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