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Leanne Callaghan reports on the first 2 days of the Ski Mountaineering event of the year

Our new team suits arrived at the eleventh hour after being passed like a baton from the Italian Dolomites to here via various motorbikers, donkeys and hitchers. And they’re GREAT!!!!

The GB team have good reason to celebrate:  4 teams finished the team race event this weekend. Promising newcomer Ursula Moore and athlete Janine Frost did us proud and made it round the 25 km course in 4 hrs 28, just seconds ahead of the Belgian national champions Carolyn Goffin and Anouk Doore. Sadly Gaby and I were unable to race as Gaby awoke with a fever and vomiting that morning. There is always a silver lining though and this meant I was free to get my camera out and climb to the highest summit to support all the GB racers.

First to the top for the women were the superhuman French duo of Letitia Roux and Axelle Mollaret, who were faster over the finish line than any of the top GB men to finish in 2hrs 59. The GB men had some frantic last minute re- shuffles due to Jon Bracey also being struck down with flu.  First over the line were Es Tressider and Jon Morgan in 3 hrs 19 with Carron and Ben in hot pursuit. More disappointment followed for injured Ivor Ligertwood and he and teammate Chris Barnes had to abandon after having finished most of the ascent, but would probably have been 3rd Brit team otherwise. Well done to top British fell runner/ climbing legend Paul Cornforth for being drafted in as a reserve at the last minute to race with the experienced Kirk Wadsworth.

Next race on the agenda was the sprint, which, for the first time ever, saw a full team from GB with 4 women and 4 men. Normally we all dread this one as it relies on explosive running power and the ability to move like lightening uphill on skis; NOT something the Brits consider themselves good at, and definitely something that the snowy alpine nations ARE good at! It relies also on a certain amount of luck, route selection and slick equipment transitions. It is really fun to watch and is probably the discipline most likely to make it into the Olympics in 2020. Anyway we had a good race and Janine, Leanne, Gaby and Ursula were all very close and finished in times of 4.24, 4.27, 4.33 and 5.11. fastest woman went to Swiss Mireille Richard in 3.29, a whole minute ahead of the rest of us.  The fastest man overall was the powerful young German Josef Rottermoser in 2min35. Fastest GB man was Es in 3min35 then Ivor 3.47, Ben 4.03 and finally Jon M in 4.16 (muttering that that was definitely his last ever sprint race).

Gaby preparing for the sprint race. She is our youngest and in fact most experienced female member and the only one to come from a ski racer background rather than a mountaineering background.

Ben Bardsley, elite British fellrunner turned skier.

Janine Frost, successful full time athlete and mother of 2, skating up the exposed ridge of La Pendine

Es and Jon powering up the first ascent.

Captions on a postcard please! (what’s the guy in the middle saying?)

Sprint race day. Racers are set off at 20 second intervals. Here is Gaby charging out of the blocks, Ursula is next.

Thanks to Rab for our totally scrumptious jackets. Ursula, Gaby, and I shortly before someone asked me if I was Gaby’s mum. I guess it happens to us all eventually!