Here are some photos from “behind the scenes” in West Yellowstone. (Alternative title: “Sorry, I didn’t get any race photos.”)
We arrived in “West” on Thursday, November 15th. Our first race was not until the following Friday, the 23rd, which gave us plenty of time to adjust to our new house and to the additional 2,000-2,500ft of elevation. Canmore is around 4,500ft, and West Yellowstone is the devil’s altitude: 6666. Because of a lack of snow in town, all training and racing had to be moved to the 7000ft+ South Plateau, which is about 6mi from town up a steep, winding, one-lane dirt road. The Forest Service was kind enough to let the race organizers plow the road, but even with plowing, a shuttle service, and strict scheduling of up-only and down-only traffic, it was a certifiable cluster. Anyone without a racer’s or coach’s bib was prohibited from going up to the plateau on race days in an effort to keep the congestion down. Luckily we were able to give Maria’s parents a coach’s parking pass so that they could watch the race which they came all the way from MN to see!
I think we had a mix of results in the two races, ranging from Caitlin’s back-to-back podiums and a bunch of team top-tens, to those of us who were hoping to do a bit better. Gordon has posted an excellent and comprehensive race review here. I was hoping to be in the top 10, but finished just out, in 13th and 16th in the 9km and sprint, respectively. I hope (intend!) to improve upon that in the upcoming races. The elevation was a challenge, as was the fact that it was our very first race of the season! Because the West Yellowstone and Bozeman SuperTour races are qualifiers for Canadian World Cup events in December, I think we felt more pressure to excel out here than we typically might have in the season opener. But overall the team was successful and is looking forward to sprint races tomorrow and Saturday, and a mass start on Sunday.
AND, we are looking forward to flying home to Craftsbury next Monday.