Credits go to Chamonix Ski Alpinisme coach Yann Gachet who managed to ski faster than us up and down with the video camera in hand and Nuno Caetano,the one and only Portugese ski alpinisme racer, who compiled the video. This gives a taste of the Pierra and all it's glory!
Thursday, March 18, 2010
The Pierra Menta marked its 25th Anniversary this year. It is one of the oldest ski mountaineering events in history and by far the hardest thing I have endured apart from child labor.
The race takes place in the heart of the ski alpinisme region of France- the Areches- Beaufort region, home of the famous Beaufort cheese. If you have never tried it, I have plenty as I won a huge chunk for our 9th place finish! It is good stuff and the cows are really beautiful!
Stage 1: 7am start . rise and shine early: 5:15am. 2847 meters climbing (they said only 2600!) 20 km, 7 climbs, 4 bootpacks, temp: -12...snow: boiler plate. I felt super strong on day 1, but Lynds did not. We all have good and bad days out there.
Stage 2. 7:30 Start. This was a killer day. I felt lousy. Stomach bug or something. The altimeter topped out over 2910 and the GPS was 37km's (7 more than they said) Literally, this stage felt like we went to the end of the world and back! It was so long and very hard mentally. We hung in there though and finished. I seriously felt like I could sleep like a bear in hibernation for a year.
One cool thing about the PM is the camaraderie of athletes throughout the 4 days. Another cool thing is the massage therapists who volunteer their time in exchange for lodging and lift tickets. Each athlete receives a 30 min massage after each stage- and this really does help with the recovery. Recovery is so important. I try to have a recovery drink within the first 15minutes of finishing a stage and then it is an ice bath, shower, followed by a good lunch and good stretch/ yoga session. There are 3 posses which are great for the legs. Shoulder Stand or legs on the wall, kneeling and leaning back to stretch the quads and of course resting pose!
Stage 3: This is the best day out there! No matter how tired you are from the day before your energy comes back because there are so many people out there cheering for you. Thousands of spectators wait in line to ride the lift at 5:30 am and then skin another couple hrs to the top of the Grand Mont. They bring pots of fondue and vin chaud, flags and harmonicas, cow bells and accordions. Let me tell you it is a site to see for sure. When we pass through the crowd of thousands of people cheering it is quite a feeling! This day's stats were: 3 pierra menta stats: 2762 meters climbing over 4 climbs, 4 boot packs(skis on sac) sun, wind, cold, Another long one...
Stage 4: Last day and the shortest stage. Lynds and I started out easy with the first climb of over 1000 meters. Stats: 1740 meters, 14km. 3 climbs. This one we had fun on the descents and skied fast, doing what we do best and finished in good style with an overall place of 9th for women. We were thrilled to be done.
Total Stats: 4 days of racing over 16 hrs, 10,359 meters climbing, + 95 kms. (33,987 feet!)
The first year, we were thrilled to finish the event. We said once is enough but entered again last year because it was a world cup event. This year we entered again and are once again so glad to finish and even prouder to be in the top 10. A Swiss coach once said, "To merely finish the Pierra Menta is a feat, and to be a woman and finish the Pierra Menta is really something!" So, hats off to my partner Lynds for getting through it together!
And thanks to all of you who were supporting us along the way! Thanks to all those who were there from our Chamonix Alpinisme Club, Julie, Daniel and especially our coach, Yann Gachet, cheering us on on day 1 and 2. It was great to have such a strong presence at the Pierra Menta with our young Chamonix Ski Alpinisme club with 3 teams this year! Next year, I just might be one of those spectators at the top of the Grand Mont cheering the rest on with a glass of vin chaud and a cow bell! Vive ski alpinisme!
Below is a small video of photos of the race:
Coming up! The season is not yet over! 3 World Cups still to come in April including the famous Patrouille des Glaciers. In the meantime a much needed rest at home with my family!
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Saturday, March 6, 2010
USA World's 2010 Ski mountaineering Team: Pete Swensen, Brendan French, Cary Smith, Molly Zurn, Ben Parsons, Max Tamm, Amy Fulwyer, Jari Kirland, Travis Schefer, Bryan Wik, Jared Inouye, Mona Merrill, Nina Silitch (missing junior member-
The Ski Mountaineering World Championships is coming to a close. Today was the nations relay. I had a chance to sit this one out and be a spectator for once which was super fun, especially as it was a gorgeous day. The relay event has to be one of the most exciting and a sure crowd pleaser. If we ever make it into the Olympics as an event, this will surely be a good ticket. The course was held at the top of a gondola, and was just 180 meters elevation gain over 2 climbs, one climb 120 meters and the 2nd, a short skin, followed by a boot pack and final skin. The course had 2 great descents as well.
Killian Jornet crashed and still managed to come away with the 3rd fastest overall time. Impressive!
What a site to see the top men and women. Cow bells were ringing, voices cheering in at least 7 languages ....."hup hup, allez, forze, venga, go, go..." It was great to see almost all the nations participating and helping this sport make more of a presence in the world. I continue to be in awe of the depth of the sport in nations such as Italy and Switzerland.
Roberta Pedrazini and Francesca Martinelli ( a mother of 2) of Italy, who have been doing this sport since they were teens and now are in their late 30's, are purely inspirational to me: they have the epitime of teamwork- syncranizing in stride together almost as if their skis are one.
Today in the relays, the USA women and men put forth a great effort with the women finishing 8th and the men 9th. The competition was fierce and we were in there! Way to go USA! For the final nations ranking the USA placed 9th out of 23 nations, a strong presence for sure.
I can not speak for everyone on the team, but I can speak for myself: Thank you so much to all of you that made it possible for me to be here this week. It was an unforgettable experience for me and an amazing
opportunity to be joined by 23 other nations, see this sport at such a high level and see the athletic prowess that so many individual entail. Bravo to all who participated and thanks the my fellow USA teammates
for making it such a fun event together!
Photo: Women's Team: Mona, Amy, Nina, Molly, Jari
We are all a part of the growing movement of ski mountaineering in the USA and one day we will look back on this and say we were a part of that in the early days.
Photo Video Hightlights:
Here is a little video I have put together with highlights from the week!
Or for the direct link to the web album click on the photo below.
If you are interested in viewing any of the official videos (they are great!) of the world championships click here:
What is on the rader coming up? For me, home to my 3 boys and a quick turn-around to
....The Pierra Menta- the most beautiful ski mountaineering race in the World- and the harderst- a 4 day stage race- also known as the Tour de France of ski mountaineering. I will be doing this for the 3rd season with my great friend and USA teammate Lyndsay Meyer.
Jari Kirkland and Nina at the finish of the teams race.
Almost 4 hrs of effort: 26 km over 2640 meters of climbing. 3 big climbs, the final one with a boot pack up and across a ridge. The weather was variable: at the start cold and windy but as the race went on there were moments of being super hot. The visibility was anywhere from flat light to clear. You never know what you will face in the mountains.
Jari is a professional mountain bike and adventure racer based in Crested Butte, Colorado. It is not always that two people who have never met before can jump into a team race together in a pretty grueling circumstances. Fortunately we made a great team, staying positive, encouraging each other and in the end having a really positive experience. This was both of our first ski mountaineering world championships.
Thursday, March 4, 2010
Here we are day 4, of the world championships, rest and recovery day for me. So much about this week and this sport is about how you rest and recover so you can stay fresh for the next race, tomorrow- the teams race which should be a fun and enduring event.
Yesterday was the individual race. Both USA men and women all put in great efforts in their race. The start was delayed 1 hr due to new snow and the course changed considerably- less technical. My impression of the World Championships is that they are far less technical than the Pierra Menta. Here is the course profile: For me, it was not a personal best, but I gave it my best shot for the day. Some days in sports, just as in the daily swing of life, we feel more "on" than others.
Thanks to fellow team mate Bryan Wickenhauser, who video'd the race yesterday I tried my hand at doing some editing and here are some shots of me in the race yesterday. It is nice to have some video to share with friends, family and others who have no idea about the sport.
For more updates on the World Champs: http://www.skimountaineering.org/
Training is a bit like a personal jigsaw puzzle, figuring out how to fit the pieces together- what is your background in sports, strengths, weaknesses, where you live, home, family, work, amount of time you have to train, what is your job like, age, injuries, how to recover- all these factors coming into the puzzle. It sure makes for an an interesting adventure.
With that said, in the big puzzle picture of life, gaining strength from these experiences is all the more empowering. I had a chance to watch Julia and Julia yesterday while recovering and taking my mind off skiing. Kind of funny about blogging too. It was a great example about finding something you are passionate about and living it. So, find your passion and live it.
As a Wild Roses athlete and ambassador, I would like to conclude with a thought:
"A womens life is not about climbing the highest mountain or being the first on top. It is about the passion of doing things for a greater reason. Life can be an adventure, but the greatest adventure is giving life meaning. What are you up to next? are you already working on a dream?" -Wild Roses - For Women by Women
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
Highlights so far from the World Champs:
The World Championships in ski mountaineering has been a goal for me this season and it is amazing that they are here already! There has been much hard work and preparation to get this far. I arrived in Andorra on saturday evening and met my fellow USA teammates who had arrived and were working on getting over jetlag. Here we are joined by 23 other nations from all over the world, some coming as far as China, Japan, Argentina and South Korea. All these countries are trying hard to grow the sport of ski mountaineering in their country so some day it becomes an olympic event.
Here is the Week Schedule:
Monday: Vertical race
Tuesday: rest and recon the ind course
Wednesday: Individual course
Thursday: Rest and recon team course
Friday: Team Race
Saturday: Team Relays
Here are some pictures and highlights so far from the week: (that is me in the USA star suit)
or link to this picassa album
For more details on the races, photos, results from the week this is a great link: