2480 vm / 29.2 km / starting line @ at 1160 meters elevation
7 ascents, 7 descents, 2 bootpacks, 16 transitions
Last weekend I raced in a small Swiss town called Les Diablerets. The race took a teams format- meaning 2 athletes start, complete, and finish the course together; the two team members must go through all transitions at the same time. It is a fun and different concept to racing, as you change race strategy and look out for your partner. You work together and your actions reflect in the best interest of the team.
The course started right in the village at the congress hall, in the adjacent park. It was a Le Mans start, meaning on foot with skis in hand or pack. In this case we all had our skis on our packs. We ran across the snow covered field, across and bridge and then ascending a very steep and narrow European road. It wound its way up and up and up. The pavement lasted for quite some time- approx. 200 meters uphill. Finally we put our skins on and commenced a long icy climb. I had issues gripping the icy groomed snow with my skins, which made for a difficult start. The first ascent was 640m. Each descent near the beginning was short and often followed by around 400 meters of climbing. The last little bit emphasized quick transitions as ascent 7 totalled 35 m, with a finish descending 125 m.
The route led the racers through some stunning scenery, up over various peaks and down wide alpine bowls. The majority of the race took place in the alpine. I personally enjoyed the via ferrata section- running across the ridge with a fixed rope. The views were indescribable.
Also of note- during one descent, bombing down the hill, we had a road crossing where traffic was stopped momentarily as racers took their skis off and ran across the road to the other side.
The finish was a fun 2km (ish) skate ski through the village back to the starting line. By that time of day the sun was blaring hot. My partner, Andrew, and I kept the stoke high and pushed hard right to the finish!
Andrew was a great team partner, a man from the UK currently living in Verbier, Switzerland. We had never raced together before, let alone skied together. He was in high spirits and with patience and flexibility we quickly learnt how to work together as a team. This was one more aspect added to our race, trying to pace off each other and move together as one having just met the previous day.
I would highly recommend this course to anyone. It was filled with challenge, excitement, amazing terrain, and majestic mountains.