Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Ken Jones Classic 2016

The Ken Jones Classic was the final race of the SMCC calendar and also served as the Canadian National Championships. With the death of the Dogtooth Dash, the Ken Jones Classic now stands with just Castle Mountain as a top Canadian course. The field  that assembled at mid mountain early on Saturday was one of the strongest to take on the course. Sure it was lacking certain racers of a bygone era hailing from Valemount and Revelstoke.

Strung out off the start. Interestingly enough, two skiers in the bottom of the picture would work their way up into the top 10.
I got my typical holeshot start and skied out front for what felt like an eternity, but in reality it was not even to the first switchback of the groomed ascent. Eric and Nick were battling all year from Canada Cups to World Cups. When Nick got on the front, all I could do was try and see how long I could hold on. My shins protested, but I hoped  the pain would go away, unlike last year. I settled into 4th behind Rob Krar.

The descents were skiing well, and the skintracks were well set. I was more relaxed on the 2nd climb, and could even watch the battle unfolding behind me. Ben was ripping the descents, and blew by me a couple of times in some tight sections. The 3rd climb consisted solely of a bootpack up into the ER5 zone, which has not opened for a couple of years.
Chasing Rob on the large bootpack of the 3rd climb.
The 4th and final climb up to the top of Elevator shaft from Temple Lodge is always hard. It is long and it comes late in the race. It is never really steep or technical, but it is important to keep the pace high on the flatter sections. Here I slowly faded behind Ben and Rob and ended up in 5th after skating the long skiout trail to the finish. I was hoping for a little more fight on the last climb, but I was pleased that of the 4 climbs in the race, I buried myself deeply on 3 of them. As the 3rd fastest Canadian citizen, I even got a chance at podium glory.

I'm impressed with the progress that I've made this season. Even though I've been doing this sport for a couple of years, and training for even more, there are still ways to markedly improve! Frequent readers will recall that last year I was a little worried about the large group of enthusiasts nipping at my heels; this year I was pleased to be racing for spots ahead of me.


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