World Ski Mountaineering Championships - Relay Race and Final Awards

Thursday was the final day of the World Ski Mountaineering Championships and it ended with the always fun to watch Relay Race.

The team had another very early morning to catch a 6:30 but and get to the race.  The team warmed up while the Youth Relay Race went on.  The US Women were 1 of 7 teams competing in teams of 3 in the race.  Our racers were Meredith, Sarah, and Jessie.  We knew our largest competition would be the Canadian Team. Meredith was our first racer and had the challenge of keeping up with Canadian Mel Bernier.  Meredith did a great job keeping her within ~40 seconds.  Meredith handed off to Sarah who was able to catch the second Canadian racer and get a ~15 second lead on her.  Sarah handed off to Jessie who continued to increase the US lead giving the women a 5th place finish for the US's highest finish of the week.

A very excited 5th place women's relay team

 

The men’s race had 12 teams and it was sure to be a very competitive and close race between the top teams.  Our US Men’s Team consisted of Andy, Colin, Teague and Billy.  The men were excited to try to keep up with the women by beating a very strong Canadian Team.  All of our men had a great race, but were not quite strong enough to hold off the Canadian team.

The 2015 US National Ski Mountaineering Team

 

Overall Women's World Champions (3rd: Maude; 2nd: Axelle; 1st: Laetitia)

 

Overall Men's World Champions (3rd: Anton; 2nd: Killian; 1st: Robert)

 

Overall Team Awards - The US was 10th (Coach Chad is third from the right)

As is customary after the closing ceremonies there was a huge party with free flowing wine and beer, dancing, music, and other mischief.  The team enjoyed themselves enough at the closing ceremonies that we won't share those photos.

The US had some of our best ever finishes with several men and women in the top 30 as well as some of our best finishes in races. Here are links to the results

For additional photos of the races, please check out the ISMF Facebook page, USSMA Facebook, USSMA Instagram, USSMA Twitter, as well as the Facebook pages and blogs of our US Team.

World Ski Mountaineering Championships - Teams Race

The Teams Race is one of the best races of the World Ski Mountaineering Championships. This year’s course was going to be amazing. The men would climb almost 2200M and the women would climb almost 2000M. The descents were steep and rocky. The sun had come out on Tuesday so the course was also going to be icy in the morning. Things started a little hectic with the start being delayed 30 minutes to 9:30 for ice, then 30 at 8:35 the race start being moved back to 9:00. We scrambled to find all our athletes and get them warming up.

Men’s Team

  • Tom Goth / Jason Dorais
  • Max Taam / John Gaston
  • Scott Simmons / Eric Carter
  • Teague Holmes / Jon Brown

Women’s Team

  • Lindsay Plant / Jessie Young
  • Meredith Edwards / McKenna Douglas
  • Sarah Cookler / Jari Kirkland

All of the races started at a very fast pace and before we knew it they were almost to the top of the first 557M climb. After the women’s race started (15 minutes after the men), we rushed to Les Attelas to watch the racers on their second ascent. It was amazing to watch their pace.

Our men and women all looked strong at the top of the second climb. The third descent was rock and icy and all of the racers reported it to be a very challenging descent. This course was not for the faint of heart or those that were not very strong skiers. It was on this descent that John Gaston broke his boot in half. This only fazed him briefly and he continued to charge down another 1200M+ of descents with only 1 functional boot. There are not many racers who could have accomplished this.

From the finish line it was amazing to watch the racers come screaming down a solid ice run make 2 hairpin turns and skate hard into the finish line.

The Team had the best finishes we have every had in the teams race.

Men’s Team Finishes

  • Tom/Jason: 11th
  • Max/John: 15rh
  • Scott/Eric: 19th
  • Teague/Jon: 26th

Women’s Team Finishes

  • Lindsay/ Jessie: 6th
  • Meredith/McKenna: 11th
  • Sarah/Jari: 14th

Tom & Jason at Les Attelas

Scott and Eric at Les Attelas

John & Max at Les Attelas

Jon Brown at Les Attelas

Jessie Young at Les Attelas

Jason and Tom skiing to an 11th place finish

Meredith and McKenna happy to finish

Women's Team

World Ski Mountaineering Championships - Individual Race

Team USA had a great Individual Race on Monday.  Here are the official results.

Men's Team

  1. John Gaston - 27th
  2. Jason Dorais - 33rd
  3. Tom Goth - 39th
  4. Scott Simmons - 55th
  5. Matt Burgunder (Espoir Division) - 78th

Women's Team

  1. Lindsay Plant - 20th
  2. Jessie Young - 23rd
  3. Sarah Cookler - 29th
  4. Meredith Edwards - 30th

We were very excited as a team as these were the highest finishes for the group as a whole.

Start of men's race

 

Scott Simmons on descent 1

Tom, Scott, Jason, and Tom at the Finish

 

Sarah, Meredith, Jessie, Lindsay at the finish

 

 

World Ski Mountaineering Championships - Vertical Race

The Vertical Race is basically a ‘king of the hill’. This year, the Vertical started just below Verbier in Medieres and wound through the streets until getting onto the slopes at Verbier.  The race didn’t start until 4pm so the members of the team who were not racing were planning to make use of the morning off to either scout out their next race or to do some free skiing.

Andy, Jason, Scott, and Teague got up early, had a quick breakfast, realized they were about to miss the train and ran to the train station in ski boots and full ski mountaineering gear (ice axes, crampons, etc).  They had plans to ski off Mont Fort’s backside and over to Rossa Blanche.  Unfortunately, the 4 of them didn’t look at the weekend train schedule and they were an hour early for the train.  As they walked back to the hotel pondering what to do, they ran into an older gentleman outside a cafe that they were considering going into.  He told them he was protesting the facility as they had just raised their prices.  Since they were all in the USA Team jackets, ski boots, and carrying skinny skis he asked about racing and invited the 4 of them to his home for coffee.  They eagerly obliged since they had an hour to kill.  It turned out that the man’s name was Pascal Couchepin and he was the past mayor of Matigny (where we are staying), held several other political offices, and was eventually elected to 2 terms as President of Switzerland.  The boys were definitely awestruck as this would never happen in the US.  They enjoyed a good conversation and coffee with their gracious host and then were off to catch their train.  They enjoyed a great tour with fresh powder and beautiful views, then were on their way back to cheer on Team USA at the Vertical.

For the men, Eric Carter, Rory Kelly, Jon Brown, Billy Laird, and Matt Burgunder would be racing.  For the women, Lindsay Plant, Meredith Edwards, and Jari Kirkland would be racing.  The members of the team who weren’t racing lined various sections of the course ready to cheer on our teammates.  All of the team looked strong as they passed through the streets of Verbier. Many of us jumped on the gondola to get to the top to cheer on the team as they finished. The number of people lining the streets and the finish line was amazing.  In the US we may have a handful of spectators, here there were thousands!  It was an amazing scene to watch the finish line with the mobs of people, the sun getting low in the horizon, and the amazing Swiss 

Alps surrounding us.

As was expected Killian Jornet absolutely crushed the course climbing 850M in 39 minutes (check out the ISMF FaceBook page for some great photos and videos).  As the racers crossed the finish line, the were collapsing in piles and being drug off to the side by the officials.  The finish line was complete carnage.  The US had a great finish with the following placements

Men

  • Eric Carter: 39th
  • Rory Kelly: 40th
  • Jon Brown: 50th
  • Billy Laird: 63rd
  • Matt Burgunder: 69th

Women

  • Lindsay Plant: 14th
  • Meredith Edwards: 25th
  • Jari Kirkland: 30th

Our next blog will be Monday after the Individual as Sunday is the Junior Vertical and the US does not have any racers in this event. 

 Photos from the Vertical Race

Eric Carter

 

 

Billy Laird

Matt Burgunder

 

 

Lindsay Plant

Meredith Edwards

Jari Kirkland

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