By Rebecca Dussault
This past Saturday the Boulder Mountain Tour was contested outside of Sun Valley, Idaho. It was a fine day for a race in many ways; the clear cold weather was just fine with me, the grinds on our skis were fine to combat the sharp, cold snow crystals and I for one planned to have a really fine time out on course. The excitement was in the air as we had previous winners and others currently skiing well, all going to line up with the same fine thing in mind, a win at the 2009 Boulder Mountain Tour. My experience with this race was limited. I’d only come here once before and had a victory from that fine day five years ago.
Now, if you’ve never done this race I need to paint a mental picture for you. The start is among the finest in the world with it’s amphitheater- like surroundings. It is wide and white and groomed finely with great precision and snowcapped peaks looming on each side. It is a great race for spectators because the course follows the road back down toward Ketchum. People pull over on the side and cheer, photograph and feed their favorite racers as the come by. The funny thing is that the course is almost all downhill, loosing elevation all the way to the finish line. However it is gradual downhill and requires a ton of balance and skill as you ski high speed in V2 and V2 Alt. most of the way.
At 10:00 the race got underway with 70 elite men followed one minute later by 59 of us elite women. We all took off at a comfortable pace and without any obvious incidence or tangling up. The course begins to fly downhill pretty soon there after and I knew that would be a great first chance to see what my skis had against any of the other racer’s skis. I seemed to have nice fast skis, but not something that was going to blow the others away. Great! I was ready to jam.
The lead pack of five women was sorted out over the next couple of short kilometers with all four Saab/Salomon Factory Team women and a Fischer Craft skier. The pace was comfortable and a couple of us women were rotating really well to the front to take a pull. I felt awesome and tried to up the pace a couple times just to tease and see who could hang. No one seemed to be put in to obvious trouble by these attacks. As the race continued I began to think that it would come down to a sprint at the finish.
This race was hugely tactical as they had included two intermediary sprints or preems of $75 to be collected along the way. I was of course going to challenge for them. The first one was on the horizon and I began to try and get my position. As it ended up, Kristina Trygstad-Saari and I went head to head as I bobbled a little awkwardly pinned on the classic track. I knew they’d need a camera to decide that one. I decided that I wanted the next one decisively and would position myself early.
The race continued at a high pace with everyone maintaining contact for the first 20 km. With 10km to go I played the right tactical card and lifted the speed considerably with 1km to go to the preem. I looked back after the sprint line and realized I’d opened up a little gap. Without pre-meditated intentions to split away at this point, I realized I had the first gap of the race and I should go with it. I checked the internal energy meter and it said there was 10km left in the tank. I took off. I knew they would have to be pretty organized to catch me and believed they might be able to yet. I put my head down and hammered. I only looked up to yell “left” to the men I was passing.
With excitement pounding in me I finally saw the 500m to go banner and I let it rip, passing the last pack of about 10 men which I was able to catch. I crossed the line with a fist pump and then the Sign of the Cross, grateful to God for my 4th victory in as many weeks. My teammates surged hard and it was fun to watch them sprint to the line. So in the end it was a very fine day as I ended up winning both preems and finished 1st with my teammates claiming 2nd, 3rd and 4th for the elite women. Overall I finished 30th out of 689 skiers with a time of 1:16:45 with the men’s winner truning in a time of 1:10:55.