The man on the side of the skin track was visibly frustrated. He struggled to click into his binding in boot-deep snow as the other two racers moved on with their equipment still intact. This one unfortunate, snow-covered individual was apparently having some gear issues. It took me a minute to realize what had happened as I breezed through the switchback next to him: There had just been a multi-skier crash going uphill.
I did not witness the actual pile-up, so it remains unclear what happened. We were all taking part in the Eldora Nighthawks Uphill SkiMo Race, which involved a long climb up a skin track that weaved through the woods, and thanks to a series of recent storms, fairly deep snow. This gave a number of the resort-oriented uphill racers some trouble, but the backcountry-savvy skiers took this to their advantage in a short-but-sweet night race.
As for me, the short course and somewhat technical climbs were advantageous, as I finished in 35th out of 77. Whether or not that means I’m improving in SkiMo racing, or the level of SkiMo is higher in the Roaring Fork Valley compared to the greater Boulder, Colo. area, has yet to be determined.
But, perhaps the biggest takeaway of the night was that the fun, night-time race hosted by Eldora Resort and COSMIC, which happened concurrently with an adult recreational league alpine ski race, is a great way to meet like-minded people to potentially ski with. It would be great to see more ski areas take on a community-oriented night race program, for both uphillers and downhillers.
Also, I need give credit to Tony W., AKA “The Splitboarder.” Tony works in the SKI Magazine offices and competed in the Nighthawks Uphill Race using a splitboard, therefore making the “I can’t race SkiMo because I splitboard” excuse invalid.