The Sprint Race took place on February 27, 2017. The first round each competitor goes through the course by themselves. Based off of qualifying time athletes are put in heats of 6. The top two from each heat move on from semi to quarter and then to the finals. The entire course takes under 5 minutes to complete.
The course involved 15 m elevation gain of low angle glide skinning, followed by 30 m elevation gain of steeper skinning in 7 diamond switch backs, 10 m elevation gain boot pack that was very slushy, then a 5 m elevation gain glide skinning into a downhill transition. The downhill is marked with gates. This 70 m descent was gated R, L, R, L, L,L, R, L, R, L, L, bump, bump, flat, bump, and then a skate slightly uphill to finish.
Being one of the first to go in the Women’s race meant my entire prep was filmed by a camera crew. It was very exciting! I still have not found if there is somewhere the race footage was streamed. If I do I will post an update!
The timing system we were using involved a chip strapped to your right leg. There was a clock counting down with lights to tell you when to go. I had never seen this before. I am glad that a familiar face was at the starting line to tell me what to do. Brent, one of our race officials from Canada was working timing at the start and finish.
In the practice lap before the race I had a really hard time in the diamond switch backs. You can go on the left or right or switch back and forth each time if you want. I decided to do a second practice lap so that I could try a different line. I am glad I did. For whatever reason, I had better grip on the left! I did this part well in the race.
I have never boot packed in slush before. It is much more challenging! This really demonstrated how you need to be able to adapt and keep charging in any conditions. I also see the value in skiing, skinning and boot packing in as many conditions as possible. With experience it all gets easier.
Just after this section I had my first crash of the race after the triple left gates. I lost my edges and my skis washed out sideways and I spun around hard on my left hip. I got back up, resumed my tuck and kept going.
I am not sure what rules they follow for the downhill gates. It is kind of like a Giant Slalom course with some skier cross mixed in, but flagged with snowboard gates.
You are faster when your skis are on the ground than when they are in the air. So I tried to keep my skis on the ground going over the first bump. You can see how much I am trying to absorb that bump!
I hit the second bump and had a big crash. I learned a lot from this crash and I am glad to have this photo to remember it by! I am still learning to control my speed. If you are really pushing the limits, sometimes you go over the edge of control. I like to ski aggressively downhill. This is partly because I like going fast and also because I know I am not as strong on the climb, so I need to make up the time in the descent.
In the end I placed 33rd. I missed qualifying to the next round by 10 seconds. If I had not have fallen I may have moved on, but there is no way to know. I need to work on my technique when climbing so that I can be more efficient and I need to work on my fitness so that I can be even faster. Getting used to more terrain and gate combinations in my GS skis and my Skimo skis will help in the downhill.
I did some very helpful downhill training at Whitewater Ski Resort with the Ski Team’s Head Coach Dylan and also with Guy Woods one of our local strong technical skiers. A big thank you to both of them! I was able to progress my knowledge of how skis work in large and small radius turns and how my body should move. We have identified many areas to continue working on for future seasons! I will definitely be working on ankle mobility, keeping my hips in line and staying weighted properly over the ski just to name a few.