wife's orders....
A big thank you to Chad Brackelsburg for coaching Team USA.  Thank you to Pine Needle Mountaineering, Scarpa, Julbo and Tailwind Nutrition for their support this season!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Part II Wyoming RoundUp ~ Jackson Hole


Jackson Hole
I led the first climb and felt great on the low angle terrain.  I was caught by Jason, Tom and Marshall on the icy, tricky steep skin through the woods.  Max Taam came into the picture after the 1st descent.  He passed me for the final time on the 4,000' descent (top to bottom JH).  Max proceeded to pass Jason Dorais.  He came from behind and missed the W by 5 seconds to Tom Goth.
Excited to travel to Verbier, Switzerland and race with Team USA. 
Men's Top 8 Qualifiers 
Jon Gaston
Tom Goth
Jason Dorais (Scarpa)
Scott Simmons (Scarpa)
Max Taam (Scarpa)
Marshall Thomson
Eric Carter
Jon Brown (Scarpa)
Its no coincidence that half of the top 8 were skiing Aliens.  Look for the new Alien 2.0 coming to a race near you soon! 

Stevie Kremer
1st Place
Working hard for Scarpa
Thanks to Tailwind for fueling me and Pine Needle Mountaineering for keeping my skis race ready! 
All the support helped me finish 3rd overall at the Roundup. 
Photo Credits
Mark Gocke
Joe Risi
Jason Dorais
Wild Snow

Wyoming Randonee RoundUp

Headed north to Wyoming with GO CB team member Jon Brown and CB "Hardman" Billy Laird for an exciting weekend of SkiMo racing.  Temperatures were pushing into the 40's, a stark contrast to -25 the last time I raced in WY.  No finish line frostbite horror stories this year.
The RoundUp included a Saturday race at Grand Targhee followed by a sprint race at Snow King Resort.  The grand finale was held at Jackson Hole Resort.  All 3 races were qualifiers for the World Championships to be held in Verbier, Switzerland, February 6-12, 2015.  This guaranteed a deep field with racers aiming for peak form. 

Setting course with Jon Brown @ Grand Targhee.
Billy Laird catches his first glimpse of The Grand!

It's getting harder to crack the to 20.  Above are the top 25 all within 30 seconds of each other, five minutes in!
Grand Targhee
The Salt Lake boys, Tom Goth and Jason Dorais (Team Scarpa) were battling it out with Team Scarpa's Durango representative (myself).  The three of us were together at all but the last transition.  Jason attacked the final, steep climb in impressive fashion and pulled off the W. 
Everyone managed to survive the treacherous descents on icy, choppy bumps.

Simmons leads the first climb.
J. Marshall Thomson
Impressive paceline early on.
Billy Laird ~ Looking Fresh
1st - Jason Dorais
2nd - Tom Goth
3rd - Scott Simmons

1st - Stevie Kremer
2nd - Lyndsey Plant
3rd - Jessie Young

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Irwin Lodge Race ~ Crested Butte Backcountry

Race Division –  5000ft of elevation gain/loss, 10 miles and a three loop race course.
 The Venue
The day started with a 10 mile snowmobile ride to the venue.  This was the first qualifying event for the U.S. Worlds Team so the competition was stout.  All of the top racers in the country were present.  A very fast start.  I lead until we reached tree-line when Marshall Thomson joined me.  Marshall led the first downhill until imploding on a dip ("early season conditions exist").  I came into the transition zone 20 seconds ahead followed closely by Jon Gaston.  The three of us stayed in this order until the bootpack.  Marshall and Jon caught me at the top as I was struggling to get back in my bindings.  I caught back up and led the second downhill until Jon predictably passed me about a third of the way down.  Jon took the W and I skated in a minute behind followed by Marshall.  It was a great 3 way battle the entire time.  Excellent skin-tracks and challenging, soft descents.  Had a blast snowmobiling the ten miles out and towing Team Pine Needle Mountaineering at Mach speed behind us. 
 The Course
 The Transportation
 (if you don't have a snowmobile)
 The Support
 Lots of lightweight gear to be found.
 Durango's Team Pine Needle Mountaineering
(Jen Gersbach, Miles Venzara & Nick Gould)
Team Pine Needle dialing it all in (pieps, shovel, probe, helmet, skins....).
Giving it!
"Team Mommy" Skins Up
 Course Marshal Colby
 Feed Zone Colby
Dicing it out with J. Marshall Thomson.
 Finish Line Chit Chat
1st Place ~ Jon Gaston
2nd Place ~ Scott Simmons
3rd Place ~ J. Marshall Thomson
Why didn't you get first Dad?
Women's Results
1st Place ~ Lyndsey Plant
2nd Place ~ Jessie Young
3rd Place ~ Nikki LaRochelle
Thanks to Elk Mountain Events and Scarpa/Trab!  Congrats to all who raced!
Photo Credits:
Quinn Simmons
Kirk Haskell
Kevin Krill