If you thought that yesterday was cold, today was way colder.
The race was at Mont Ste-Marie, the region tallest ski area with it’s 381 meter vert (1,250 ft). It’s also not next door, so we had to get up extra early. MSM is slightly over one hour away and about 95km (over 55 miles) from Ottawa. Yesterday we had a Slalom at the closest hill, today it was time for a GS.
It was only going to be my daughter and myself, I had advised the rest of the family to stay home. An early start and real cold weather can make for logistic nightmares. As we got into the car in Ottawa prior to 7am, it was -25c. I don’t know why, but it would seem that the few times I’ve hit MSM in winter, it always turns out to be on real cold days. This was probably going to be the coldest ski day in over 2 years. The last time I recall skiing in temps as cold was during an avy course in the Chic Chocs on the same weekend three years ago. Crossing the bridge into Quebec and four minutes into the drive the temps had dropped to -26c. It wasn’t long until we eventually reached -29c. That was the temps when we got there at 8am. It never really warmed up.
The race was being held on the Outaouais trail, the only real good race trail at MSM. The trail is located on Cheval Blanc hill and isn’t easily reachable to the base of the ski area. You either have to push on your skis to make it the other side or take a shuttle to get closer. When its this cold, the snow doesn’t slide at all. It was a real pain to push on the flats.
This race was also going to be a challenge with the elements. First, this race wasn’t a Masters’ race where there is a No Skinsuit rule when it’s below -20c. This was also a challenging GS course for someone that never did a real GS before. The course was set on the Outaouais trail which is a fun trail with curve and dips and rolls. The course used the entire trail, wall-to-wall. The start area was set in the first pitch and crisscrossed the entire trail. The whole was closed off and the only way to ski down was to use a maintenance trail cut in the woods to reach the Betsy trail. I stayed at the top volunteering to bring jackets down. They let us down after the last girl and a few of us zigzagged at high speed through and around the gates and gate keepers. The racers were packed in a small shack that could fit maybe 20 people maximum. My daughter was far from the pack, but wasn’t last. One step at a time. Setting realistic goals for herself. I went back to the top to get the guys’ jackets. Athletes got at the bottom with frostbites on their faces. It was painfully cold as I was running jackets down. I was one of the rare parents on skis. Helping out at the start.
Instead of taking the HSQ back to the top of Cheval Blanc to ski over the Vanier side, I skated up to the beginner poma then followed the coach to ski down a road. The road wasn’t there when the coach last skied there, but the road skied real well and didn’t have any salt or sand on it. At lunch, I noticed a lady with four cups of Hot Chocolate. She was moving her frozen feet, trying to warm them up. Meanwhile the teenage girl in front of her had a nice cold Slush Puppy.
In the afternoon it got a bit warmer, it was a nice and hot at -25c. I managed a run down the steep Betsy prior to the start of the race. Snow surface was pretty slick (if not icy), which is generally the case on old snow on step groomer of artificial snow runs. My daughter’s start was much better in the 2nd run (I could only see the first 3 gates from my vantage point). She was totally stoked about her run and time as she was 5 seconds faster. Unfortunately we later found out that she missed a gate somewhere on the course and was DSQ. It doesn’t matter, it was good experience. I’m really proud of her as she making a big jump from first year one day a week Nancy Greene pre-competition to K2. She might be a feather weigh and short in height and experience, but she wants to go fast and is having fun. At the end of the race I skied across to the main area on the Frank Pouliotte green run, I was skiing with freezing feet and the pain on my face. Ah the feeling of frostbite. I went straight to the parking.
I had a camera today, but like on a powder day, -29c is too cold to take pictures.
I’m having some technical difficulties with my Suunto, so I’ll edit the post once I can download the logs.