Eric Carter: 2017 SkiMo Season Wrap Up

by: Eric Carter

Looking back in my training diary, it is interesting remembering some of my early-season training sessions and realizing that they feel like they were so long ago. We were incredibly lucky this season to have snowfall in early October. It wasn’t long before we were able to ski down to the valley and by the end of October, ski training was in full swing. I spent a good chunk of the season on the road, first travelling to the US Team qualifying races in the US and then living in Europe and travelling to World Cup races. 
 
Snow conditions in Europe were incredibly bad. The Alps had very little snow all season and spring came early. The Dolomites were nearly summer when we arrived for World Championships. Only the Pyrenees had decent skiing. It’s hard not to look at the unseasonably warm temperatures, the lack of storms, and the smog that settles in the valley and not draw conclusions about climate change.
La Grande Course

La Grande Course

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The Grand Traverse

maxtaamWritten by MAX TAAM

Living in Aspen it’s hard to not know about the Grand Traverse. I race the biggest skimo races in the world in Europe but when I am at home everyone is always asking about the Elk Mountain Grand Traverse. It’s a one of kind race and on many Colorado (and beyond) residents bucket lists.

The Elk Mountain Grand Traverse is a backcountry ski race that starts at midnight and crosses the 40 miles from Crested Butte to Aspen.  There has always been a friendly rivalry between the two mountain towns and a team from Aspen hasn’t won the race since its very first running 20 years ago.

GT Start

Photo Jacob Wearsch

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Power of Four Skimo Race — 2016

Photo: Myke Hermsmeyer / @mykehphoto / mykejh.com

Photo: Myke Hermsmeyer / @mykehphoto / mykejh.com

Well, that was worthwhile.

It’s not like I’m realizing anything ground-breaking here—in fact, mountain and ultrarunners crossing over to skimo in the winter months is treading perilously close to the tipping point of being cliche—but holy shit, what an absolutely fantastic sport! If you like moving quickly and efficiently* in the mountains, this style and format of activity is the only one that makes sense in the winter.  *(I prefer the “efficiently” adverb, because I believe it is one’s mindset and intent—not absolute velocity—that positively or negatively shapes the experience.)

Of course, the Euros have known this for a long time; they have a deep, intense pool of athletes over there who have been going at this for decades. Backcountry skiing or alpine touring in general is certainly nothing new here in the States, but it is definitely a growing sector, and with big advances in lightweight gear, runners (and others) with a bent for the mountains are increasingly being attracted to the sport’s extreme light-n-fast sector—skimo racing. So it shouldn’t come as much surprise that Ultimate Direction is making the logical cross-over, too. Garment-like hydration vests/packs with front carrying capacity have become the norm in running; why not apply the same design principles to skimo-specific packs? I’ve certainly been enjoying testing the new products.

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