February 4, 2015


The 2015 CROWBAR Ski Race Podium

Andrea and I headed up the northern Utah for the CROWBAR Ski Race last weekend. This was our first SkiMo race on our own gear - although that wasn't a huge advantage over borrowing, as we didn't really get the chance to train/practice on our new skis beforehand. Andrea's were mounted up the afternoon before the race!

Our new toys

CROWBAR (Cache Regional Overland Winter BAckcountry ski Race) is a really cool event. It's the only all-backcountry randonnee race around. Check out their website and this video to get a feel for what it's all about.

That being said, it was a lot harder than I anticipated! I expected to finish in ~3 hours... and it took me 3:43... I was a full hour behind the top female. Andrea did the rec division course (6 miles w/ 3000' of climbing) as she continues to try and play it somewhat safe in her comeback from injury/surgeries) and was the first female... only a few minutes behind a pair of young guys. She'd be the first to admit that she would rather finish lower in standings and be able to do the full race course against the top females, but that wasn't the smart move (for now). In any case, she did really well and was pleased with her effort.

I thought a 10 mile race with 6000 feet of climbing would suit my strengths (being an aerobic monster) and buffer my weaknesses (everything else - transitions, downhill skiing, etc). Boy, was I wrong about that! I lost so much time on the technical aspects and sort of gave up on racing relatively early in the race. I'm not proud of throwing in the towel, but I still got in a good workout and finished the course in one piece (despite a handful of crashes).

Finishing stretch

Some thoughts that Andrea and I talked about over the weekend, in no particular order...

-We tend to avoid the bad snow when backcountry skiing. We search for the good stuff. In a race, you have to attack the crud - on skinny skis! That's really hard, and sometimes downright terrifying if you aren't a very good downhill skier to begin with. Some lift served ski days would actually be quite useful.
-Getting used to the skinny skis will take some time.
-Expectation levels in competition need to be adjusted, especially for the first year of doing this. Being a faster runner than everyone else means absolutely NOTHING in SkiMo racing.
-Running is more important. It's not worth taking chances (on downhill) that would risk injury.
-I have a tendency to get frustrated and then downward spiral. I need to work on staying composed when I have technical / gear issues.
-We need to practice transitions and have a consistent system (thanks to Christian for that tip)
-These races attract really cool, interesting people. It's fun to mingle and get to know / talk to them.
-What is better than spending hours skiing around in beautiful mountains?
-SkiMo might be a sport where we enjoy the training more than the racing. That's OK. And it's OK to be more of a participant in the races instead of a top competitor. It's still a lot of fun.

We spent the weekend up in Garden City, along Bear Lake. It was really quiet up there this time of year. We had a nice dinner at the only restaurant open, and then on Sunday did a nordic-style ski to Idaho and back. The Bear River Mountain Range has a lot to offer, and isn't that far from SLC. We'll be back for sure.

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