With the olympics coming up next month, all I could think about at yesterday's Whitefish Whiteout Randonee race was that if the winter olympics consisted of one sport, this should be that sport. Rando, and the athletes that take part, define winter more than anything else. I'm not just spouting here either, these guys and chicks ski harder than anyone on the planet. Rando, sadly won't be contested in Whistler but yesterday's race was an epic clash of 1.5 superpowers, USA and Canada.
By the way I'm reporting on this race because while "pre-skiing" the course on Friday with Ben Parsons, I found myself:
-Stuck in tree wells
-Cussing and not getting anywhere
-Sliding headfirst on my back losing a piece of equipment every ten meters
Maybe I'll race next year. That being said, I was perfectly happy watching, shooting some pics and hitting the groomers all day courtesy of Whitefish Mountain Resort. They gave me a free ticket for "checking out" the course on Friday. Little known fact about Rando, it's actually a great spectator sport. It's great to watch from chairlifts and the whole course is open so you can ski to different spots and check out your amigos.
A quick primer on the racers. Whitefish, being only 60 miles from Canada seemed like the perfect pre worlds workout for the powerhouse Canadian National Team. Frankly, I'm not sure how their terrorist looking Mitsubishi 4x4 van made it through customs. With homeland security asleep at the gate, the only ones left to stop the imperialistic ambitions of the Canucks were the Flathead's fittest sons, Brandon French, Ben Parsons and Clint "The Lung" Muhlfeld in the heavy metal category.
I had a chance to meet these invaders on Friday night. My protege, Mike Bestwick, was housesitting for the CEO of Sportsman Ski Haus and took it upon himself to house the Canadians at the house he was housesitting. These Canadians seemed like great folk, but I felt a little sorry for them. Waltzing into the Flathead is like dancing on top of a bees nest. Flathead's finest were ready to crush!
Back to the epic battle that took place. Canada's honcho, Reiner, went out white hot in pursuit of the $50 summit prime. He smashed the record, ascending 2,000 feet to the top of Big Mountain in 26:59! French wouldn't submit, trailing by 5 seconds after the first climb. Parsons gaged his effort, conceding a couple minutes but retaining his sanity. From here USA put their technical abilities to use. French and Parsons were untouchable through the bumps and tech-climbing. The Canadian couldn't hang, he had blown his wad on the first climb! French opened a gap on the second climb that no one could close. He was making the course look easy. Parsons leapfrogged the Canadian on the second climb and didn't look back. Canada had to settle for third. Clint rocked the Canadians and everyone else who challenges him in the Heavy Metal class. Completing the course on his fat tele boards. Melanie, of Team Canada, CRUSHED the Women's race, she probably won by at least 15 minutes. The protege, Bestwick, had a good race dressed as spiderman. He has really stepped up his game after competing in skate skis and a business suit previously. Racers limped home for hours after French had finished but when the powder settled one thing was clear: USA #1! and #2! Well thats all I've got. If you get a chance, check out Rando, it's so hot right now!
PS both Brandon and Ben are traveling to the World Championships in Andorra. I'm pumped to see how the Flathead stacks up against the rest of the world but I'm sure they will do great! I know I'm always trumping stuff up but these guys ski harder than words can describe. Four thousand vert of climbing and descending in an hour and a half is as cryptic as it gets. They will be holding a fundraiser to get over to Europe and race so I'll have details on that later. Flathead Power!