When Stifel U.S. Ski team member Sophia Laukli’s foray into the world of professional trail running began, the prevailing question was when would this fairy tale string of world class domination end? The answer to that question is now clear; it will end when Sophia Laukli wants it to end.
That conclusion reached a thundering crescendo when Laukli notched another victory in the Golden Trail Series competition. Laukli took first place today in the Pike’s Peak Ascent, winning by almost four minutes.
The Pike’s Peak Ascent is a daunting proposition: a 7,800 foot vertical climb of 13.1 miles, and almost all of it uphill. The race begins in Manitou Springs, Colorado and ends at the improbable lung busting altitude of 14,115 feet. There is no such thing as acclimating to that kind of height.
Laukli commented after the race that she began to throw up about 30 minutes into the run and really didn’t begin to feel good until she hit the mountain’s snow line. She told FasterSkier that “I didn’t have a tactical plan at the start, but then throughout the race I did start thinking more tactically how I should go about the race. I noticed that Judith (Wyder) and I were really running the same pace so I just decided to get in behind her and basically draft until the last two miles where I decided to make a move.” She also told FasterSkier that she will skip next week’s race in Mammoth, California and not race again until the final event on October 19th in Ligura, Italy.
Laukli came into today’s race leading the overall Golden Trail Series rankings. With many of the other top ranked contenders not racing, her victory firmly cemented her position as the leader in the trail series and set the stage for her to do something which few had seriously considered this spring; outright winning the Golden Trail Series.
The Mammoth 26 K race (Mammoth, California) is up next on September 22nd. After that it’s on to the finals in Italy October 19th. The world now knows that a professional skier can dominate the trail running world. After the October finals, the world will find out whether the skier can stand on the top of the podium after a summer of racing.
Another cross-country skier who showed a strong presence was former U.S. team member and long distance specialist David Norris who was the 29th male overall.