West Yellowstone Week One

28.Nov.2017 by Liz Guiney

It’s normal for the Green Racing Project ski team to start our season in West Yellowstone, Montana, with its kilometers of pristine trails, wildlife sightings, and funky tourist town charm. We even usually stay in the same rental house, so it almost feels like home when we arrive.

However, this year the Green Team from the East had the bad luck of bringing more typical Eastern weather with us! Up until past Tuesday, the day we flew out to Bozeman, we heard reports of tons of snow and great skiing on the Rendezvous trails. The next day, it rained. Then it got warm. Then it rained again, and then it froze! Not ideal conditions for holding a festival for thousands of nordic skiers, much less the planned FIS race. However, the grooming team in West did everything they could, even closing down the race trails for several days, and amazingly, were able to pull off a race on Saturday. Dirt spots, ice patchs, and all.

At this point, I think I can speak for most of the team when I saw that we have a lot of experience dealing with bad conditions. Compared to the Birkie debacle of last season, this was practically pristine skiing. Even though the base got a little thinner every day, we were still able to get in some quality training during our first few days, and prepared ourselves to race. Weather is one of those things that is completely out of our control, and the only thing we can do is keep ourselves from being too stressed about it, and make the best of the situation.

Kait and I striding up the South Plateau Rd the day they closed down the race trails. Up a bit higher, the skiing was actually really nice!

 

After stuffing ourselves with stuffing, delicious roast turkey a la Pepa (boiled neck, giblets, and all), and Nick’s pumpkin pie at team Thanksgiving, we were ready to race. On Saturday, the women raced a 5k freestyle individual start, while the men did 10k. Because we planned to race just 5 days after we arrived, which can be the worst feeling day at altitude, our goals for the race were more process oriented. We planned to practice our warm-up, testing, and wax routine, and to get in a good hard workout. I think we accomplished that goal, although most of the team didn’t have great feeling races. That’s ok, we’ll be refocusing on the races this coming weekend, which are SuperTours and therefore count much more in the scheme of the overall race season. Hopefully by then we’ll be a bit more adjusted to the altitude. However, Caitlin still had a solid result this weekend, taking 2nd by just 0.9 seconds in the 5k, and Ben was also in the top ten, taking 8th in the 10k.

 

Sunrise on race morning

 

Kait cranking a hard effort in the 5k (photo Ian Harvey/Toko US)

 

Caitlin skiing to 2nd place, proving she is a fearless ice queen on a day with fast, luge-like downhills (Photo Ian Harvey, Toko US)

 

Ben and Adam working together towards the finish in the men’s 10k (Photo Ian Harvey/Toko US)

 

Unfortunately, after the races, the bad weather just continued, and the rain pummeled the trails even more on Saturday night and Sunday. We were still able to get in a good distance workout up high on the Plateau Rd the day after the race, but now the SuperTour is a little bit in flux. A storm today delivered a thin layer of wet, sloppy snow, but they’ll need several more inches to pull off the planned skate sprint and classic races. So, we’re in a bit of a holding pattern waiting to see if they can go ahead with the races as planned, or whether another venue will step in. In the meantime, West has lots of coffee shops, and we have a cozy living room with a fireplace and the movie channel, so it’s time to rest up for races, no matter what form they may take.

 

Reunited with Heather! She’s racing for the Bozeman team this year, but it’s always great to catch up with her and do some skiing. Once a greenie, always a greenie 🙂

 

Happy to find some good skiing and mountain views higher up on the plateau. Thanks to Skida and Julbo for keeping up outfitted in headwear and sunglasses

 

Ummm…. not sure how this will go! The plateau road farther down. Amazing what a small loss in elevation can do to the snowpack

Thanks to Nick and Pepa as always for their coaching and wax support. Also, big thanks to our team sponsors Craft, Skida, Julbo, and Polar for providing clothes and equipment for the team as we train and race! Stay tuned for more reports from out West, and make sure to follow the team on Instagram (@greenracingproject) and Facebook (Craftsbury Green Racing Project) for more frequent updates.