World Class Skimo Racing near WildSnow HQ — Power of Four this Saturday

Post by blogger | February 25, 2016      
Winners John Gaston (right) and Max Taam at the last high point in last year's Audi Power of 4 2015 skimo race, on Richmond Ridge looking east at the Independence Pass region of Colorado.

2015 Power of Four Winners John Gaston (right) and Max Taam at the last high point, on Richmond Ridge looking east at the Independence Pass region of Colorado.

If you’re in the Aspen, Colorado area or can get here this weekend you are in for an athletic treat. Power of Four skimo race is happening Saturday, with amazing competitors. Last year the Aspen local Gaston & Taam team cleaned up a win with a rather astounding 23 minute lead. Experienced skimo racers took third and fourth spots.

Beyond the overall fun of spectating this contest (see our 2015 coverage), what was interesting last year is ultra runners Rob Krar and Mike Foote got fourth, 33 minutes off the lead. One has to assume the ultra guys have engines the size of fighter jets and only lost time due to their downhill skills. Thus, perhaps they’ve been practicing their 60 mph straightlining on skimo race gear? They’ll be back — and perhaps a force. More, we have possibly disruptive competition showing up in the form of other ultra-running teams, namely Anton Krupicka and Joe Grant. I’m telling you, this will be good.

We are of course rooting for our home teams. Namely Gaston and Taam, along with the guys from Cripple Creek Backcountry.

Only problem is that skimo racing here in cowboy country doesn’t have the jumbotron continuous live view you get in other forms of ski competition. Spectating is a DIY affair and rather humorous at times as unless you’re at the finish it’s tough to track what’s going on (the racers do have GPS tracking, so check website). But you can get a read with a spectation strategy, and being at the finish gives you an exciting few minutes as each team comes in. To that end: The race start is 6:00 am at Snowmass, but since you can’t drive to the start (bus shuttle) it’s probably best to skip it. (Typical of how North American skimo races seem to deny the existence of spectators, sigh…)

Instead, last year doing our first spectator stop at the Aspen Highlands base area was fun, as the racers are getting fairly worked and spread out by the time they come through the Highlands aid station. If you’re at Highlands by 7:15 that should be sufficient for seeing the first guys come through. Next, head over to Aspen Mountain, where you can either hang out at the finish, or get a one-ride gondola ticket and watch the racers top out their last climb, the brutal Midnight Mine uphill that caps the course total of 11,600 vertical feet (yes you read that right). To watch the top-out you’ll need to ski tour out about a mile south on Richmond Ridge, so you won’t make it back in time to see the first guys reach the finish. Insider hint: fully 4 boot pack climbs this year should make transitions a key element in the contest, along with icy piste descents and thin snow on the Congo Trail.

Be at the finish by 10:30 to be sure you catch the winners coming in. They’ll probably be there a bit after that, but if the course is super fast and the weather good, minutes could be trimmed from the course record. Announcer at the finish will keep you hip to where the racers are. CU there.


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20 Responses to “World Class Skimo Racing near WildSnow HQ — Power of Four this Saturday”

  1. TimZ February 25th, 2016 1:08 pm

    Where do you see 4 bootpacks? The map: only shows the one(yellow) at the top of the highlands

  2. Lou Dawson 2 February 25th, 2016 1:15 pm

    Insider told me there are 4, and three last year. Typical race information (grin)?

  3. TimZ February 25th, 2016 1:38 pm

    Well that’s annoying, if their are multiple it should be shown to help with race prep. Hopefully it’s clarified at the checkin(I’m racing on Saturday and all I’ve got to go off of is the map so far)

  4. Lou Dawson 2 February 25th, 2016 2:03 pm

    Tim, I’m pretty sure it’ll be the standard deal where you are given the beta on Saturday morning, as you know it’s sometimes only at the last minute that all the course details are known. The published map a few days before a race is only a general idea of the course. Even a quick weather event the morning of the event can change the course minutes before the start, or delay the start. Lou

  5. TimZ February 25th, 2016 2:15 pm

    For sure, I’m well experienced with courses changing the morning of or day before 😉

  6. andrew February 25th, 2016 2:48 pm

    don’t just assume ultrarunners are bad skiers. i’ve skied with Foote before – he is a great skier (and has some ski patrolling experience)

  7. Brian February 25th, 2016 3:17 pm

    Would love to see Ben True try his hand at skimo someday. Has a great skiing and running background. Would guess he’s a better skier than any other American pro runner.

  8. Lou Dawson 2 February 25th, 2016 3:19 pm

    Yeah, good point Andrew. I hope I didn’t imply that 100%, but I do know from race reports last year that one of the reasons the ultra guys didn’t do better as they needed to keep the pace on the down. Many high level skimo races are actually competitive in the downhill skiing skills, as everyone’s engines are pretty similar. That’s an interesting part of the sport most people are not aware of. It’s quite fun to watch the downhills, provide you can figure out where to spectate it. Lou

  9. Lou Dawson 2 February 25th, 2016 3:22 pm

    I’d add that if Foote has some ski patrol experience, perhaps he skis downhill too slow (grin)? With due respect to Foote.

  10. Bard February 25th, 2016 4:36 pm

    Yeah, Taam and Gaston are studs. They cleaned up at Wasatch Powderkeg last year, winning sprint, elite, and team. Incredible! Does Killian ever come to these things, or is he too busy in Europe?

  11. Lou 2 February 25th, 2016 4:38 pm

    We want Killian. But he’s probably busy in Europe… we are not worthy (grin). Lou

  12. Bard February 25th, 2016 4:39 pm

    Sorry, Kilian only has one L.

  13. Lou 2 February 25th, 2016 4:58 pm

    Whoops, that’s like spelling God with a small g!

  14. Bard February 25th, 2016 5:23 pm

    Haha, exactly Lou, figured I better get that one right lest the skimo Gods may strike me down:)

  15. Pablo February 26th, 2016 7:35 am

    Lou, respectfully, the real world class skimo race this weekend is the Altitoy Race in the french Pyrenees very near to the spanish frontier.
    A Spanish-French organizated race, valuable for Skimo World Cup and there’s where Kilian Jornet and others first cass racers will be this week-end.

    It´s gonna be hard and fun because weather forecast is about 70-100cm/24h in this área

  16. Lou Dawson 2 February 26th, 2016 7:39 am

    Hmmm, well, there can be two “world class” races happening during the same weekend, right? On the other hand, the World Cup race does take precedence, no disagreement there. But you must let us meager Americans attempt to climb out from the press of European superiority (grin).

    Seriously Pablo, how about a link?

  17. Dave February 26th, 2016 10:30 am

    Lou any advance beta on how boney that ski between snowmass and west Buttermilk is?
    Thinking the south facing bit could be nasty given recent warm dry sunny spell.

  18. Steve February 26th, 2016 11:28 am

    Brian – good point on Ben True, skiing is really his background. Can you imagine if Sage Canaday ever became a skimo convert?!!

  19. Lou Dawson 2 February 27th, 2016 5:18 pm

    Gaston and Taam win again, set course record. More as we process photos. Was a fun event as always. Thanks all participants and volunteers.

  20. Pablo February 29th, 2016 9:12 am

    Hi Lou, there’s a link to a friend’s blog. My friend went to the Altitoy race, racing the amateurs trace. The blog is in Spanish but is plenty of nices pics form inside the race.

    This is a very nice Blog to explore backcountry skiing in the Spanish Pyrenees, as my friend show lots of routes with great detail and pics.
    Hope you like it:

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