Thursday, April 29, 2010

Post exam week

Finished up 3rd year engineering,

2 races on the weekend, both weren't great, the legs are probably in need of some rest.

Then off to Canmore for some relaxation. Plenty of jobs here in the various shops, but are they "engineering related"?

Weather and Bill's work schedule (but not my training schedule...) cooperated as we were able ski powder in a top secret location where the skin tracks are already broken in, there is a warming hut at the top, and the powder is bottomless:

hammerred out about 1600m. Plenty of tip diving on my short 177cm Volkl Mantra (Too light for the 184 said Kevin from Out of Bounds, the worst ski shop in Edmonton, which is full of a bunch of mediocre shops)! Trying to think of the perfect all around touring ski, and they were right under my in my garage (Salomon AK Rocket).

Also found out that I am getting a free trip to Norway at the end of October to go launch rockets. Life is good, if only I had a job...

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Hardcore Big Ring

Starting off the MTB racing season early this year, you never know what to expect of your form.

The heavy hitters took off at the start and were long gone, but the battle was being fought behind. I rode away from the chasing group after working my way up to the front, and spent the rest of the race trying not to let them catch me. It worked out for me in the end.

finishing in 5th

It's fun getting back into the rhythm of suffer/recover opposed to the constant suffering of a skimo race.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Springtime in the Rockies

Nothing beats ending an active spring day like sitting outside on the porch in Canmore. Spring is my favourite time in the mountains: The trails have mostly melted, the snow quality and stability can both be excellent.

Skiing in the spring is equally capable of delivering your best day of the season, or your worst. "Freak" storms commonly bring in 30+cm's of the white stuff (you know the storms that always seem to happen on the weekend, cancelling any long bike rides you have planned). This isn't your Kootenay or Coastal cement, this is pure Rockies blower. True Rockies skiers have waited through a thin, unstable snowpack for this time of year!

On the flip side, freeze-thaw cycles create crusty, death cookie conditions but can lead to a stabler snowpack if there is a good overnight freeze, though stability deteriorates during the day as snow melts.

As a kid, I spent a couple of spring breaks west of the Divide skiing slush and dodging rapidly expanding patches of ground only to return to wintery conditions. We made a video of one such day, if only SRT would post it!!!!

What inspired this post? Well I am in Canmore right now. I've been mountain biking on dry and tacky trails, and checked off a couple of lines in the Dive (Milky Way, Steel Pipe, Galaxy 6) all in the same day. All I have left to ski are Cream (now open, just needs one more storm), an aesthetic couloir looming above sweet and low; and Starb$'s, a steep rock riddelled face.

Will the Town Gully get skied this year?

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Why I don't want to go HELL-icopter skiing

Some of the original readers of this blog may remember that I made this video:

to enter CMH/Arc'Teryx's "What Inspires you to Ski Tour" contest. I wanted to go ski touring with the legend himself, Greg Hill, and getting lots of Arc'Teryx gear would have been sweet.

When I didn't win, I was a little disappointed and wrote this.

Well that trip is happening as I write this. Another fan of Greg Hill actually decided to pay out of his pocket to join Greg on this trip. And unlike Greg, who has sponsorship obligations, this fellow can complain all he wants about the trip because he paid for it! His website is here.

Sounds like this trip so far has been just low angle tracked out glaciers, and the guides scold you if you climb too fast as none of the other clients have ever stepped foot on a skintrack and they don't even know who Greg Hill is!! WOW. Doesn't sound like much fun for any self respecting skier! This sounds nothing like the latest TGR or MSP movie!

Heliskiing can cost around $1000/day, and even helicopter assisted ski touring rings in at $500/day. To me, unless someone else is footing the bill, that is just a big waste of money. There are too many variables that can turn your "dream" vacation into a colossal waste of money: snowpack, fresh snow, other group members, etc... Why would you pay the megabucks to ski low angle glaciers if the snowpack sucks, ski over other people's tracks if there is no fresh snow, or spend all day waiting for a rich millionaire who has never skied before?

Cat skiing is a slightly cheaper alternative, but at around $300/day, it is still pricy, although the skiing is usually a little better.

Still a lot of money to be spending on one mediocre day of skiing. Why not buy some gear (lighter/fatter/stronger/stiffer/etc...), or go on a skiing road trip with a couple of friends?

In retrospect, I am glad I didn't win. I got to spend a weekend with some good friends, get some good turns and push myself to the limit in a Ski mo race. Heck CMH probably chose a gaper to win the contest because the majority of other clients would be gapers!

So this is why I will never pay to go heli-skiing. Let the rich tourist gapers "enjoy" that. Just keep on selling those CMH Volkl Explosivs.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Easter weekend: The Resurrection...

...of what? Winter was never dead!

Half price buffet Thursday at the Stoney Resort? yummy, it sure could have been my Last Supper.

Evening mountain biking session on Thursday:

Short day of ski touring on Friday. Man, what a Good Friday!

where's Waldo?

Ski Mountaineering Nationals on Saturday

Galaxy chutes on Sunday. If Easter eggs are white and granular then I found a lot of them!

More Ski Touring on Monday:

even did a bit of extra climbing so that we could lay down some Wiegele's on some low angle pow!

Keepin' it secular

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Skiing in a bike helmet and sunglasses

First race wearing a bike helmet of 2010 is in the bag.
enjoying my pre-race rituals

running still sucks

Slipped into 4th at the start while everyone was struggling to step into their Dynafits.

Started moving backwards on the steep section at the beginning of the 3rd climb, definitely feeling the extra weight I was carrying on my feet and got passed by 2 people in non-race gear.

Probably one of the hardest races I have ever done (right up there with 2009 MTB provincials in Hinton): there is no recovery, and you are on the max the whole time! Staying in control on the downhills requires incredible strength and endurance. Stopped caring about my transitions at the bottom of the 1st bootpack (just before the halfway point); it is more important to recover, drink, fuel.

Rolled in at 11th in 2:49, around 55 minutes back, got beat by a bunch of people on Dynafits (read light), and 1 strong telemarker! Not bad for the largest vertical I have ever done (1485m), my first race, and rocking more than 2x the weight on my feet.

I have lots of respect for the top ski-mo racers, not just because they are super good climbers, but they can hold it together on the descents even with that light gear! Usually when I am skiing, I try to find the powder, but while racing, you try to avoid it!

Here is how I think I can improve:
-more leg strength to lift my heavy setup.
-more long touring days, more hard intervals on shorter touring days.
-more non stop descents to help me ski with fatigued legs.

While I was Giv'er'ing out on the course, my friends were Giv'er'ing in another manor:

A really cool vibe for an emerging scene in Canada:
-$75 entry fee netted me some swag, two deluxe meals, lift ticket, temp. insurance and race. Kicking Horse and Golden Ski Mo. really stepped up!
-I showed up "late" for sign on, didn't get fined 200CHM, was still allowed to start. Probably half the competitors were "late".
-While there were lots of rules, they were presented in a positive way, they were not yelled at us! *cough*feedzone commisaires*cough*.
-Creative prize categories to involve all ranges of abilities

More fun and less bureaucracy is a great way to grow the sport! Definitely planning on racing more of these next year! Nothing like bringing a knife to a gunfight...