2009 PowderKeg

| March 16, 2009

Last Saturday, for the first time in seven years, I was on the other side of the starting line of the Wasatch PowderKeg as a racer instead of an organizer. I love this event and thought it was a goner when Black Diamond and Patagonia pulled their backing out of it this season, but fortunately Chad & Emily Brackelsberg along with Mark & G Christopherson stepped in, stepped up and not only kept the tradition alive, but improved it.  It was a fun event and I’m glad to see that it is now in the sustainable grassroots mode so it stands a good chance of continuing on in the future.

Photos courtesy of Jay Beyer – http://jaybeyer.com

The start, and my moment of glory near the front of the pack. It didn't last long.

As an organizer, the race reminded me of a high-stakes version of the dominoes tip-over game where you set everything up, hope for the best, then when the starting gun goes off, there is not much to do aside from stand back and pray that everything/everybody falls in place accordingly.  The years when the avalanche danger was considerable to high were nerve wracking, and the year that we ran it through the moguls which unfortunately iced-over during the night and almost took out the entire pack were especially memorable.  The ideal is to create a race which is fair, safe and challenging, of which any two variables are easy to achieve, but hitting all three is incredibly difficult.

Casually sniffing around the edges of the Pain Cave, before deciding not to go in.

I’ve always thought that American racers can compete with the best of the Europeans once they/we learned all the tricks of the trade, got the right gear and started to train for racing, and that prediction is starting to come true.  It use to be that if you had the right gear (Dynafit bindings, racing skis and F1 boots), you were guaranteed a podium finish.  Now the majority of the serious racers all have it.  Six years ago, if you were behind on a climb but knew the tricks to a 40 second de-skinning transition, you could regain lost ground.  Now you will be losing time if you can’t transition in 30 seconds or less.  Training in the past entailed a good touring base plus abstaining from excessive beer drinking the night before the race, whereas now people actually train and the results are obvious and impressive.  People are getting consistently faster, which is great to see.

For my part, I ate shit, which was kind of a relief.  I saw Steve Cook, aka Silver Steve at the finish line who is the top medalist in US history for disabled Nordic Skiing, who asked me “Did you visit the Pain Cave?”  The Pain Cave is where you have to go if you really want to win, but when you are looking at the difference between 9th, 10th or 11th place, just looking at the entrance to the cave is fine.  I had a fun time trading places with Chris Covenington from Alta and Eric from Jackson Hole, and didn’t suffer any lung damage as a result, so my race was a success.

Chris Covenington (behind me) kept passing me on the downhills, so I tried to take his eye out with a skin tip loop. It didn't work.

As a confession, on the eve of the race I was debating not doing it as I wasn’t prepared, we had visitors and I had other pressing commitments.  Plus, I knew I was going to get my ass waxed.  But, I’m glad I did as the energy of the event itself is excellent and just being part of it is really what it is all about – thanks Chad, Emily, Mark & G!  Details on the race and info for next year can be found at www.wasatchpowderkeg.com

Help support StraightChuter.com and get a free pass to the Pain Cave with a pair of Dynafit TLT Vertical Race Ti Bindings on sale now at Backcountry.com. Click on the photo below…


Category: Events

About the Author ()

Andrew McLean lives in Park City, Utah and is a gear designer, writer, photographer, ski mountaineer, climber, Mountain Unicycle rider and father of two very loud little girls.

Comments (13)

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  1. Bob says:

    Can I get one of those hoody suits at bc.com?

  2. Lou Dawson says:

    Andrew, nice TR on the race! Great you got out there even though you were busy and knew you wouldn’t be a top dog. As one who’s more speedy days are long gone, I’ve been able to do a few races just for enjoyment and a try for personal best — it’s cool to let go and just enjoy that place, along with the excitement and camaraderie of competition. I couldn’t find the results yet, but I’ll bet you were still making some other folks visit the cave. And I like that skin nunchuk technique — I’ll have to remember that if I have any altercations with snowmobilers, or helicopters (but in that case better make sure the glue isn’t too sticky, or, yikes!).

  3. Andrew says:

    HI Bob – I haven’t checked, but I doubt BC.com carries those, especially in your size (Women’s XS with an XXL crotch). :)

    I picked that subtle green suit up over in Europe and after trying to sell it for a few years, decided it was destiny that I wear it at some point, so I busted it out for the race. Quite stylie.

  4. Bob says:

    Can’t believe you couldn’t sell it. But this is my chance – check your PMs for my generous offer.

    And yeah, it looks like the race was a good time. I’m glad to hear it’s still going on.

  5. Polly says:

    Results are up at http://www.wasatchpowderkeg.com What a fun day!

  6. d3 says:

    I’m really sorry I missed it this year. Nice race, Andrew!

  7. d3 says:

    And you, too, Polly! Racing for 2 …

  8. todd says:

    Good job Andrew, looks like a fun new course. Wish I coulda been there but had to climb Potrero Chico with three hot Chicas. Couldnt miss that opportunity. Peace tg

  9. Lou Dawson says:

    Thanks for the link Polly, like I thought, Andrew still drove quite a few people into that place of pain.

  10. Derek says:

    “Plus, I knew I was going to get my ass waxed. ”

    Interesting, do they do that at the finish line? Does waxing your ass make you faster? Must be a secret of the top Euro’s.

  11. Andrew says:

    Derek – That was some sloppy syntax on my part as what I meant was that I had a lot of other pressing commitments that might keep me from doing the race, including getting my weekly bikini waxing (every Saturday morning at 6:00am – powder or not).

  12. Not to hijack your post, Andrew, but I thought your readers would want to see the photos from the PowderKeg finish line:


    Not exactly the ‘racers foaming at the mouth’ sort of images I was hoping for (in fact, it’s hard to tell if Andrew got anything waxed :), but I had a great time!

    Mostly shot on 8×10 film, which is a bit like burning $20 bills. Enjoy!

  13. Sick race. I think I’ll be ready next year! Looked like a nice day too!

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