Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Ken Jones Classic - Pan American Championships

With World Championships happening every 2 years, there has been a push to get a continental championships going on the other years. The idea is that the venue will alternate between Canada and USA. This year, it was Canada's turn (Crested Butte in 2012, Wasatch in 2016, etc..).

The three day event took place at Lake Louise with a vertical race on Friday, a sprint on Saturday, and an individual race on Sunday. Going in, I wanted to focus on the vertical and have a good result in the individual, and I wasn't too concerned with how the sprint would play out which would be beyond my control. So I skipped the sprint.

The vertical race took place on the final climb of the Ken Jones classic individual course. Up Larch, through Rock Garden to Elevator shaft. This is a climb that I have suffered up many times with fatigued legs at the end of the races, battling with 1-3 other skiers. This time, we'd be taking it on with fresh legs and starting with the entire field!

After a comfortable start, it started to feel a little too comfortable...so I attacked. By the time I was caught, just as we reached the flatter section, there were just 4 of us in a front group, but my legs were hurting! The course finished with a single skintrack section so while I entered the pain cave early on, I didn't have to worry about passing, just about hanging on. Barely. In the end I finished 4th. I had a strong race but was regretting not pacing better.

Sunday's individual race started early and cold with not much time for a warmup. The race would be long with the ER5 bootpack added in (as it was in 2016), in addition to the rest of the normal course! I let others dictate the pace and pretty much dangled in 4th place the entire race, seeing Rory in 3rd at skins-on transitions. With a strong bootpack, I had increased my grip on 4th place, but definitely was looking forward to the top of the final climb (the same climb as Friday's vertical race). 

The large field. Not only did a bunch of Americans come out, but it seems like there are more local guys donning skinsuits every year!

Grabbed a shotski from the bar to bring up onto the podium
The legs are happy the season is over but I'm feeling pumped for next year after keeping it together during the busy March schedule.

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