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- January 16, 2012 at 3:24 am #576026UngroundedParticipant
by: Michelle Smith
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Anyone that is a splitboarder, or has been out with a splitboarder knows how much they can suffer if conditions aren’t ideal. Sidehilling, icy or crusty traverses/skintracks, and long rolling approaches are all things that can create a challenging day on a split. This year I even questioned why I still bothered to do big days in the Tetons on a splitboard. I started doing some research on buying a dynafit ski set-up, dusted off my old ski boots, and then clicked into a pair of my friend’s skis one day this season. The outcome wasn’t good. After a big fall I took climbing in the mountains a year and a half ago, I shattered my lower leg. Now that my leg qualifies me into the heavy metal category for life, being in a stiff boot while making a ski turn felt more uncomfortable than splitboarding at its worst. Plus, I just wasn’t feeling it. I enjoy riding down a mountain most on a snowboard. So I was back to square one, and decided to spend the year working on making splitboarding as efficient and pleasant as possible.
With the snowpack being a little too sketchy to hit some of the bigger lines around the Tetons, I decided to challenge myself by entering a randonee race…..on my splitboard. I’ll admit that this idea seemed like a bit of a joke, but I thought if nothing else it would be an interesting experience.
This past weekend was the U.S Ski Mountaineering Championship at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. The race course is pretty burly, with somewhere around 8,000 feet of vertical and a ton of transitions. About half way through the race there is a cut off point of 3 hours. If you don’t make that you will get booted off the course with a mandatory DNF. Since I wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into by trying this, I thought that a potential DNF would be a pretty embarrassing end to my first try at a race on a splitboard. Fortunately there was a “recreation” division that was about half the vertical with only 3 transitions, PERFECT! I signed up, and gave myself 3 goals for entering the race.
1-to learn something new about how to make splitboarding more efficient
2-to get in a good day of exercise
3-to beat at least one skier that was actually racing
I rolled up to the race about 15 minutes before the start on my splitboard, and found myself inside a pool of lycra, spandex, and really tiny skis. As if I didn’t feel out of place as it was, I definitely got a few weird looks. I moved to the back of the pack to find myself standing next to the one other splitboarder in the line-up and wished him luck.
When the race began I pretty much red lined it all the way up to the recreation turn-around, which was about 2500 feet up a smooth steep groomer interspersed with a couple of cat tracks. There was no icy side hilling, no switchbacks, and no traversing during this portion of the race. It was just a good cardio burn, which was the only thing I had to my advantage. I got to the front of the back of the pack and was able to stay there until about 20 feet before the turn-around point….right where the groomer started to turn into an icy bump field. As expected I slipped out, and I thought, “great….this is where the embarrassment begins”. I got passed by about 3 skiers during the slip, so instead of wasting time trying to get back on my feet again I just took off my board and walked the 20 feet to the transitions point. I made the transition as quick as I could, and hauled ass down to the lower faces. Once I got to the lower faces it was survival turns down to the bottom. Conditions were absolute boiler plate from a week of warm daytime temps with below freezing temps at night. I got passed by one skier on the way down, but overall I made it down those conditions on my board just fine. I feared that going back up that sh#t with my splitboard was where the disaster was going to begin.
The next transition went pretty smoothly. There was still a good handful of skiers behind me. If they were going to pass me it was going to be during this crusty bump field odyssey. The start of the lower faces went really well. It wasn’t too steep, so I was cruising over the crust. Then the crux struck. About half way up the skin track got icy, steep, and un-even chundery bumps were everywhere. I slipped out twice as every step turned into a struggle. I saw two skiers gaining distance on me quickly. I wasn’t happy about loosing even more time, but I made myself stop to take off my pack and grab my splitboard crampons. It took a few minutes to get the crampons on, but once I did it was smooth sailing again. The skin up was still miserable….as it was for everyone that day, but I was (relatively) cruising again. When I got to the top of the lower faces to start the last transition, the other two skiers that were close behind ended up being in the transition zone with me. I put my board back together in record time, and took off ahead of them by just a few seconds. I went down the run towards the finish line as fast as I could and didn’t look back. When I crossed the line there was a skier that finished about .02 seconds behind me. She was pretty flabbergasted that she let herself get beat by a splitboarder….but all in all she was pretty stoked I was able to do it.
I ended up in 3rd place in the women’s recreation division. It felt really good to stand on the podium in a pair of snowboard boots. In a field of 15 rec skiers I finished 8th overall, which I felt like was a solid accomplishment. And who knows, maybe one day there will be a splitboard division at a race like this! If nothing else it would be a fun way for the splitboard community to come together and push each other to find ways to make this sport a little more pleasant and efficient.January 16, 2012 at 4:58 am #649464HansGLudwigParticipant
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http://splitboard.com/activity-2/January 16, 2012 at 5:53 am #649465wasatch surfParticipant
awesome thanks for posting!
The wasatch powderkeg has a small group of splitboarders that do the race every year. I have done it once and it was really fun. I know skimo racing isn’t of interest to most people on this site but i am a pretty big follower. I would like to see more and more splitboarders getting into these races. racing increase speed and innovation in products.
I also had goals similar to yours…1. make the cut off time 2. beat a skier
well I did both and actually most of the splitboarders finished in the top portion of the rec. division.
the jackson race sounds fun, way to represent!January 16, 2012 at 6:27 am #649466philip.akParticipant
Excellent writeup. And super job in your placing. I usually dust most of my skier friends up the hill when we are doing laps, but there are a number of reasons for that. 🙂January 16, 2012 at 3:47 pm #649467kastonParticipant
sick! i don’t see myself doing a randonee race anytime soon but i’m glad there’s splitters like you pushing it. re: goal #1, did you learn anything earth-shattering?January 16, 2012 at 8:18 pm #649468SnurferParticipant
The Wasatch Citizen Skimo races are in the third week. You can check out the blog here (Yes its a blog link, blow me 😉 )
Shark Snowsurf Chuna
Voile V-Tail 170 BC
Voile One Ninety Five
Spark R&D ArcJanuary 16, 2012 at 8:30 pm #649469ta huiParticipant
I have access to all the timing, tents, infrastructure , stage, lighting , sound ,awards podiums , etc!!!! everything we need to have an event! Crux Events !!! Lets do this!!! we can get a tour going! maybe International! :headbang: :rock: :bananas: :thumpsup:January 16, 2012 at 11:27 pm #649470fustercluckParticipant
^^^A splitboard event would need it’s own rules, though. Like drinking a beer during transitions, burning a doobie on the way up, postponing the race altogether if there is less than 6″ of pow. And of course a mandatory splitbooting/shwacking section to keep things interestingJanuary 17, 2012 at 9:32 pm #649471brgParticipant
Glad to see your post here. How about posting some more of your TRs here? I like ungrounded, and do check it most days. This is a great place to share knowledge and ideas, it provides a great place for the splitboarding community. What I like best about this forum is there is literally no attitude here, just shred hard and post if you want. I have found the other forums teletips and TGR all have way to much attitude.January 18, 2012 at 3:54 am #649472iriecoyoteParticipant
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