The GB women have had an exciting early start to the race season this year with a number of podium appearances already.
Firstly a very warm welcome to our newest member, Ursula Moore, who has only been with us for a few minutes but has already won a race! She joined the first race of the Inaugural Skimo Scotland season at the Lecht and sped around several laps to victory. The course looked really fun and was blessed with good weather and snow cover. A complete mixture of racers turned up with some on lightweight race kit and some on trusty old ‘heavy metal’. Well done team member Diahanne Gilbert for making the series happen. It would be really great to see more women in the subsequent races. There are some super prizes up for grabs, and if any mums, professionals, ski bums, grannies or teenagers feel like dusting off their heavy old ski touring kit and having a go they would be very welcome indeed.
Another welcome member to the team this year is Janine Frost who lives in the Ski resort of Arolla in the Swiss Alps. Janine is a mum of 2 and has been juggling childcare with race training with very successful results. She is no stranger to top level racing and we have high hopes for her in the World Championships this year, particularly the Vertical (uphill only) race where she will be hot on the heels of the very fastest women. She has so far been concentrating on competing in the Swiss Cup night race series which takes place in her home region, and she has already been alongside Swiss female superstars on the podium. Well done Janine!
Janine(left) Coming 3rd in the Verbier Vertical race.
I had a week of training and racing in the Alps in early January with some of the men’s team members Jon Morgan, Ivor Ligertwood, Chris Barnes and Es Tressider. We started with a shake-out race on the 6th Jan in the form of The French Championships at Areches in the Beaufortain region. It was not a very gentle introduction to the season, in fact it was a formidable field including the world and European champions as well as the champions of several nations. For me it was a bit early, having had only one day of uphill ski practice under my belt in the weeks prior (I do guiltily confess that this was because the early season powder had been so amazing that I discarded all virtuous plans of uphill training in favour of a week of downhill fun on fat skis).
It turned out to be a tough race, with all of us agreeing that the climbs were never ending and the descents were a massive leg-burn. The total vertical ascent was 1800m over 25km. The first Brit over the line was Chamonix local Carron Scrimgeour with a magnificent time and 23rd senior male . Es blew the cobwebs away and came in 50th , with Jon, Ivor and Chris not far behind. I found the race a killer and took 16th female overall, in a rather more leisurely time than the boys, and 4th Vet.
No rest days were allowed and the Chamonix club coach Yann Gachet (holder of the Chamonix Zermatt speed ski tour record) took us for 2 days training. Most of it was spent racing each other around mock race circuits at Flegere for 2 days. I spent most of this time in an exhausted lactic stupor, feeling very rusty and failing to get to grips with my new race kit set up.
Still no rest and that evening, straight after the second day was the Relais de Chamois. This is the annual race of the Chamonix team and is a night race relay in teams of 2. I teamed up with seasonnaire triathlete/ ski legend Michelle Blaydon at short notice. She had 4 minutes to try out my spare race kit, during which time she probably decided it was a really bad idea and she wished she was somewhere else, but then the gun went off and we started 3 laps each up and down the world cup slalom run at Les Planards. She was amazing and had just the right background of aerobic sports/quick transitions and excellent ski technique. We won first female Vets and some lovely prizes.
Still no rest and the next 2 mornings were spent on downhill technique with Bastien Fleury, a ski coach from the Chamonix club, who was a little tired from a 3 hour ascent of the Aiguille Verte the previous day with his ski buddy Kilian Jornet. He taught us to forget most of the technique we had ever learned and had us high speed side slipping down cruddy ice with our boots open.
The weekend brought a choice of races, one shorter race in the morzine area and one long race at Doucy-Valmorel which was also the French Cup and the Haute Savoie championship. Carron and I chose the longer French Cup race, in order to get as much mileage and training value as possible from the week and I was very happy to win first vet female, although I didn’t really feel great during the race, which was a monster 2100m vertical ascent over 20km. Ben Bardsley won first Vet male in Morzine at the same time, a good day for the team results.
Coming soon we have the World Cup, the world Championships and hopefully the Pierramenta (if we are selected) fingers crossed!
1st vet female at the Doucy- Valmorel
Well we wanted snow, I think we definitely got snow!