World Championships Wrap Up


Piancavallo, Italy.  The 2017 World Championships of Ski Mountaineering have come to a close in Tambre/Piancavallo, Italy.  Team USA wrapped up the championships with strong performances in the Sprint and Vertical races before closing out the event during the Team Relay event.  Team USA finished 6th in the overall team standings – its highest ever finish at the World Championships.  


The highlight of the final days of competition and perhaps the entire Championships came when Quinn Simmons collected a bronze medal in the Cadet Sprint Race.  Simmons, 15, Durango, CO, turned in two strong performances – first in the qualifying round where he achieved the second fastest time and then in the semifinals where he won his heat – in route to qualifying for the finals.  Amongst a highly competitive field, Simmons started strong and was the first competitor to the top if the diamond before being overcome on the bootpack.  The fifteen year old Coloradan hung on tough during the last stages of the race to cross the line third.  Simmons’ performance made him the first American male of any age to medal at the World Championships.  

Also competing in the Sprint races on Monday were, in the Cadet Girls category, Morgan Fortin, and in the Cadet Boys category, Henry Haines and Henry Boyd and in Junior Boys category, Ian Clarke, all of whom narrowly missed out on qualifying beyond the preliminary round.  

In the Senior Women category, three of four Americans made it to the quarterfinal round, Jessie Young, Najeeby Quinn, and Michela Adrian.  Anne Gonzales just missed out on qualifying despite a strong performance.  

For the American Men Eric Carter was able to move beyond the qualifying round and into the quarterfinals in an incredibly talented field.  Carter hung tough in his quarterfinal heat, but ultimately missed out on moving into the semis.  Max Taam, Rory Kelly, Scott Archer and Cam Smith all skied well and showed incredible resiliency and toughness throughout the day as freezing rain blanketed athletes and the course.


Photos: Mark Smiley


Tuesday brought better weather and the Vertical Race.  First across the line for Team USA was Morgan Fortin in the Cadet Girls field.  She was followed by Quinn Simmons in the Cadet Boys.  Simmons finished 9th in a strong performance following the previous days effort.  Henry Boyd and Henry Haines were next across the line in the Cadet Boys race in solid 17th and 18th place finishes.  The cadets covered 485 vertical meters during the race.  

The Senior Women and Men along with the Junior Boys started further down the mountain and had to cover 560 vertical meters to cross the finish.  Kristi Knecht of Flagstaff, AZ, started strong and finished even stronger passing five competitors along the final 300 feet to finish 15th with a time of 32:20.  Knecht led the US Women across the line with Janelle Smiley, Jessie Young and Nikki Larochelle following her in 20th, 25th and 28th respectively.  In the Senior Men’s race no one was able to keep up with Killian Jornet of Spain but American John Gaston, Aspen, CO, was not far off.  Gaston continued a great performance at these World’s by finishing in 11th place with a time of 25:49.  Not far behind him were Mike Foote, Eric Carter, Tom Goth and Cam Smith coming in 26th, 27th, 36th and 43rd.  Ian Clarke competed in the Junior Boys field and again raced strong in his first ever Vertical Race.


Photos: Mark Smiley


Wednesday brought the final day of competition.  Amidst bright sunshine the Team Relay played out with US Teams racing strong against the world’s best.  A mixed Cadet Girls, Cadet Boys and Junior Boys team saw Morgan Fortin, Ian Clarke and Quinn Simmons ski strong in icy morning conditions.  The Senior Women’s Team of Janelle Smiley, Najeeby Quinn and Jessie Young stayed with the lead pack for much of the race ultimately finishing in 8th place.  The Senior Men’s Team of Max Taam, Mike Foote, Rory Kelly and John Gaston played leapfrog with a few nations throughout the race before finishing in 8th.  The relay consisted of a 80 meter ascent, a 70 meter descent, a 85 meter ascent through the Sprint course and ending in a 85 meter descent.    


Photos: Mark Smiley


In the overall competition Italy was able to hold on to the top spot despite a strong performance by the Swiss on the final day.  Switzerland came in 2nd followed by France, Spain, Austria and then the USA.  Russia, Germany, and Andorra rounded out the top nine.

After eight days of elite competition, difficult conditions and trying weather Team USA is ready to relax, recoup and celebrate a great World Championships.  Team USA’s performance has caught the attention of all the nations competing here in Italy.  The 25 athletes that competed along with the staff and support crew of friends, families and spouses proudly represented USA Ski Mountaineering and is excited about a bright and successful future for USA Skimo.  

Click her for more great photos by Mark Smiley.

Go USA and Ski Uphill!