March 31, 2008:
VertFest Alpental 2008 has come and gone, and once again I wasn't a part of it. My new job is cutting into my ability to ski on the weekends, but it should leave me with a bigger block of time to ski midweek, so I'm stoked. As usual, my ski friends who I can't keep up with did very well, Seth Davis finishing third in Men's Race just behind the Traslin brothers from Vancouver, BC, and Monika Johnson stomping most of the men to win Women's Race, with Holly Walker-Davis in second.
Here's Kevin's brief description via e-mail:
"Well, I made the top 15. Guess I need to work on my aerobic capacity, or desire to induce pain. Was pretty maxed out on first lap, but eased back slightly on second lap. I was heading up under Sessel, and was even with Monika. Probably should have tried to hang with her. Pretty solid crowd. 96 people. Managed to win $200 dollar coat in the raffle. All in all a pretty good scene."
Seth passed national team rando racer Scott Coldiron of Spokane on the final hill to take third, not a small achievement. Kevin Curd came home in 15th, but would have made top 10 if he'd used my F1/Trab Duo Sint Aero setup like I suggested :)!
Here's a link to the results
March 27, 2008:
Spring has sprung, and with it comes snow. We spent Wednesday at Alpental doing a combination of lift-served and self-powered skiing, and managed to get in so me very worthy powder turns. Word has it that the same thing is happening in the Alps, with Chamonix getting about 2 meters of fresh last week. Since I'm headed to Europe on Tuesday ski the Haute Route, I'm hoping that the weather and snowpack will stabilize over the next week or so for our tour.
If you have any interest in having a bunch of fun with some other backcountry skiers while getting a really good workout (and probably coming home with some nice schwag as well), consider doing the Alpental VertFest Randonnée Race this Saturday. Martin Völken and crew will once again set the course and run the proceedings. Day-of registration begins at 8:00 AM at the lodge, with the mandatory race meeting at 9:00 and the race set to start at 10:00. I won't be racing, but my skis and boots might be.
March 24, 2008:
Backcountry skiers are notorious do-it-yourselfers, but some of my friends just can't keep from modifiying their gear. In this case, Rick Knowles is obsessed with having the lightest pair of Scarpa F1's in this part of the country, going to great lengths to shave grams (lots of grams) off his race boots while maintaining a high level of skiability. He's replaced the upper cuff with carbon fiber, replaced the instep buckle with a power strap and the OEM tongue with vinyl, and machined out the rear lever on this particular pair, getting the weight down to 867 grams per boot (they started out at 1350 grams). Check it out.
March 14, 2008:
. . . your 2008 World Cup Alpine Overall Champions, Lindsey Vonn and Bode Miller, as well as Giant Slalom Champ Ted Ligety! This unprecedented success in a world usually dominated by European über-skiers breathes a breath of fresh air into the alpine scene. For Lindsey Vonn (ne: Kildow), it's a case of both the reigning queens of the FIS like Renate Goetschel and Anja Paerson slowing down a bit and Lindsey's natural skills evolution fulfilling its potential - she's taken over as the most powerful speed event female skier on the circuit, winning the downhill title for 2008 and finishing 6th in the Super G, as well as 2nd in the Super Kombi (combined).
As for Ted Ligety, his natural ability in the technical events, that once seemed to be concentrated primarily on slalom, has translated to a spate of GS results over the season. The guy is just lightning fast, and seems able to run a straighter line at the gates than almost anyone else on tour.
Bode? Probably everyone knows something of Bode's story - how he "fired" the US Ski Team and went off on his own, hiring his own batch of coaches and continuing to stay in his motorhome while on the European circuit. Party animal or not, he has the most incredible innate talent of probably any athlete on tour, and simply got the job done this season, coming on strong in the second half of the season with a first and second in the Kvitfell downhills, an amazing second at the Hahnenkahm while skiing off the fence at the Steilhang, and convincing Super Kombi wins at Kitzbühl, Chamonix, and Val d'Isere. Here's a old video of Bode losing a ski and skiing most of the rest of the course on one ski - to the delight of the crowd and consternation of his coaches!
March 2, 2008:
The World Ski Mountaineering Championships just finished up in Switzerland a few days ago, and while it's always cool to see elite caliber athletes at their max, it can be a little demoralizing when you realize that these rail-thin super-athletes are basically running up the hill for hours on their skis. I tend to watch the videos for clues that will help me speed up my own transitions on my own little touring expeditions . . . Interesting to note is that most of the racers seem to be using the new ATK toepieces that don't require you to pull up on the lever to lock the toe. After you watch the one Italian guy fall out of his ski three times in about 100 feet, though, you begin to wonder if the old-school Dynafit toe might not be more reliable? Florent Perrier, who pretty much ruled the event now that his bud Stéphane Brosse has retired, appears to think this to be the case, as his skis are mounted with regular toes. I guess if you're consistently 30 seconds ahead of everyone else at the transitions, you have time to pull up on your toepiece.
Closer to home, the Crystal Mountain OR Vertfest was held yesterday, with many of the usual local suspects entering (but not me, due to early afternoon work commitments). Seth Davis, Lowell Skoog, and Monika Johnson, who all rode in one car, held down fifth, sixth, and seventh overall in the race division, and Paul Russell come home in 13th. Winner Benedikt Boehm is a German national team member who is also a Dynafit factory tester. Nice work, team! Here's a link to the results.
Previous Incoming Pages:
"Incoming" covers developments that have personal interest to me (ie. gear I might consider acquiring, or events I feel may impact the sport of skiing) - it is by no means meant to be a comprehensive enumeration of gear or events in the ski world at large. Feel free to contact me via the randosaigai.com link below with news or images that may be of interest . . .
© 2008 Gregory C. Louie