The sprint race is 75-90 meters of vertical gain and consists of low angle skinning, kick turns, a boot pack, some more kick turns, and then a hairball downhill leading to a short skate to the finish. The rounds start with a time trial and the top 30 move on to heats of six with the top two from there moving on to semi finals and the top three from those heats to the final of six.
I had a fairly clean race during my time trial and was seeded 27th moving into the quarters. I felt recovered and strong. The start however, was disjointed and frantic as I was expecting a formal "track command start" but instead reacted to my fellow racers reacting to a sudden gun. No worries, I would just attack hard from the start, or so I thought. In reality, I pushed beyond my coordination and clumsiness won the day as I got tangled in a pole and went down hard, 20 meters from the start line. Any dream of moving on was now dashed as well as any realistic hope of beating one or two of the higher seeded Euros.
I got up, and heeded Sam Inouye's rallying cry of "Onward and upward!" I was able to make contact with one or two guys in some of the transitions but worked really hard to end up butt naked last in my heat. Again, or so I thought. As it turned out, one of the fellas just in front incurred some time penalties and I was moved to 5th in my heat and 24th overall.
I have learned a couple lessons here which are pretty obvious.
Overall, the US did well with Max Taam also finishing in the top 30 and the three women also making the quarter finals. The senior men's final was won by Robert Antonioli of Italy, followed by former world champion Josef Rottmoser of Germany, and a Swiss athlete took bronze. Also noteworthy was a really strong finish by Canadian friend Melanie Bernier, who took 5th.
After the sprint, we laughed about how dumb I looked on the ground, shook it off a second time, and then went skiing. Verbier is absolutely stunning and could almost get me into riding lifts...at least to get out into the wild terrain beyond the ropes (although just about all the terrain within the ropes is also really wild).
Teague, Billy, JB, and I took the necessary series of gondolas to the top of Mont Fort to have a look around. Our minds were collectively blown.
The next day, we woke up early to try and catch the 7 AM train to head out farther beyond Mont Fort. We even ran to the train station so we wouldn't miss it. As it turns out, the first train from Martigny on Saturday departs at 8:24 AM. Plan B was a bus and Plan C was to hitch hike. After neither proved successful, we headed back to the hotel to eat breakfast again.
En route, we were stopped by a kind gentleman inquiring about our skis. We explained our deal, and after some pleasantries, he invited us to his house for tea. We walked across the street to a rather beautiful house, shared some tea and chocolate, and found out that we were sitting in the home of the former President of Switzerland, Pascal Couchepin. He talked to us about international politics, meeting the Clintons, Romney, Putin, and others.
With that as an interesting start to the day, we decided to try and go skiing a second time.
|We all got up early to catch the 7 AM train|
|Scott Simmons looking mighty fancy at the President's house|
|Jason and Mr. Former President Pascal Couchepin|
|Attempting to head out to ski for the second time|
|If only we could read French this would be so much easier|
|The fellas nearing the summit of Mont Fort|
|Jason on the summit of Mont Fort|
|We skied off the back of Mont Fort and finally left the resort, although it's tracked like the Wasatch|
|The avy danger is high enough to keep us off anything steep so we found perfectly flat terrain instead.|
|The flat led to the gentle slopes of Rosablanche, a mellow classic tour from Verbier.|
|The tour is mellow but the gnar isn't far away|
|Dream lines for days|
|Jason along the summit ridge of Rosablanche|
|Big Teague topping out|
|We skied out another valley and found this Dam line|
|Early in the Vertical Race with the young German Palzer leading it out.|
|Killian ended up with a dominant win.|
|Rory Kelly, new to ski mountaineering, was the second American behind Eric Carter but both put in fantastic efforts.|
Tomorrow is a rest day, which means more skiing, which means it's time for sleep.
|Lindsey Plant was the top American woman finishing in 14th in a solid field.|