Lake Louise Ski Resort hosted the Ken Jones Classic on March 25th and 26th, 2017 which served as the Canadian National Ski Mountaineering Championships this year.
The Sprint Race took place on Saturday. This was the first Sprint race that Lake Louise has hosted and only the third race of this style in Canada. I really like Sprint racing, so I was happy to see it added to the line up! It is nice to have two events in the same weekend to make the driving worth it and to get more experience in the different styles of ski mountaineering racing.
The weather was mostly ideal, with sunshine and snow alternating throughout the day. In my time trial the light got a bit flat, but for the final it was nice and sunny. The course was built on an off piste ski run, meaning that it was not on groomed terrain. Most of the typical aspects of a Sprint race were included: low angle climbing on skins, steeper switch backs, a boot pack, more skinning and a descent around gates to the finish.
In this Sprint, as in most, the start was very important to get into a good position up the skin track. I like the feeling of exploding off the starting line and then settling into your climb. Above you can see the Canadian Team Members out of the starting zone with Kylee in the lead, Lori Anne in second and Michelle in third.
We followed the green flags up to a platform where we had to transition to boot pack. The speed of each transition matters a lot in this style of race. Small mistakes can easily make one lose a race. Your position in each of the transition zones is also important. Kylee had a good lead out of the boot pack and into the final skinning section to the top. I was not able to keep up with her, but I managed to stay in front of Michelle at each of the switchbacks.
The top of the course was up near the fence you can see in the photo above. I did a double rip transition. A double rip is when you rip off both skins at the same time. It is a new skill for me this season. This secured my position in second. I skied a clean race to the bottom through the developing ruts and to the finish line.
Gold medal to Kylee Ohler, Silver to Lori Anne Donald and Bronze to Michelle Katchur Roberts.
For the men, Joel Desgreniers took the gold, silver went to Travis Brown and bronze to Peter Knight.
If you are a Ski Mountaineering racer and have not yet done a Sprint Race, I highly recommend it! It is fast, exciting, and really develops your skills.