WritingsThoughts, ideas, comments, diatribes, and rambles. A subjective take.
Vertfest and the Voile Wasatch Speed Project
Today’s post is from Mountain Lessons guest blogger Taylor Schefstrom.
If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll recognize her as my intrepid and loving sidekick. While I’m largely to blame for dragging her into a handful of races this season, Taylor’s no stranger to snow. She’s been touring and chasing snow for several years, and she’s so well-traveled it makes me ashamed to compare myself.
American women’s skimo is a Very small world, but there’s no reason for that. American already sends inspiring women to World Cups, and with the sport taking off in America, I think we’ll see a lot of growth from the women. I hope that Taylor will keep giving us the ladies perspective– the more outspoken women the better.
In today’s post, Taylor talks about her first experience on race skis. And how could that first-time experience be better than skiing next-year’s ski in a skimo race? Oh yeah… if she placed and scored some cash.
T:Two weekends ago I drove out to Mt. Bachelor for the second race in the Outdoor Research Vertfest series. After doing the first race at Alpental on my Volkl Nanuqs and getting a chance to gawk at the higher-end race gear, I was interested in trying out some of the fancy stuff myself (Spending the past 5 months or so training for the Goretex Grand Traverse with my boyfriend and his silly-light setup wasn’t helping things). I have to admit, though, that I was worried that the tiny race skis would be a hassle on the climb and a challenge to ski.
Voile Skis, a classic backcountry brand based in Salt Lake City, was kind enough to arrange a demo for the race at Vertfest Bachelor. They hooked me up with a pair of next-year’s Wasatch Speed Project, a skimo race ski offering designed to offer race performance at a price that normal people can afford. I was floored from the very beginning as we took a warm up lap before the race. The skis felt dainty and strange on my feet, until I started climbing and was rocked by the difference a light ski can make.
From the start of the race, I could feel the difference. I had been a bit worried about needing to change my skinning technique, but this concern was completely unfounded. As long as I kept my weight centered, they stuck like glue, and the energy that it took to glide forward was really minimal. It felt like these skis flew up the skin track and I found myself able to increase my leg turnover and worry less about burning out. My delight in these things distracted me somewhat from the suffering and before I knew it, it was time to do some skiing!
After hitting the top of the first climb, it was time to attempt a speedy transition and see how the skis rallied. The WSP’s are so light and maneuverable that ripping skins was pleasingly simple. I switched my boots, stepped in, and was speeding downhill while other racers were still standing by fiddling. It took me a few turns to adjust to the weight of the WSP, but once I did I was cruising. With ample camber the ski felt very stable on edge, even as the conditions of the day went from icy hardpack to chunder. Unlike a lot of race skis, they have a meaningful rocker on the tip, and that really helped to keep the tips from diving as I cruised into the second transition ready to head back up.
Throughout the race, I was truly amazed at the advantage that the WSPs gave me. About halfway through the race, I realized I was in fourth place, and that’s when it really got good. The 3rd place woman and I traded spots back and forth for the last two climbs. I would put some distance between us on the climbs and while transitioning but then she would catch me at the tail of the descents. We started up the final boot pack at about the same time, but she was able to barely edge me down to the finish line.
Luckily, fourth was still ‘in the money’ and it was a fun thing to be standing up on the podium with all the fast folk. Would I have been up there without the help of the awesome dudes at Voile and their magical skis? Perhaps not. Using the WSP’s increased the fun factor of my race and weekend ten-fold.
And the graphic for next year? It’s pretty sweet.
(And rumor is, there’s a ladies version coming out too! 150 cm and even lighter!)
Right now you can lighten the load on your feet with some good American-made skimo race skis: