Frenchman Florent Perrier wins the Vertical Race.
Click here for full race results.
My legs were feeling pretty sore on Wednesday after my battle with dehydration and leg cramps in the Teams Race, so for the benefit of the team, I decided to hand my Vertical Race spot over to Zahan, who seemed to be recovering better from the race the day before. In a nut shell, this means that my World Championship races are over and I will be on the sidelines encouraging my teammates.
I accompanied the crew to the gear check to see all the cool mods and lightweight gear. Not all mods are accepted and there are minimum weights for both skis and boots. Boots much have 75% of the bottom covered in rubber, which can be relatively heavy, and at least 15 lugs in the front and 8 in the back, as well as being at least 4mm deep. They also mush have a cuff and some sort of closure system. This prevents racers from showing up with Nordic type boots modified with some sort of Dynafit attachment system.
Speaking of Dynafit, while about 90% of the racers use Low Tech or titanium toe pieces, it seems like there are all types of aftermarket heelpieces. Some weight less than 75 grams too. These types of bindings have a theoretical DIN setting based on the flex of the metal, but it’s not like anyone wants their skis to come during these races anyway.
Boot modifications seemed to be the most creative thing that racers were coming in with to the gear check. Many of the racers are using some top dollar carbon fiber boots made by Pierre Gignoux, but they run for about $1200 Euros…about $1800 in American dollars. These things are wicked light and supposedly ski really well. It seems that they are not that durable though and I often see racers bring their boots into the dinning area in search of something or someone to fix the problems they are having. None the less, it would be cool to have a pair of these kicks… they are a bit out of our price range…especially since I just found my server rates just got increased since TetonAT.com is pumping out about 35 gigabytes a month these days.
Anyway, a plethora of boots were on display ranging from boots with carbon cuffs, Scarpa/Dynafit hybrids, and boots that look like Swiss cheese from all the holes drilled in them. One racers boots failed the inspection due to lack a cuff completely as well as being under the 1300 gram minimum weight. Lightweight gear isn’t cheep and some the US Team members were kicking down the Swiss francs to lighten their load.
The Vertical Race isn’t quite as spectator friendly as the other events since it’s just one uphill push, but I staged near the top of the venue to see the finish. Frenchman Florent Perrier won by a whopping 38 seconds with a time of 35:04 for the 2871′ course and the top 5 racers beat the previous record held by Patrick Blanc. Interestingly enough, there wasn’t a gap between the racers quite a big as the one between first and second place until way in the back of the pack. Looks like Florent owns the sport these days and isn’t looking back.
Bryan Wickenhauser was the first American to pass the finish line followed by Chris Kroger, Zahan Billimoria and Scott Coldiron. Monique Merrill brought is home for the US women, coming in 21st, behind Italy’s Roberta Pedranzini came in first. American Lyndsay Meyer held her own and we’re hoping Nina Silitch can overcome a dose of strep throat to compete in the long distance individual race tomorrow. The race consists of about 10,000′ of climbing with eight separate uphill sections. Should be…painful…to say the least.