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Posts Tagged ‘Frozen Granular’

Wakefield to Chelsea;
Vorlage to Camp Fortune;
Lookout to Canadian and Chute;
Slalom to GS.
Only 20 kilometers apart, but different difficulties.

The first weekend of racing in the Outaouais Zone was here.

I accompanied the small team of Edelweiss Ski Team U14 to their first race. This was also my first race as a coach.

Saturday : Slalom on Lookout at Vorlage – Looking for snow

A quick 30 minutes up Autoroute 5 which will soon connect to directly to Vorlage. My anxiety was kicking in, but not as bad as my first race 7km away at Edelweiss last Wednesday. The word at the coaches meeting was that the snow was thin on Lookout so the kids couldn’t inspect the course by side-slipping. They were allowed to slide in and out to inspect the line. The course was also set according to where there was enough snow depth, which was a bit challenging for the course setters: you could see that they hit the ground at many places.

The thaw and rain had closed the run; the snow crew managed to make enough snow to open it for race day. There was a huge frozen water puddle at the side of the finish line. Not as bad as the parking lot which could have been turned into a huge skating rink. I almost killed myself walking with my ski boots to get my skis. As I rode the old double chair, they were still a few old style snow guns blowing on the old T-bar line. Vorlage is a great family and beginner ski area, probably one of the two best on the Ottawa region with Pakenham located West of Ottawa on the Ontario side of the Ottawa River; no wonder that I bumped into fellow Master racers with young kids at the hill.

Old double lift, nice lodge…until recently, there was also a pair of old T-bars. I realized that the steep T-Bar only had the cable left. It’s a shame, I remember riding that thing when my daughters were young. At that time I gained much respect for my mother as she often rode T-Bars with me, especially the mandatory steep North side T-Bars at Tremblant.

The racers did a few runs on Birch Valley waiting for course to open for inspection. The surface was a mixed of frozen granular with a small layer of fresh snow. Jon was joining me for the morning, but first he had to drop his youngest at Edelweiss and then return to Vorlage. Jon as three kids in the program, the former parent rep for the Club has moved into the Head Coach position. His two other kids were racing at the U16 race at Cascades. He radioed me when he was back at Vorlage. Funny, but fellow coaches at Edelweiss thought they heard me on the radio. The distance between Edelweiss and Vorlage is less than 4km as the crow flies. The course held up fine throughout the day and didn’t rut up as feared. The surfaces were slick and good edges couldn’t be undersold. Finished the day with a run to the Lodge via Golden and the Cream Puff pitch in order to avoid all the skating…especially when you don’t have any ski poles. Edelweiss girls had great results for first year U14 racers.

Pictures courtesy of Kunstadt Sports

Sarah


Emelyn


Sierra, fastest girl. The fastest boy wasn’t in the picture gallery.

More pictures from the Vorlage race on Kunstadt Sports’ Facebook page

Vorlage U14 Slalom Results Ladies
1 SMITH, Sierra MARIE 48.52 46.81 1:35.33
2 THOMAS, Sophie VORLA 50.27 47.55 1:37.82
3 CARPENTIER, Maude ASM 49.78 49.72 1:39.50

Vorlage U14 Slalom Results Men
1 DUFF, Sam CALAB 46.79 43.51 1:30.30
2 CLARK, Tyler MARIE 47.58 45.41 1:32.99
3 KISLICH-LEMYRE, York FORTU 47.53 47.45 1:34.98

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Sunday : GS on Canadian & Chute at Camp Fortune – Iceline down Chute

It started snowing again. This morning’s drive to Chelsea was even a shorter. Camp Fortune’s Skyline is definitely a steeper hill with runs like Heggtveit, Swan Dive and The Chute. The U14 race was set from the top of Canadian then dropping down the narrow B-Net line couloir called The Chute, an especially intimidating hill to run a GS course. My daughter Morgane race down an icy Chute back in 2011. You almost had to wonder if Camp Fortune hadn’t traded their snow groomers for zambonis machine instead? It was hard just to hold on the icy slope during inspection. Racers had to inspect from the side behind the blue dye in the steepest part of the Chute.

All the main black runs on Skyline were slick if not down right icy. It was even more surprising that someone was skinning and going switchbacks up Heggtveit prior to the lifts opening.

Racers had to be ahead and stay forward, if not it could be the end of the race. Bindings also had to set right, as it was rough and many skis popped off. Snow started falling in the afternoon. The success rate in finishing is generally greater in GS compare to Slalom, but it wasn’t the case between both race this weekend. Sierra Smith smoked all the girls and boys by a huge 4-seconds margin. I raced at the same time as her mom, Julie Klotz, back in my university racing days, in fact the ex-Canadian team member is one of the girls with the most victories on the Quebec university circuit. Julie isn’t the only ex-National team member and Canadian champion; she is deeply involved in current ski racing in the Outaouais Zone. On the Fortune Race / Ottawa Ski Club side which has formed so many top rate racers; former and recent Canadian champs and World Cup racers Patrick Biggs and JP Roy have joined the club. In comparison the Edelweiss U14 team is extremely modest, almost as small as the one member U14 team of Upper Ottawa Valley.

Both Edelweiss girls only managed to finish one run each. There was definitely a few disappointed faces across the different teams. But they will be another race…as Edna Mode says, they have to pull themselves together for the next race…to success, to fight and WIN!!!


Emelyn


Girl crashing. They would be a huge delay to remove her from the hill


Sarah falling in the compression


Sierra Smith is the fastest racer today. Heading for her second victory of the weekend


Eric Guimond, first year U14 and winner for the Boys

More pictures from the Camp Fortune race on Kunstadt Sports’ Facebook page

Camp Fortune U14 Giant Slalom Results Ladies
1 SMITH, Sierra MARIE 35.70 35.14 1:10.84
2 THOMAS, Sophie VORLA 37.25 37.45 1:14.70
3 TAN, Sophia CALAB 39.10 38.72 1:17.82

Camp Fortune U14 Giant Slalom Results Men
1 GUIMONT, Eric VORLA 38.36 37.39 1:15.75
2 KISLICH-LEMYRE, York FORTU 38.58 37.74 1:16.32
3 MARLER, Aidan MARIE 39.14 37.26 1:16.40

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After an incredible stretch of Winter conditions in the Outaouais and all the regions North of the St.Lawrence Valley, the season ran into a pothole.

Rude awakenings or sleeping in

Saturday January 11 was the start of the ski school programs, but Edelweiss was closed. In fact most of the ski areas in Quebec opted to closed on what is one of the busiest days of the season : the first Saturday of ski school programs.

In fact the first pothole of the season which put an end to the awesome Winter streak of packed powder ski conditions was the rain from last Monday January 6 then everything was put in the deep freeze the following day. Round two of thaw and rain came on Saturday January 11 with temperatures around +6c reduced the snowpack and gave us Spring snow conditions for the Sunday.

Sunday January 12

I’m normally not one to complain about Spring conditions, but not in January. The road was also showing signs of Spring with potholes and bumps. The ski conditions were so bad as the roads. My daughter was teaching her first class ever with the Ski school this morning…ironic that she had ski lessons at Edelweiss as a young child.

The temperature this morning was just below freezing and the plan for the day was to train slalom on Zoomer. The only problem was that Zoomer was closed as the groomer was still working at it when the lift opened. The ski patrol wouldn’t let us crossed the line to set while it was somewhere on the hill. What was supposed to be only a few minutes took about half of the morning. In the meantime we got to work on our skiing. The NCO team was also present and managed to set the course in which the patrol was pissed off at us. Eventually we were allowed to set before the trail was open to the public…which was like only 2 minutes before.

There was a small layer of fresh snow, but it was hard to get a clean edge on the firm frozen granular base. Two courses were set up; ours on Upper Zoomer and NCO’s on the lower main part of the trail. Kids from each club were training both. The bonus with NCO’s course was that they had set up a small timing device so the kids could know how they did. Our timing was off, as we decided to train much later due to the fact that it was almost lunch time were the course was set. Like the snow conditions, you have to be able to adapt.

It didn’t take long for the course to become ugly; huge ruts, icy firm base, which sometimes broke through. It was a challenge and the kids had to fight at every moment not to be bounced out. One thing about ski racing, you have to focus on your skiing and on not the conditions. The conditions can suck, but they suck for everyone. The fastest skier win, regardless of the conditions.

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Wednesday January 15 – Potholes of life and Masters race

Like a ski season, life has full of potholes. Although I’m still skiing and my ski streak is still active; if you’ve been reading this blog regularly and reading between the lines, you might have noticed that I’ve been fighting with health issues related to stress for the last 3-4 seasons. One of the significant moments that started to affect my skiing was the health scare I got at the first Ottawa Masters race at Fortune back in January 2012. Since that blackout, palpitations and sky-high heart rate and blood pressure, I had withheld from ski racing. This, even after following a series of tests at the Heart Institute. Everything seemed to be related to my increased anxiety levels which was hard to control. I finally hit rock bottom last June and it has been a long continuing fight to try to get healthy again. I’m not traveling like I use to: I’m taking one step at a time. One huge step is to get back into Masters ski racing. I had skipped the first race at Fortune due to my stress level being too high.

This was the second Masters race of the season and the first one at Edelweiss. I had planned to get at the hill no matter what. The goal was to race, but I was going to see how I felt first. No sharpening or waxing, I couldn’t even manage to do it. The stress level increased as I was driving up to Edelweiss to finally reach a high at the starting gate. My heart was racing, my mind was rushing, my body didn’t like it; not the normal butterflies feeling…this was intense and the worst feeling in a long time. My anxiety issue have multiplied the normal race anxiety 20 times. The fact that my last racing evening two years ago ended up badly didn’t help. It was much warmer than I expected as it was just around -5c.

Down the icy GS course on Zoomer and through the finish. I felt slightly better at the finish area. The ski conditions weren’t as bad as feared and it was carveable with good edges. Ottawa Masters racing consist of 3 timed run, the competitor with the best two run combine time wins.

First run was breaking the ice.
Second run was the fastest.
Third run was faster than the first.

The final results of the race was that I won. A first victory in my long road in becoming healthy again. The fastest racer of the evening was series champ Gary which clocked over 5 seconds faster each run. In fact my fastest run was 2.43 seconds slower than my handicap for the Beer Points, that is skiing at only 93% of my pre-blackout racing expectation in GS back in late 2011 : second worst versus his handicap on the Beer Points list.

It was a nice 5 run evening, but they were so important. This was small step to the road to recovery. It was a great evening with a great turnout of 56 racers and there were many new faces since my last race. I expected that my season results will be sandbagged, so I might “win” best improved run at least once in the future? I wasn’t going to make it to the long -23c Cascades slalom the following Wednesday, but I’ll take this small victory and build on it.

The evening time results HERE.

Here is the summary from the Masters’ prez:

Race 2 Edelweiss GS
Another great GS, another great turnout! 56 racers lined up to set themselves up for ridicule and defeat at the hands of the race crew on a course in direct view of the chair lift. Some of you were very entertaining.
This was a picture perfect night. I was skeptical given the R and the warm melt from the weekend, but the temperatures dropped and the snow was fast and hard and held up well. No wind, about -4 or so and that was it.
The crew set up a great course, the finish coral was safe and well protected. Good Job!
Once again the Gary Joneses were at the top of the list. Bod Suderman, failing to show is putting his dreams of a Masters championship in jeapardy already.
On the ladies chart, Erin Hall threw a pair of 36’s narrowly edging Megan by 5/100ths of a sec to win Gold. I think that was the first podium for Erin!
Danielle Avery, a masters newby, took home her first gold in the beer points. She promptly drank her award.

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Three day course at the hill. A course to become a certified coach. You see, after skiing for the first time in 1968, I finally went to go some type of skiing certification. I guess I’m living life upside down…almost everyone get into skiing then get a real job…I’m doing the opposite.

All the friends I know that went to get some type of skiing certification did so when they were in their late teens or early twenties; the demographics of this course wasn’t any different. I was the outlier, everyone else were maybe 21 and under. I was almost the oldest, except for the “facilitator” who was 2 months older than me. A majority of the people in the course were ex-FIS racers.

Friday December 6

The day after the rain and thaw, the temperature was holding steady at -1c. The meeting place for in the main lodge at 8:30am even if the lift only opened at 9am. There wasn’t many cars in the parking lot when I arrived at 8:15am.

The course was a mixed of “in-class” and “on snow”. On the first two days we would ski from 10 to 2:30 then back into the class until close to 5pm.

The coverage was still good on Chemin des bois and Easy Street, but the surface was of a frozen granular type. A bit like skiing on small marbles. Let’s just say it was much better a few days ago. The terrain was limited, but the Easy Street is nice for a green run. The facilitator showed us a series of exercises and drills. The intensity increased until I was sweating. A few in the group got warned about their lift ticket not being placed on their jacket, geez there were maybe 10 other people on the hill. Not surprising the kids from the club have been asked about their pass when they had skinsuits. That being said, not sure how busy the weekend will be?

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Saturday December 7

Another -1c this morning. Edelweiss has a few snow guns blowing on Yodeler (aka Rockstar) and one the side of Easy Street pitch. It was frozen granular, but the surface was much better. The ski team has on the hill this morning plus the early season skiers and boarders. I always use the term skiers, but when I do, it includes all riders (ski and snowboard). Edelweiss is known for its park, so they get a fair percentages of boarders on the hill. You wouldn’t know that segment of the sport was in sharp decline.

Skiing on weekends can bring a few pet peeves. Instead of lift tickets, we were bugged about having to go around and use the coral when no one was there. That is probably where I damaged my base with the few peddles lying around. There were a few peddles on the hill also, I guess that what happens when the groomer drive over gravel.

As the class was skiing on Chemin des bois, one from our group was cutoff and had to avoid a crash by a split second. There were a few of those busy moments on the hill during the weekend which is one of the dangers when there is limited terrain.

Our facilitator reminded me of the coach I had in university. Both of them escaped Eastern Europe via flights to Cuba in the mid 1980s and spoke in a thick accent, in both official languages.

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Sunday December 8

A cold -13c morning for Evaluation Day. I was in terrible shape as I managed to sleep only 2 terrible hours. One of my daughters was sick while the other had a sleepover. Tara was going to the hill with her friend and her ski patrol dad. I had to adjust her used boots with Morgane’s old skis and bring then at the hill. I wasn’t going to be able to lookout for my daughter for lunch or anything else, so I asked my wife to come to the hill with me.

When we arrived at 8:15am, Tara was already ready. For the course, I was told what I needed to go to pass. It should have been easy, but my brain was scrabbled from lack of sleep and fatigue plus going the exercises.

The snowguns had more all night and the conditions were groomed to awesomeness. Best day out of the three. They were huge mounds of snow on Yodeler and Trou du Diable, so it shouldn’t be long until the area had some extra terrain.

We got on the snow at 9, as everyone had to do a lesson. It warm up to a nice -6c, conditions were awesome; I wasn’t. 😦 It would have been easier if we still had straight skis and shape skis never existed. Damn A-frame which come back as a reflex. After waiting for over one hour, we had individual interviews.

The wise Polish guy said to me today that I need to work hard to become a good skier…and he is right. I could have skied better today, a good night sleep can’t be overstated. If they had a retro category, I would rock!!! Bring back to 205s. Technique has changed, but hard to teach an old dog a new trick, but I squeaked by, I passed… it was ugly. Anyway, I’ll have to ski more to work on it.

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After three days of 8 to 5 at the hill and six out of the last eight on snow; I’ll take a break for a few days, even if there is fresh snow on the ground.

What’s next in skiing? I don’t know, there is always working to get better. What is better than a Level 1? Level 2! I already have a Avy 1. Avy 2 wouldn’t be in the cards for this Winte, but somewhere down the road. Oh yeah, Instructor 1 & 2 and Coach 2 would also be nice; it would make four Level 2 as I already have my Race Official 2. You see, I’m living life upside down…almost everyone get into skiing then get a real job…I’m doing the opposite.

Over sixty years after my father became a Certified Ski Instructor at Chalet Cochand in 1952, now it was my turn. My mother always discouraged me of being to involved in skiing like my father and focus on getting a good job unlike him. I’m at the crossroads and not sure what I want to do in life, but one thing is certain, I want to ski!!!

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