Thursday, March 19, 2015

NarvikRando- a track setter's perspective.

The inaugural Narvik Rando went down this past Saturday, with about 55 skiers (31 in the race category/ 24 in the tourist category) toeing the line. From most accounts it seems like everyone had a pretty good time and are psyched to return next year.

The whole event has been many months in the planning, with Micke at the head of a troupe of volunteers (myself included). Plenty of meetings, lengthy online discussions and countless hours went it to the whole thing and it was a relief that it all went roughly according to plan.

I was responsible for setting the track (but got a LOT of help from Andreas, Micke, Jon and Mike) which was necessarily carried out pretty much at the last minute. A few days of very stiff winds (gale force above tree line the day before) followed by a night of heavy precip (which came as rain below tree line) created some real challenges and forced some changes in the course even in the last few hours leading up to the race.

I’m not making excuses, and the following is really just a record/call for comments to draw on in the future in order to make next year’s race even better.
  • Flags. A ski mountaineering race like this (1650metres of vert.) eats up a LOT of course marking flags. Next year we need about 2x the number we had this year. Or better yet 3x as many. I think composite sticks would be more durable than bamboo sticks like we had this year, but maybe a bit more expensive.
  • Hi-viz spray paint works well when you don’t have enough flags. But they are certainly no replacement as it gets covered by windblown snow and isn’t visible as something poking above the skyline.
  •  Skins tracks should be mellow and bootpacks should have steps that even short people can comfortable manage. I feel like this aspect was done okay, but a few sections of the skinner were on wind scoured slopes and the booter had some sugary sections which made it tricky to maintain much consistency.
  • Transition zones ought to be on flat terrain. The skin to boot transition this year was all off-kilter (because I didn’t have time to shovel it level).
  •  Track setting (at a reasonable standard) is a bigger job than I had anticipated. Ideally an even bigger crew should be involved and an even earlier start is probably wise.
  •  Last minute changes to the course (due to weather/avalanche hazard/ surface conditions etc.) are stressful and create a shit load of extra work. Having a course which can be skied in any sort of weather/snowpack would likely mean that the course is not sufficiently challenging, so a certain degree of flexibility is of course necessary. However having a very firm plan at least two days before the race starts will ensure a lot more efficiency in setting the track and lead to it being of a higher quality.

All things considered I think it went pretty well and I’m psyched for next year and making the event even better. I didn’t get a chance to take any photos during the competition. But there are some photos and reports in Norwegian from FriFlyt here and from Kondis here.

Below are a couple photos from some other outings this past week, ‘cause a blogpost without photos ain’t much apparently.

Lapping the backside of Linken with Damien and Sarah from Schweiz

Mike's first ever skin to Tredjetoppen

Mike scoping lines from 3de.

Some decent turns on solar aspects earlier this week- this is in one of the 5 fingers.

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