Wednesday, February 11, 2015

2015 ISMF World Championships: Teams Race

Today was the Teams race at the 2015 ISMF World Championships.  To me this is one of the marquee events as the course is always the longest and the most technical.  It also throws into question who will win as some incredible athletes are neutralized by a lack of depth from their countries.  It can be hard to align racer's strengths and weaknesses in climbing and skiing speeds.

This course started just above the town of Verbier and climbed in total just over 7500 feet.  The scenery was dramatic with the racers climbing and descending Mont Gele three times from various aspects.  The US was represented by four teams of men and three of women.  The men's teams were Jason and Tom, Max and John, Scott and Eric, and Teague and Jon.  They would finish in that order.  The women's teams were Lindsey and Jessie, Sarah and Jari, and Meredith and McKenna.

After some confusion about a potential change in the start time, everyone warmed up briskly and then lined up with the fastest ski mountaineers in the world.  The start was incredible to watch as the guys out front were double poling and almost skating with their skins on.  That didn't last long though, as the course turned steeply upward on an icy track.

I skied over to the gondola, positioned myself up high, and yelled my voice hoarse for our team.  It was a hot day and everyone worked themselves over and placed proudly.

Jason and Tom should be psyched as they were the highest placed North American team in 11th.  I've seen them put in the work and am super proud to be able to chase these guys around the mountains in everyday life.

John and Max placed in the mid teens and likely would have done even better if John hadn't had a gear malfunction and a smoldering respiratory illness.  Those guys are probably the only ones on the team that can match the Euros on the descents with this lightweight gear.

Scott and Eric were the next US team, also placing in the top 20.  Scott was rocking his 1980s "Blades of Glory" white spandex suit, while Eric was more muted in his dark blue USA suit.  Both were strong and looked like they climbed and skied well together.

Jon and Teague are both super strong but unfortunately they have opposite strengths and weaknesses.  They ended up 26th but did so with heart and style.  Teague even skied switch across the finish.

I didn't get to see the women race since I was running around yelling at Jason.  From what I hear they all skied strongly and finished 6th, 11th, and 14th!

Time to feel like you're gonna die

The Italians were the class of the field

Jason and Tom finishing the last climb up Mont Gele


Jason and Tom

Finishing a proud 11th in the world

Some Swiss TV interview that I made sure to photo bomb 

Teague crossing the line in style

The top American women, Lindsey Plant and Jessie Young (6th place!)

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