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Racers get true face shots

Shauna Farnell
Preston Utley/Vail DailyJosiah Middaugh makes his way up the final stretch of the Beaver Creek Snowshoe Adventure Race, Sunday in Beaver Creek. Middaugh took first place in the 10k race.
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BEAVER CREEK – Face shots took on a new meaning for some racers in Sunday’s snowshoe race at Beaver Creek. Face shots became synonymous with face plants.While everyone else on the mountain was reveling in the fresh powder Sunday, more than 250 snowshoe racers were slogging through it, pulling some extra weight on their feet.Having strayed off course during a two-mile detour in the last Nike ACG/Beaver Creek Snowshoe Adventure series race, Lindsay Krause finished almost four full minutes ahead of Lisa Isom in Sunday’s 10-kilometer race that had competitors running straight up and down trenches of powdery singletrack.Krause finished in 1 minute, 3.50 seconds, while Isom finished in 1:07.47 and Karen Melliar-Smith rounded out the women’s podium in 1:08.36.In addition to breaking trail for all the other racers, Josiah Middaugh was carrying a softball-size snow chunk on one foot between his shoe and his snowshoe for half the race. He still finished first in 57.38, just a hair ahead of Bernie Boettcher (57.39), who won Saturday’s Highline race in Aspen, beating several Nordic skiers as he did the entire race on snowshoes. Dan Nielsen picked up third Sunday in 1:00.00.

“All the fresh snow made it really challenging with the singletrack,” Middaugh said. “I broke into it. The singletrack downhill is so squirrely because there wasn’t really any tracks there, so it was hard to sprint down. There was a track that went through maybe two days ago, but we’ve had a lot of snow since then. It was pretty rough.”Boettcher decided to let Middaugh break trail for him. The uphill race he did in Aspen just the day before consisted of a five or six-kilometer slog straight uphill with 2,900 feet of elevation gain. Some racers competed on Nordic skis with skins, but Boettcher managed to take such a lead snowshoeing up that nobody caught him on the way down.”Coming in (Sunday), I was kind of worn out,” Boettcher said. “So I was hoping that he’d break trail. This race is more difficult because of all the singletrack and snow, but (the Aspen race) is a lot more difficult because it’s a really steep incline. It’s hard to say which is harder.”Snowshoe racers employ different techniques on the uphill portions of the race courses. Middaugh is somebody who rarely breaks out of his trot, even though he acknowledges that it might be faster to powerhike.”I like to keep the run going, even though it doesn’t really look like a run,” he said. “I keep the wheels turning as best I can. Otherwise, I get stale and slow down. I like to run; some people like to powerwalk. It’s questionable what’s faster sometimes. I lose momentum sometimes when I start powerhiking.”Krause feels the same.

“It just depends on how steep it is,” she said. “If it’s really steep, I’ll powerhike, but I think I’m more efficient running than I am hiking. If I can run it, I will. It quickens my steps, it keeps me moving a little bit better. I don’t feel that urge to stop. With powerwalking, I think I slow down quite a bit.”Boettcher, however, has a different philosophy. He feels that changing his cadence from a run to a powerhike saves energy and doesn’t cause him to lose speed.”More often than not, I powerhike,” he said. “I notice when you change position from running, it saves energy. It saves muscle strength, so when you go back to running, you feel like you’ve had a little rest. And sometimes I actually pass people walking that are running. There’s tricks to it – pushing off your knees and leaning over really far when you do it. A lot of people run the whole thing, but I do better when I take little breaks and change the momentum.”In courses like Sunday’s, Isom said some uphill sections were impossible to run on.”On places where it’s the singletrack, there’s guys in front of you who pack it out, and the steps are usually bigger than you would take – you can’t run up that,” she said. “I powerhike. I’ve heard people joking about snowshoeing being powerhiking. But these courses are awesome, especially when we have fresh snow because you’re definitely packing it out. Then you can get on those downhills and just go for it.”



Isom caught a claw and did a face plant on one of the downhills, which consisted of steep, curvy, occasionally off-camber trenches. Several racers fell and slid down them, which isn’t exactly the recommended downhill technique on snowshoes.”The best thing you can do is lean back and slide through it, but it’s really hard to get accustomed to that,” Isom said. “There was one steep section where I totally wiped out. I biffed in the powder, face-first, so I had to swing my legs around and get them back in front of me. It just happens. I caught my toe and did a face plant. The snow was soft, so it’s not like it hurt. It just wakes you up, like, ‘Woo. OK. Let’s go.'”The next Beaver Creek snowshoe race is Feb. 12. For more information, visit http://www.gohighline.com/bcsnowshoe/ or call 970-476-6797, ext.107. The Pedal Power snowshoe racing series, which donates all of the entry fees to charity, continues Jan. 22 with Pazzo’s Colorado State Championships, a nine-mile run on Meadow Mountain 9. For more information, visit the events section of http://www.pedalpowerbike.com or call 970-845-0931.Staff Writer Shauna Farnell can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 610, or sfarnell@vaildaily.com.Vail Colorado


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