Light weight race Skimo gear is definitely all that it is cracked up to me. I did this race last year in my moderate weight backcountry gear with Fischer profoil skins and a lassez-faire attitude. I was not as fit coming into it and found that it was a kick starter into my training for the rest of the season.
THIS year it was a different story. Fischer hooked me up with Traverse Carbon boots, Andrew mounted up the crazy light Alp attack skis and I was off to the races. I was excited to see how the tiny carbon skis were in action because I have seen Andrew who is 6' 2" shred on this in all conditions for the last few winters. I was nervous because now I looked the part but was half confident because I was in shape this time. The women who crushes almost all the men in these races was out in Utah at an adventure race which Andrew notified me so kindly before the race. The race for 2nd was a race for 1st.
I had learned last year that it quickly went into a single track trail for the first 2.5 miles so it was critical to not cruise in the back of the pack and push a bit to get into the woods behind people going the same pace. We were basically running on the skis out of the gate and after a mile I was thinking it was the fastest mile EVER on skinning gear. At about 20 min in, I was being trailed by 2 women and I was about to break from not having much anaerobic training. My legs were motors for steady uphill after the BC hut trip but my 'race' pace was not ready. I was able to pull away slightly be not falling on the small technical ups which they were having trouble with.
I was neck and neck with Stephanie from Quebec at the first transition to ski - she passed me when we were back on the ski trail for the last .5 miles up to the transition. I was quick to switch over and never saw her again. The trail this year had been groomed but it has large icy whales and random moguls - otherwise it was a serious high speed power sliding and straight lining it. We were not allowed to 'tuck' so that was hard to not do out of natural instinct.
We then had 2 skin-bootpack-skin sections back up under the quad. There was a ski race going on and I distracted myself with watching them and memories from when I was on the other side of the T-bar. I looked back a few times and was in the clear for the last 2 laps but kept pushing.
I ended up shaving 40 minutes off of last year and winning for the women. I was super proud and happy to have executed as well as I could for the first day with the new gear.