The Gore US Ski Mountaineering Championship presented by Outdoor Research is less than two weeks away and conditions look promising. Jackson Hole Mountain Resort is reporting a season snow total of 193", the deepest in the West. The forecast through New Year’s Day looks cold and dry. This is just what we need to settle the snowpack and make for fast conditions on race day.
This year’s course should be very similar to the 2011 course. The deep snow will allow the use of all the fun descents, including Alta One, Tower Three, Shot 10A, Central Chute, Lower Faces and Tram Line. The ascents will be a combination of on and off-piste skinning and bootpacks up the White Spider and Corbet’s Couloir.
This race is the first US Team qualifier, so all the big guns will be here looking to fill the coveted spots to represent the US at the Ski Mountaineering World Championship. Since this race is so early in the season, most of the competitors haven’t seen each other since last year, but a few familiar faces will undoubtedly be leading the charge. Look for Luke Nelson, last year’s champion, to fend off attacks from the Salt Lake crew of Jared Inouye and the Dorais brothers as well as the hyper-competitive Coloradoans such as Scott Simmons, Marshal Thompson, Greg Ruckman, Bryan Wickenhauser, Pete Swenson, etc., etc.!
The women’s field looks to be a bit smaller due to some untimely injuries. Last year’s champion, Sari Anderson, will sit this one out with an ankle injury and Amy Fulwylerhas yet to be on skis following a shoulder surgery. Janelle Smiley, however, has had a tremendous training cycle leading up to this race and hopes to have a dominating race before heading to Europe for World Cup races and the World Championship.