22 February, 2011

World Championships 2011, Vertical Race

Today was the Vertical Race, here in Italy, which was held in the Piacavello ski area.  Every Country that was attending was out going after the highest position possible, and North American's were no different.  Both the Canadian and US Team dropped the hammer to wreck themselves on what was possibly one of the most technical Vertical races I've seen.  (Photo Below:  Junior Females start)

The course itself starts off in a nice flat area, the hill it runs up slowly get steeper and steeper until it tops out in the clouds.  In the center of the course, there is a technical skinning section full of switchbacks that would require good strategy, and also a bootpack which racers were forced to transition at the bottom and top of.  The bootpack is what made and broke some racers, but everyone wasn't expecting how fast they would top out, as the course was a mere 540m of elevation gain.  Typically, a World Cup sanctioned Vertical race would be somewhere in the range of 1100m, but today was a bit different due to poor weather conditions.  (Photo Left:  Junior Women's Leader Axelle Mollaret (FR) on the bootpack)

The Senior Women's race started off hard, with Canada's Melanie Bernier leading the entire course for the first section of the climb.  A neck and neck race overall, but in the end Meira Miro (ESP) pulled up front and put a big gap on the others, with Laetitia Roux (FR) on her heals.  The gap was fairly large up front, but after third position came the battle was on.  A huge congradulations to Janelle Smiley from the USA placing 7th, Melanie Bernier finishing 15th, and Julie Matteau finishing 23rd.  (Photo Right:  Melanie Bernier (CAD) finishing the last 100m stretch)

The Senior Men's race was extremely intense.  Yannick Buffet (FR) led the race nearly the entire way, with Killian Jornet Burgada (ESP) on his heels, until the top where Killian hit the gas just edging out Buffet at the end.  An incredibly high paced race, the Canadian's finished with Reiner Thoni 34th, Andrew McNabb 41st, Stano Faban 53rd, and Steve Sellers 61st.  The USA's ringer to the vertical race was Greg Ruckman finishing an incredible race at 14th, congrats Greg!  (Photo Below:  Canada's Reiner Thoni on the last 100m of the Vertical Race)

Overall, the race was a huge success, although the visibility could have been better (all part of ski mountaineering).  While looking back on last year's performances, the overall consensus, is that North America is quickly catching up to the European's, and we are quickly building a strong contigency to wage war on the World Cup.  Tommorrow will be the Sprint race, a new format to the Ski Mountaineering World Cup.

Full Results Here.

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