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


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


  • 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

World Ski Mountaineering Championships - Sprint Race

It was a great day for Team USA. Today was the Sprint Race and the team had a great day.

The sprint race race course was fantastic. I as long in distance with some icy sweeping corners. The US had 9 racers in the sprint

  • Jesse Young
  • McKenna Douglas
  • Jari Kirkland
  • Sarah Cookler
  • Max Tam
  • Matt Burgunder
  • Andy Dorais
  • Colin Cares
  • Rory Kelly

Sprint Course in Champsec

US Women’s Team lined up for the qualifying round start

The racers were able to have a leisurely morning with a 10:30 AM start following the Junior and Cadet divisions. The Sprint Race consists of a time trial style qualification round followed by a 5 heat quarter finals, 2 heat semi-finals, and finals round each with 6 racers. The men’s course had 75M ascent and women’s course had 55M ascent. To get an idea of the speed of the top racers, the winning men’s and women’s time were both 4:13.

Jari Kirkland

Sarah Cookler

The women excited about making the quarter finals

Andy Dorais (finishing 24th overall)

Max Tam on the climb

Max Tam ripping the descent with Matt Burgunder in the background (finishing 30th overall)

Official Sprint Race Results - The US had lots of great finishes with 2 men and 3 women in the top 30.

Saturday is the Vertical Race. The course is fantastic as it winds through the streets of Verbier and then ends at the top of their main gondola. The race does not start until 4pm so the team will have plenty of time to recovery from today and scout out some of the rest of the course.

Views of the Team scouting the Teams Race course today.

USSMA Athlete Representative Results

Thank you to all who voted in the survey for the male and female athlete representative for the USSMA board!  The votes are in, and I am very happy to announce that Janelle Smiley and Teague Holmes will be joining the USSMA board as the male and female representatives.  Both Teague and Janelle are terrific candidates for this position, and together they will bring a wealth of knowledge and a true love of the sport to the USSMA.  These two will serve as the speaking voice of the racing community in decisions made by the USSMA board, and we truly look forward to what they will bring to this organization as we move forward.



World Ski Mountaineering Championships - Day 1

It has been an exciting week so far in Verbier. The Team started trickling in on Sunday. Verbier had been treated to a large storm (over 70 cm) over the weekend so the skiing has been amazing. The avalanche danger has been very high so the touring has been limited to low angle terrain. There have been numerous avalanche accidents and deaths in the last week so you can tell that that people are definitely on edge.

The Opening Ceremonies of the World Champions were today. As usual, there was a large parade of athletes through the village of Verbier followed by the obligatory speeches. Unfortunately, we were all standing outside cold for 2 hours during this. The team had a great day touring the Individual, Vertical and Sprint courses before the ceremony and enjoyed the social atmosphere of the ceremony itself. Everyone is now settled into our hotel in Martigny and getting ready for the next 6 days of very hectic race schedules.

The races that the team will be competing in are as follows:

The overall race schedule is here.

Race Maps/Descriptions

We will continue to blog daily and post to our social media sites during the day. You can follow the US Team on Social Media at

Some photos from today

Scott Simmons skiing 5500’ back down to Le Chable after checking out the Individual Course

Scott flying Old Glory with pride on the streets of Verbier

Team USA in the Parade of Athletes through the village of Verbier

The St Bernard’s watching over the opening ceremony speeches

Part of Team USA making new friends


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