With an enormous volume of snow falling from the sky, causing near white-out conditions amidst the gusting winds, 14 teams still showed up on Jan. 8 to compete in the backcountry orienteering adventure race Winter Blue on the back side of the Northstar-at-Tahoe ski resort in California.
After trading off the grueling trail-breaking lead with telemark ski teams, Team Atlas Snow-Shoe finished in first place. Wearing only snowshoes and without the advantage of any gliding devices for the many gravity-assisted descents, Adam Chase and Ross McMahan took advantage of the weather snow conditions and demonstrated their strong physical advantage and navigating ability. Chase is the team captain and founder of the 45 member Atlas Snow-Shoe racing team. For more info, visit www.atlassnowshoe.com.
Winter Blue also featured a new player, the Airboard -- www.airboard.com. Three teams, in fact, opted for Airboards -- snowshoes for flats and uphills, Airboards for downhill gliding. Team Airboard (which included our intrepid reporter, Cameron Martindell -- www.offyonder.com) managed a very respectable fourth place finish. Best described as an inflatable boogie board for the snow, the Airboard has two handles on top and TPU (thermal plastic urethane) rails on the bottom to provide surprisingly good maneuverability on both groomed slopes and the many feet of fresh powder on the backcountry course.
"The best part about the Airboard was I could hold it up and use it as a wind break against the brutal winds out there," Rick Mackintosh, a member on Team Airboard told SNEWSÂ®. "We were actually able to glide faster than the telemark skiers at times because they couldn't be bothered to remove their skins."
For more information about Winter Blue, go to www.bigblueadventure.com.