At the start I followed a nordic skier that was unfamiliar with the course route and got lost. Once on course I was about 5 minutes behind the leaders. By the time I caught up with teammate Bryan Wickenhauser and Pat Oneil at the front we were at the top of Goldlink, about an hour in. We all stayed together until 403 with Wick and Pat having skin issues along the way. Wick and I pulled away on 403 and I started having a skin failure on 403. I bridged back to Wick and we stayed together till Pittsburg. Once it became a skate race, I pulled away from Wick and ended up 5 minutes up at the finish. Pat was back about 8-10 minutes behind Wick. My winning time was 4:01, 2:15 longer than my winning time in the Super Tour last year! Everyone enjoyed the new course and the finish at the Yurt was a huge hit.
This past weekend we had the Power of 4 event from Snowmass to Aspen. We ski all four Aspen Mountains: Snowmass, Buttermilk, Highlands and Aspen Mountain. We cover over 23 miles and 11,000 vertical feet. This is a teams race with the same requirements as most COSMIC races-beacon/probe/shovel. Two years ago I won the event with my teammate Bryan Wickenhauser. Last year we lost by two seconds. This year we were looking for revenge from but needed to keep a flawless race to beat Aspen locals Max Tamm and John Gaston. John is the national champion and Tamm and Gaston became the first Americans to place top 10 in the teams event at the world championships.
Wick and I held the pace up Snowmass setting tempo for a lot of the climb. Descending off the resort we kept in contact with some hairball off-camber and tight tree descending above Buttermilk. About 5 minutes into the technical descent I went to pole plant and noticed 3/4 of my pole was missing. I had caught a tree with my pole and the bottom half vaporized! I was left with a single pole and had 5-10 minutes of skinning before descending to the TieHack lift. Unable to double pole up the bike path I was forced to run most of the way to Highlands. At the base area I was given a pole from lost and found, an alpine pole about 10 centimeters shorter than my other pole. The strap was broken as well. Having a pole gave me motivation and we pulled back 3 minutes we had lost from the pole break. We all stayed together to the top of Highlands Bowl. I caught a rock on the descent and crashed hard. By the bottom I had caught up to Wick and we skied together to the skin transition and down the Congo Trail. The Congo Trail is a luge type summer trail with fast switchbacks and tight 180 degree corners. This section is typically unskied with good powder to slow speeds down. This year it was tracked up with variable snow making slowing down difficult and the demands on the legs unforgiving. Neither of us crashed but probably hit close to 30 mph on that trail alone! We then had to ascend Midnight Mine road, a 5 mile long slog with an average grade of 5 percent-Ugh! I had no purchase with the alpine pole so skating was not possible. I had to skin up as Wick kept skiing away. Once skining I was back close to 2 minutes behind Wick. After about 20 minutes of plodding away by myself I made it back to Wick and we pushed our best to the top of Aspen. I had one brief crash on the way down but managed to hold it together better than expected. We ended up 6 minutes down and about 24 minutes ahead of 3rd place-teammate Jon Brown and Billy Laird. It was tough to miss out on taking win when it was a possibility most of the race but we knew going in it was going to take a flawless race to beat Gaston and Tamm.
So hear I sit on Sunday afternoon quite exhausted from yesterday's effort. I feel quite satisfied that we pushed the fastest talent the sport has to offer in the US. I feel confident in our form going into the Grand Traverse in 3 weeks. We are going to have our work cut out for us with the Gaston brothers, the Dorais brothers, Marshall and Tom Goth as well as other amazing talent we have here in the Gunnison Valley. Thanks for reading and stay posted for the upcoming Grand Traverse.