The Rofan night race near here in Austria is basically a time trial up 1,000 meters vert, with a short downhill and another tiny uphill to the finish. The fastest do it in about 42 minutes. I was last in my age class (and just about last overall) at 1:11, but still happy as a clam since skiing up around 3,300 vert in just over an hour is a good enough take-home for this beat up body. Besides, I won a watch in the raffle and got a free can of Red Bull. The fat moon hanging over the Rofan was nice too, but after a while I wasn’t looking at it too much.
I’m not much of a randonnee racer — never have been — never will be. But I still enjoy trailing the occasional event. And doing one in Europe is a trip. It’s fun to see the mountain gazelles show up and drop into their bouncy and frankly intimidating warmup routines, my favorite this time being the sparkplug physique female who duck walked for 50 feet back and forth in the parking lot about a dozen times. I’ll pass on that technique.
The gear is cool too. Little tiny toothpick skis with Dynafit or ATC race bindings, lots of Scarpa F1 boots and even some F3s, all sorts of small mods for weight reduction, skin removal and the like. Of course a few guys show up on their regular backcountry ski gear — when I can’t pass those characters when on my borrowed race skis it’s pretty embarrassing, but I get over it so long as they’re 1/3 my age.
What’s fun is we do the race as a team: myself, Fritz and his friend Ricki. Since we’re the only mixed gender team we get to podium. I mean what’s a day of racing without a podium finish, even if you are the slowest? That’s why we call ourselves “Team Slowtech.” If we need to speed up, I make sure we slow down first. Works every time.