The First Ever United States Ski Mountaineering Association Race Held in Vermont

Despite low snow and gushing rain, thirty-six competitors braved the elements to participate in the inaugural east coast Mountain Hardwear/Life-Link/Dynafit Ski Mountaineering Race held on February 5th, 2006.
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Jackson Hole, Wyoming-February 9, 2006- Despite low snow and gushing rain, thirty-six competitors braved the elements to participate in the inaugural east coast Mountain Hardwear/Life-Link/Dynafit Ski Mountaineering Race held on February 5th, 2006. The eleven mile course started at Mad River Glen, traversed a section of the historic Long Trail to Mt. Ellen, descended into the Slide Brook area then finished at the Sugarbush Mountain Resort. The event featured men's and women's categories in both competitive and recreational divisions. A strong contingent of local New England racers was supplemented by a handful that traveled from as far away as Utah and Quebec to compete.

Beginning with a mass Le Mans start, racers jumped into their bindings and climbed up the Antelope run at Mad River Glen before entering the tight single-track traverse of Vermont's renowned Long Trail. After a mandatory section of down-climbing, racers continued to Mt. Ellen where they descended the groomed Ridge Run, then turned into the off-piste excitement of the FIS trail, which was followed into the Slide Brook area. Here the competitive and recreation divisions split, with the competitive division taking a long climb to the top of Sugarbush while the recreational division diverted towards the finish. Both categories joined up again near the bottom of the Sugarbush resort where they then crossed the finish line in front of the day lodge.

In the men's competitive division, Dave Lamb from Jackson, NH posted the fastest time of the day by completing the course in 2:20:35. He was followed ten minutes later, by PJ Telep of Waitsfield, VT who arrived in 2:30:33, and then fellow Vermonter, Chris Casely who finished third in 2:39:50.

The women's competitive division was won by the 2004 North American Life-Link Randonnee Rally champion, Polly Samuels-McLean from Park City, Utah with a time of 2:50:30. Katy Meyer from Burlington, VT finished in second place with a time of 3:26:28 and was followed by Clarison Were, also from Burlington, with a time of 3:41:00.

Two time Olympian, Doug Lewis from Fayston, VT put on skins for the second time in his life to power through the grueling Recreational course for a first place finish in the Men's division with a time of 2:30:41. Josh Cabell from Huntington, VT finished in second place with a time of 2:46:28 and Dan McDonnell from Canton, NY rounded out the podium with a third place finish in 2:50:38. Emily Johnson from Moretown, VT posted the second fastest time in the entire Recreational Division and took first place in the Women's category with 2:38:44. She was followed closely by Cyndi Lee, from Jamaica Plain, MA who placed second with a time of 2:51:00 and then Kelley Bickford of Waitsfield, VT who finished third in 4:20:45.

"The Sugarbush/Mad River Glen race was an exciting event as the Mad River Valley has such a great racing heritage and so many avid ski mountaineers. It was a tribute to everyone's love of skiing in the area that we had a good turn out, despite the low snow and gushing rain on the day of the race. The east coast has excellent terrain and potential for future racing venues and I'm looking forward to seeing the sport develop there, as well as having the Life-Link series become an annual premier event" stated Andrew McClean a director of the United States Ski Mountaineering Association (USSMA) who sanctioned the race.

The Randonnee Rally Race Series is a series of ski mountaineering races held at some of the premier resorts in North America. The Race Series test the competitor's endurance, equipment and skiing skills while skinning up and skiing down some of the toughest terrain that these resorts and their surrounding mountains have to offer. Proceeds from the race series go to benefit local avalanche forecasting centers and local search and rescue groups. Sponsors of the Series are Mountain Hardwear, Marmot, Arcteryx, Life-Link, Dynafit, Petzl, Couloir Magazine, Backcountry Magazine, Ibex, Off-Piste Magazine, Crazy-Creek, Suunto, Croakies, Outdoor Research, Clif Bar, Honey Stinger, Adventure Medical Kits, Buff Headwear. McNett Revivex, Pro Ski Service, and Mammoth Mountaineering.

Contact: Claire Johnson 800.443.8620 ext 104 or Claire@life-link.com.

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