TAMBRE (Italy), 24th February 2017 – Clouds and a grey sky did not prevent the athletes to grab the first shining medals of the 2017 ISMF world Champs. Damiano Lenzi, from Italy and Laetitia Roux from France were the best athletes on course on what turned out to be a very technical world Champs opening. Kilian Jornet Burgada, Spain,and Maude Mathys, Swiss, took silver, while Anton Palzer, Germany,
and Axelle Mollaret, France, completed the podium.
The Individual race took place in Val Salatis, 10 km from Tambre, a very well kept secret of this valley which, in ancient times, was inhabited by Cimbiran people and strong woodmen and is today one of the
backcountry main destination of the area. In the Senior and Espoir race there were 49 ladies and 75 men to cross the start line, representing 25 countries. The mixed zone and the finish area was set at approximately quota 1300 metres: the audience had to walk up for some 20 minutes and so did the athletes themeselves, thus giving the chance to their supporters and fans to witness live how they prepare and warm up. Among the most enthusiasts were groups of pupils from the local school who awaited cheerful as ever the flowers ceremony.
Tambre, a pleasant village in north east Italy, in between Venice and the Dolomites, has been the perfect kingdom for the first performances of the ISMF worldwide event. “We are very proud of hosting
again an international skimo event – said Diego Svalduz, president of the local organizing Committee -, because ski mountaineering has always been in our Dna: we hope you will like and appreciate our
mountains”. During the opening ceremony, on thursday night, it was a swiss athlete to
light up the world Championships torch:Caroline Ulrich will turn 15 years old in a few days and went very emotional as she was among the younger girls in the bunch: “She represents all of you – said Lluis Lopez,
ISMF Vice President – but she represents also the future of skimo where we all are heading to. So compete and have fun with fair play and commitment”, was the wish of the international Federation, echoed
by the words of Flavio Roda, president of Fisi – Italian winter sports Federation: “Ski mountaineering is constantly increasing and we should take care of its values and promote them also along the olympic path we are following”.
The LOC – local organizing Committee was very much challenged by both weather and snow conditions. The high temperature of the last days left a very crusty snow cover in the valley which suggested to adapt the route to the new conditions. Then clouds, some rain drops and a bit of wind mixed once again the cards. The competitors had to face 4 climbs and descents: 1682 D+ for men, 125 D+ less for the ladies.
The whole track was off piste and went through a thick wood, opening up in the last section, just below quota 2000 metres in time to caress the Monte Castelat ridge in the horizon. Laetitia Roux had a precise strategy: to take the lead from the beginning in the very narrow start, in order to give full gas already from the first climb. Damiano Lenzi has also been playing as a solo leader run but Burgada and Palzer, who recently recover form health problems, were always close and ready to fight till the end. For all the guys on course it has a been a matter of visibility and courage. All the ascents were very technical, the first having just a single track, the third to be run half skies on, and half skies in the rucksack with a very crucial transition area in the middle.
Some rocks and loads of bumbps make it not an easy task for both the leaders
and the cahsing pack. Tomorrow the Individual will be run by junior and cadets, while on Sunday
it will be Team race time, always in the remote and beautiful Val Salatis.
Damiano Lenzi (ITA): “I felt confident because my shape is good. Nevertheless the conditions were tough today and along the tracks I had three times problems with my skies. So Kilian Jornet Burgada got closer a couple of times. But it was my lucky day and my experience in cross country skiing also was very helpful not to lose the leadership! I come from the opposite side of the Alps, but my skimo career started here in 2008 so these places are in my heart and a gold medal here today paid off after some hard times”
Laetitia Roux (FRA): “Conditions were tough but I like this kind of challenge and I do not care racing in clouds and wind. This morning, though, I was worried about the starting: because sprint start is not by best quality. So I really gave all I had in the start and then I hoped to keep some energy for the race itself. In the descent, especially the second, I started very fast but I soon realized that I could only see one red flag per time, which meant visibility was very poor. That is when I literally felt myself taking off and I fell down, luckily lading in fresh snow. So I decided to slow down a bit and I am so glad the medal is still made of gold. I will know go to Russia for the Cism Games, but will be back for the Relay race”
For results see here
For pics see here