Continuing in the same vein of highlighting local talent I thought I would do a quick post on a few local runners that are among the very best in the nation at a winter sport. Before I get to them let me back up and explain why I've decided to write about them. Since the beginning of December I've taken some time off from running to try and heal some nagging issues I've been dealing with for quite awhile (future post on this). The prescribed exercises weren't nearly enough aerobic activity to keep me satisfied so I decided to try something new, Skimo racing, short for ski mountaineering.
For those that are unfamiliar with this sport I'll do my best to quickly explain it even though I am far from an expert. Basically skimo racing involves ascending a set route on skis, descending to a certain point and repeating often. The skis will have glue backed nylon hair strips affixed for climbing called skins. When the skier reaches the top of the climb the skins are ripped off and stashed for the descent. Upon reaching the bottom the skins are reattached for the next climb. The process at the top and bottom is called the transition and requires great skill to be swift. Sometimes the skier is required to remove the skis while climbing and hike up, this called a boot section or booter. Like many great sports this form of moving fast and light through the mountains has been around in Europe much longer than North America and consequently they many more races and racers. One particular fast guy is Killian Jornet, maybe you've heard of him.
This weekend is the World Championships held in Pelvoux, France and the U.S. team has a few local guys lining up against the rest of the world. They include Tom Goth, Andy Dorais (filling in as qualifying alternate to his brother Jason Dorais) and coach Chad Brackelsberg. Luke Nelson isn't a Utah resident but does plenty here in the Wasatch to be claimed as a local. Check out any of the links in this paragraph to learn more about the World Championships and the athletes paths to get there, they're all great stories.
I've known Andy and Chad for a few years now and they always encouraged me too come out and try a skimo race but I was always too intimidated to try one of the big races like the Wasatch Powder Keg, directed by Chad. Then I ran out of excuses when Chad, Jason, Andy and the SLC Samurai, Jared Inouye started the Citizen Series. Now in it's second year, there are anywhere from 30 to 60 skiers showing up on Tuesday nights at Brighton ski resort to race up and down the mountain. The races are usually right around an hour long and they're free. The participants include skiers on full race gear to "heavy metal" touring gear and the scene is very friendly and encouraging. I've done a few now and feel like I'm getting my aerobic fix while learning how to move a bit quicker in the snowy mountains.
I think it's super cool that Chad, Jared, Andy and Jason (sorry if I've missed someone) have taken the impetus to grow the sport they love and teach others about it. Hat tip to you gentlemen and thank you for all your hard work in putting the Citizen Series together. To those on the team good luck in France!