Brighton Resort hosted the annual Powder Keg Triple Crown Ski Mountaineering Race Series Friday through Sunday, which doubled as national championships. The series drew riders from the Rocky Mountain region and the United States, but the Utahns have always featured prominently in the results.
The series began with a sprint race on Friday night, in which the runners climbed a short climb to a boot bag and downhill. Gemma Arro of Midway took the first place in the women while Tom Goss of Salt Lake took the first place in the men.
âIt’s about 350 feet of climb, then a descent, laces and a pack of boots,â said race organizer Chad Brackelsberg. âAny little mistake and you’re out of the game. “
Arro showed her strength again on Saturday, where she won first place in the elite race, in which the contestants climbed five climbs totaling 6,500 feet of elevation gain over 10 miles. She finished in 2 hours, 37 minutes and 27 seconds. However, Brackelsberg said, because Arro is not an American citizen (she is Spanish), she was unable to win the title of national champion and qualify for the national team, which means that Sarah Cookler of Salt Lake City was the national sprint champion, while Janelle Smiley was the national elite race champion on Saturday.
John Gaston of Aspen finished first in the elite men’s individual race, crossing the finish line with a time of 2:02:24.
Brackelsberg said the runners faced an arduous boot pack, which was made worse by the weather conditions.
âI think we’ve had our biggest snowfall week (of the season) in the last seven or eight days, and some of the coldest temperatures,â he said. âGood conditions for the race but cold temperatures for the race. “
Ironically, the course was further modified to account for the thin snow cover at the start and end of the course, which usually cut through a stand of trees. Instead, the course stayed on the groomers for the start and finish, which Brackelsberg said would have created a faster course without the weekend wind and snowfall.
On Sunday, John Gaston and Max Taam of Aspen won the men’s 14 mile team event, while Caroline Gleich and Kathryn Bowman of Salt Lake took first place in the women.
Gleich and Bowman finished the race in 5:06:46, while Taam and Gaston finished in 3:07:56.
âSunday was tough,â Brackelsberg said. âWhen we woke up there was 5 to 8 inches of fresh snow with extremely cold temperatures and high winds. We were wondering if we were going to have runners with a wind chill of less than 30. â
Then a semi-truck half-masted on the road to the station, closing it for two hours.
âAt that point, the sun came out and warmed up,â he said.
It was the hottest day of the race.
âYou can never plan something like that as a race director or a runner,â he said.