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Skimo Racing Vertfest Alpental 2016: 1st Place

The forecast called for temperatures in the 40s. As the weekend approached, the weatherman started calling for one to two inches of rain. The freezing level was above the mountaintops. Conditions were perfect for skimo racing.

Ok. That’s a lie. As Taylor and I drove to Washington on Saturday and mountain biked in the rain, I thought strongly about bailing from the second Vertfest race at Alpental. Stupid me, I had preregistered for the race, which is for some reason the most expensive ninety minutes of skimo that I know of. I should have known better– when we raced here two years ago, it was also raining.

Still, there are only so many races in the PNW, so we decided to make a classic alpine maneuver and “go have a look”. Perhaps in terrible weather, and with much more attractive races beckoning from the rockies to those with flexible schedules, we might find ourselves the only ones there.

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Vertfest start, with yours truly center-punching it in white suit, orange helmet. (Image stolen shamelessly from Kurt Hicks Überguide).

Read on →

Free Range Skimo Race: 2nd Place

There aren’t that many skimo races in the Pacific Northwest, in part because the sport is only beginning to take root and in part because local ski resorts (I’m looking at you Mt Bachelor) have not been welcoming of race series. Consequently, if you want to race, you get to drive. Still, after three straight weeks of full-time studying and a cabin fever mental breakdown, driving five hours from Portland for an hour of racing didn’t sound so bad to me.

Last night’s race was hosted by Free Range Equipment at the rootsy Hoodoo Ski Area as part of the Hoodoo Backcountry Fest. I’m not sure what’s backcountry about the backcountry fest, but there were tele slalom comps, fatbike races, and parking lot parties raging when I arrived. Between the beer and the bluegrass it seems like a pretty good time.

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The race was the brainchild of Tosch Roy, friend and founder of Free Range Equipment. He and his indefatigable mother set a course of glowsticks through a closed area of Hoodoo under the afternoon’s rain and remained cheerful as contestants arrived. The rain, thankfully, switched to snow.

Tosch, usually a strong racer, was out with a cold, but still stoked. His new packs (the Big Medicine and Raven) are slick, capable, and minimalist. More on those later.

Tosch, usually a strong racer, was out with a cold, but still stoked. His new packs (the Big Medicine and Raven) are slick, capable, and minimalist. More on those later.

The course was a single 650-vertical-foot drag race along a flat groomer and then up a pair of steep headwalls. Following the transition came a road, a tuck and throttle dark and shadowy groomer, and a well-lit but super-icy-chunky steep face to the lap flag. The race division made four laps for 2700′ in just under four miles. One tricky race rule was the lack of a mandatory transition zone at the base, with skating permitted to the end of the flat groomer (if skating is your thing). Read on →

No Excuses Interview Series: Tosch Roy

The No Excuses Interview Series explores the approaches and personalities of athletes who are inspiring in both the quality and consistency of their achievements. They’re real people doing great things. What they do, you can too, if you want it.

For part three of the no excuses interview series, we’re joined by Tosch Roy, a nordic racer turned skimo mutant at the helm of a svelte technical pack company, Free Range Equipment.

Bio

Forced on to a pair of skis at the age of three, Tosch trained and raced as a nordic skier through high school, at which point, the mountains around Central Oregon proved to be too much of a distraction to a career in cross-country skiing. Tossing aside the skinny skis for something (slightly) wider, the Oregon Cascades became a training ground for his fast and light adventures.

Tosch Roy in his playground-- the Oregon Cascades.

Tosch Roy in his playground– the Oregon Cascades.

After traveling abroad for a year, he decided that “studying” (read: skiing/climbing) at Montana State University would give him the best chance of finishing a college degree. While it was a worthy attempt, Roy dropped out after two years to start his business Free Range Equipment which manufactures ski mountaineering and climbing backpacks in his hometown of Bend, OR. Read on →

Wasatch Powder Keg 2014

Packed for the 2014 Wasatch Powder Keg

Nearly packed for the 2014 Wasatch Powder Keg

I’m sitting in the Salt Lake City airport , waiting for a flight to Denver. My heart rate is chugging along at 86 bpm, and I’ve just downed 1400 calories in under 15 minutes. In spite of my bulging gut, I feel lean and worn in a deeply satisfying way that I have seldom been able to access. It’s 6:00 pm, and I’m waiting for my flight home from the 2014 Wasatch Powder Keg (ISMF North American Skimo Championships).

With recent local success racing at Mt Bachelor, I was ready to have my ego destroyed at the Powderkeg. The race is the longest-running skimo event in the US, and this year it was chosen to be the North American Championships. That meant that in addition to the strong Wasatch crowd, a pack of Canadians, Coloradans and other far-flung speed suit types would be coming to downsize my opinion of my own fitness. Nevertheless, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to jump in and tangle with much better racers in three different race formats; sprint, individual, and teams races against the best on the continent.

Start corral for the individual race.

Start corral for the individual race.

Read on →