If you enjoy backcountry skiing where you feel as if your being chased, and you are never allowed to stop and rest, I have just the sport for you. Euro ski rando racing.
I have been talking about the Tour de Sas for the last week because I was excited to try this sport and much of my recent training has been focused on surviving what I knew would be a fast and competitive event. It was. Additionally, the race is 20 minutes right up the valley from where we live, so it is a local event.
From the morning start in Alta Badia, where AC/DC’s Highway to Hell was blaring, to four hours later when I crossed the finish line, my heart rate rarely dropped below 170. Charging up the climbs, trying to pass outside the track, frantic transitions (skins on/skins off) and insanely fast descents (confirmed, no turning) all characterize this sport.
It was obvious it was going to be a hard day when, 5 minutes into the race, I checked my heart rate and saw I had already burnt 92 calories. This actually gave me some number crunching to do in anticipation of the post race pasta feed. Just how much pasta is 4000 calories anyway?
Overall, a brilliant experience, to say I loved it is an understatement. I have some new visuals in my head; skiing down from the San Antonio at frightening speed with ridiculously soft ski boots on, out of the corners of my eyes, both sides, I see cartwheeling humans. I was hanging on for dear life as my skis were pointed straight to the bottom and my body was getting tossed around in the chopped up powder. Speaking of which, how very odd to ski great snow and NOT make turns, rather to ski the slop because it is faster.
The finish was a blessing for more than just getting to stop. I was able to seek a new song, other than Highway to Hell, to have in my head. My time, 4 hours, 118th out of 290. I am happy. The winner…? 2:48. Amazing to think of the speed the leaders maintained. So inspiring. I have some serious learning to do.
Many thanks to the organizers; Daniele, Paolo, Andrea and the always wonderful (and our partner) Igor Tavella – for the cushy hotel room and massively tasty calorie packed dinner. And next year I will be back, complete with lycra suit.
Janine was on hand to make some snaps from the event: The 2009 Tour de Sas