Sunday, February 24, 2008

Spring is in the air and....

... smiles are on our faces!   What an amazing weekend of training!  Some pics from our ride today, fueled by delicious homemade banana bread french toast (a.k.a. the breakfast of champions) we had good times, fast legs, fun riding!  

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Race Report: YETI #3 Grouse Mountain

Big Jay Latiff  - Hammer Down





It was another early morning wake-up for Team Helly Hansen as racers Jeff Riemer, Kristenn Magnusson, Justin Mark and Jay Latiff made the dash for the 6:30 am boat to Horseshoe Bay. The team was joined by trainer/coach/photographer Carey Sather 3 time overall women's 10km Yeti Champion now 11 weeks pregnant carrying twins. With team members Stephan Jakobson, Ceri Merritt, Robin Dutton, John Loewen and Bobbie Taylor unable to race Team Helly met up with their last minute addition and potential saviour Andreas Hestler at the base of Grouse. Andreas had joked earlier in the week about skipping the tram ride and hiking to the top. Turned out he was serious. After a bumpy and nauseated trip up the skytram (I freaking hate amusement park rides.) The team crammed into the washroom to gear up for the day's event. Dreams of blue skies and high sunshine were dashed by a cold fog mixed with light snow. Earlier in the season I had promised the team that each course would be progressively easier, I was wrong. The Grouse course, with 15cm of new snowfall and fresh cut powder singletrack, turned out to be a real grind. Colin Dignam and Andrew Clarke led the race out, followed closely by a half dozen other racers, including team HH members Justin Mark and Jeff Riemer. Jason Loutitt who was running very strong made a hard charge on the hills to take the lead halfway through the race. The top 10 stayed relatively close until the summit. Usually in most races the uphills is where the race is decided, however  a 2km straight shot descent to the finish really favoured the strong downhill runners. Justin, Andreas and Jeff finished 7th, 8th and 9th overall respectively, each losing a couple places on the downhill. Jay Latiff finished up in the top 20 with his strongest race to date and Kristenn finished in 4th just off the podium. Despite missing half the team, it looked like Team Helly was going to pull out an overall team victory. No such luck, turns out Andreas had secretly defected to TEAM ATLAS CANADA earlier that morning, succumbing to a lucrative contract offered up by cunning team manager and course designer Dave Howells. Helly's fate was sealed, outmanuevered and undergunned the team failed to qualify for the Team Category with only 4 racers. Seems like I have a lot to learn about being a GM in the cutthroat world of professional snowshoeing. Team Helly Hansen would like to thank the organizers for a fantastic event and all the wonderful volunteers for donating their Saturday. See everyone at the Snowshoe Championships at Cypress.

Written by J. Mark

Sunday, February 3, 2008

RACE REPORT: YETI #2 Mt. Seymour

Kristenn's unique stretching routine

Team Helly Hansen Vancouver Island

Justin Mark of Team Helly

It was a miserable 5 AM start for Team Helly Hansen Vancouver Island as Jeff, Kristenn, John, Justin, Stefan and Ceri boarded the 6:30 AM ferry from Nanaimo to Horseshoe Bay.  Halfway across the strait snow started falling, cleary a daunting sign.  The race looked to be very competitive as Team Atlas, and Team Yeti were on display with their new jerseys.  This year's version of the race boasted a new demanding course that consisted of two smaller loops sandwiching a larger loop on the west side of the mountain.  The race started out on a downhill with Stefan setting the pace followed by Andrew, Justin and Gary.  Last year's Yeti Cypress winner Colin Dignam of Team Atlas made a strong move halfway through the first loop to move to the front of pack.  The course was excellent, different from Mt. Washington in that much of the race was run on established singletrack snowshoe trails. To make things more challenging, course designer Dave Howells threw in some freshly tracked powder sections.  After completing the grueling second loop many of the athletes thought the race over, only to be led out for the last 3km loop.  It was definitely a tough race. In the end to no one's surprise the race was won by Helly Hansen's Stefan Jacobson, followed by Colin Dignam and Andrew Clarke.  Helly's Justin Mark and Jeff Riemer rounded out the top 10. John Loewen finished strong with a smile on his face and admitted that snowshoeing is a far departure from conventional running.  On the womens side of things the race was won by Cheryl Beatty who beat most of the mens field.  Ceri and Kristenn both finished in the top 10.  For the team awards Team Helly had to settle for 2nd, losing to North Shore Athletics by 20 seconds. In the overall series results this puts the two teams dead even, as a miscalculation in the Mt. Washington results accidentally awarded 1st place to North Shore Athletics when in reality Team Helly Hansen had won by 20 seconds.  This sets up a great battle at Grouse Mountain. Can't wait. Team Helly Hansen Vancouver Island would like to thank the organizers and volunteers for hosting another excellent event.

 Check out the video of the start!