Sunday, March 24, 2013

2013 Ken Jones Classic

The Ken Jones Classic was the final race of the 2013 Ski Mountaineering Competition Canada Season. After a really hard weekend at Kicking Horse (racing on Saturday and Sunday, banging off a lot of gondola laps on Friday and Sunday), I gave the body a rest with only a couple of days of XC skiing, and a couple of days at Lake Louise checking out the course.

Course: The course involves some of Lake Louise's best descents when considering both steepness and ski quality. As well, I find the length and order of the climbs to be very conductive to racing. The longer first climb separates things, then there are a couple of shorter climbs to jostle around in, and then the long final climb where you need something left in the tank. The descents were all memorable. In Whitehorn II F gully, Eric, Brad, and I were all skiing close together at the same time and sluff balls were pouring down the chute from wall to wall. In Brownshirt main, we were ripping and putting on a descending clinic for those on their second descent. Elevator shaft was skiing great and the slalom through the rock garden was fast, with the final placings on the line!

Off we go!
The treed section at the beginning of the last climb was interesting with some thick forest and lots of traversing outtracks and a meandering skintrack. Our train made a wrong turn, but fortunately we realized our mistake early (no green flags = off course!). A couple of misses on some high speed corners on the descents (they were marked better in previous years), fortunately that didn't change the outcome too much, for us at least!

Engine: I kept my pace steady even though there were times when it felt like I was about to get dropped by Brad and Eric. Although Brad got away near the end, I had enough left in the tank to shed Eric near the top of the last climb, but not enough time or gusto to catch Brad.

Ooops, wrong 'Eric Carter'
Gear: My gear was dialed this year. No skin failures in the cold weather. I used goggles for the first time in a long race because of the cold, and they worked well. My only gear issue would be one that probably plagued many others: my water froze. This could have been combated with a different hydration strategy. Platypus bottle in suit pocket or Camelbak system inside of suit?

Technique: My transitions were good and that kept me in the race, closing the gap before climbs and descents. Very FEW botched kickturns but I would prefer that there be zero botched kickturns. I was able to stay in there on the descents as well.

Okay, so I (R) survived the fast first climb, now time to prepare for another 1.5hrs of battling! photo: Chris Mosely.
TSN Turning Point: After racing together for the entire race, Brad snuck away and put in a sizeable gap on Eric (who got caught in a tree) and I (who was fiddling with water to fuel up before the last climb). When we finally emerged from the trees and Brad was back in sight, I was impressed with the damage he had done! I then turned up the pace to shed Eric, but could not close the gap to Brad. We all made mistakes, Brad was strong.

Behind us, Nick and Stano were duking it out, and I'm sure we'll hear more about that on Skintrack.comresults

I enjoyed a great afternoon filled with lots of Paradise laps. It was a great season. Thanks to my parents, the race organizers and sponsors. I am looking forward to 2014.

With a summer mountain bike season on the horizon, it is time to rest. I am looking forward to the spring skiing season and hopefully I can make some turns in some cool places around here. Ta Ta For Now

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