2011 Whitefish Whiteout Race Report

 Blogmasters note*** Many thanks to contributing writer and up and coming racer Brad Schalles for doing this race report. Congrats on your 4th place finish Brad!

 

On January 22, Whitefish Mountain Resort hosted the Whitefish WhiteOut with fresh pow and perfect bluebird skies.  Turnout was great, with just over 60 entries and 19 of the participants in the men’s AT Race category.

Due to the new snow overnight the 9:30 start time had to be pushed back to 10:30 to give the mountain safety team time to do control work on the course. A small slab avalanche, triggered by new snow overnight, had released in the race area and wiped out some course markers on the 3rd descent.

The gun went off at 10:30, and a furious pace quickly thinned the pack. For the second year in a row Goldenskimo’s very own Reiner Thoni got to the top of the first long climb in 28.37 to win a $100 cash prize. From the top of the first climb we skied down an easy blue run to the top of a steep mogulled slope that was quite challenging on skinny skis!

From there the course climbed up a steep gladed run with the fresh snow causing the skin track to crumble under each step – It was a total body workout to stay upright.  After a few more ups and downs racers were spit out at the bottom of a short gully that provided a calf burning bootpack where some of the steps were only deep enough for my toes to fit in! After the boot pack we headed down a quick descent still missing some flags from the slide earlier. One last transition and we were back on our skis and up to the top of the mountain. The race ended with an ascent which meant it was time to hammer.

I wasn’t able to see the leaders, so you’ll get play by play commentary on the heated battle for fourth. Yours truly had his eye on a fellow competitor and was able to pass him in a sprint to the line. Brandon French, a US ski mountaineering team member and local, won the men’s AT Race category with Reiner Thoni hot on his heels. Melanie Bernier, the reigning Canadian women’s ski mountaineering champion, won the women’s AT Race category and came in 4 overall.

The prizes at the race were truly fantastic and the  top three finishers in all 9 categories got a prize. Furthermore, the conditions were great, the people were friendly and the race was well organized. I would recommend this race to skimo racers of all ability levels. Come out to Whitefish next year and support this young sport, or better yet, head up to the next race on the Canadian circuit: The Sunshine 5000 in Banff on February 5, 2011.

-Brad

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