February 10, 2009 11:39 PM
The many races of winter
While Lindsey Vonn was making her mark at the World Alpine Ski Championships in France, Colorado ski races were attracting hundreds of amateur competitors over the weekend to at least three venues.
I was at Ski Cooper on Saturday, putting in a forgettable individual performance in a Teamski giant slalom course. However, this was a team race, as the name implies, and my team had a terrific day. We won!
This was no thanks to me; I'm on the B squad, and it was the Titans A Team that won. But as Titans captain, I got to walk up and accept the first-place plaque. Eat your heart out, Bode Miller.
Individual men's and women's winners were Jeremiah Hall of the Titans (permit me a small cheer) and Betsy Lhotta of the Sno Jets.
While I was relaxing with the plaque - and a beer and some wings - in the lodge steeped in 10th Mountain Division mementoes, racers at another of Colorado's smaller and lesser known ski areas were still at it. And they would continue to be at it through the night.
The 24 Hours of Sunlight would finish at 11 a.m. Sunday at Sunlight Mountain Resort near Glenwood Springs. In this race, skiers, snowboarders, snowshoers and even runners vie to complete the most laps in 24 hours. A lap climbs 1,502 feet up the ski slope and covers 1.4 miles.
Collectively, the racers competed 1,834 laps, covering a distance of 2,567.6 miles and climbing 521.7 miles of elevation gain.
Eric Sullivan, of Crested Butte, the eventual men's solo winner, completed his first lap in just 31 minutes. Each succeeding lap took a little more time on his way to completing 27 laps. Sullivan won this event last year, too.
Dina Mishev, of Jackson, Wyo., was the women's solo champion. In completing 23 laps, she also set a women's record of skiing more than 34,000 vertical feet.
In another individual feat, Eileen Wysocki, of New Castle, put in 17 laps on snowshoes, which I find remarkable given that she had to stride back down the course while others were sliding on skis or snowboards. I wonder what her knees feel like a few days later.
Wysocki put in 25,534 feet of elevation gain, reaching her goal of a Guinness world record for the most vertical feet snowshoed within 24 hours. This is pending approval from the Guinness Book of World Records folks, of course.
Winners were also named in several other categories, including 5-person teams. Wildsnow.com's Lou Dawson blogged live during the event, and his report is worth a read. His current blog on a World Cup Ski Mountaineering Race in Europe is a bonus.
Falling somewhere on the strenuous scale between my two 53-second-or-so runs down a giant slalom course and the 24 Hours of Sunlight is the Crested Butte Rando Race held Saturday. Racers in this event climbed 2,500 vertical feet in the recreational category or 4,500 feet in the race and heavy metal groups.
Brian Smith won the race category in two hours, edging out Peter Swenson, the organizer of these COSMIC races, by less than a minute. Monique Merrill won the women's race division.
If you've got the itch to ski your own race, you'll have to wait a year for the 24 Hours of Sunlight to roll around again. But Teamski and COSMIC will be at it again on Feb. 21 at Winter Park and Snowmass, respectively.