The following race report is courtesy of Skimo Canada team member Alex Wigley via www.skitheory.blogspot.com
Another race done for the Ski Mountaineering World Championships 2011, the Sprint Race. The Sprint is a fairly new event in Skimo racing, but really encompasses every skill into one lung busting 120m climb, with a fast downhill and skate ski section. (Photo Below: Josef Rottmoser during his insanely fast sprint race)
The course start with a 40m climb that is fairly low angle, to a 20m switchback section, into a 20m bootpack, then another 20m climb, transition and downhill into a slightly uphill skate ski. Transitions, racing, and descending times are always expected at around 3-4 minutes. The more technical a racer can be the more time he/she can shave off of this short course, but don’t forget the mega power endurance that comes from training for specificly for an event like this.
The race starts with racers being sent off every 30 seconds, running solo on the course, and trying to hit their top speed for a cutoff for a quarter final round, semi final, and final round devised of six heats. The best way to describe it would be to do some long intervals, that would have bootpacking, switchbacks and transitions, at your best pace or until you taste blood. (Photo Below: Melanie Bernier (CAD) in the Final Heat)
The fastest times were unbelievably fast, as the long distance enduro athletes North America produces, wasn’t up to par with the Sprint Specialists that Switzerland, Germany, France, and Spain brought. That being said, Canada’s Melanie Bernier was the exception (again). Mel, came blasting out of the start gate, making it into the Semi Finals right off the bat. In the Semi’s she then led out of the start, resting slightly on the bootpack, but then tearing by the rest of the women in the transition gaining three positions putting her into the Final Heat. In the Final heat, she started out strong, but when the Women who had been training specifically for this event put on the gas she just missed a high level finish. Coming in at 5th, is the best result for North America at a World Championships ever (which was recently broken yesterday at the Vertical by Janelle Smiley placing 7th). A strong race for Mel, and another step up for North America!