The 8th Annual Ken Jones Classic

 

Editor's note: The sport of ski mountaineering racing ("skimo" for those in the know) combines skiing and mountaineering skills over medium distances, incorporating technical ascents and descents. The ACC, along with Ski Mountaineering Competition Canada (SMCC), is the national federation for the sport in Canada.

The Ken Jones Classic at Lake Louise is one of the bigger and more prestigious races on the annual calendar and this past year the 8th annual served as Canada’s National Championships and as the ISMF (the international body) Pan American Championships.

Here, David Dornian, chair of SMCC, gives us a quick look behind the scenes at how the Ken Jones Classic came to be Canada’s first internationally sanctioned skimo race. Enjoy. 


 One of the wild descents in the individual race at the Ken Jones Classic, March 25th, 2018. Photo by Casey Marshall.

One of the wild descents in the individual race at the Ken Jones Classic, March 25th, 2018. Photo by Casey Marshall.

It was Labour Day weekend and I was in Paris. Sun dappled the canal across the cobbles, under the leaves outside the window of the FFME (federation francaise de la montagne et de l escalade) conference room we were meeting in. There were pictures of the Dru on the wall. Ski posters. There was an ice axe that once belonged to a famous dead guy.

We were the Management Committee of the International Ski Mountaineering Federation and we were talking about the competition calendar for the coming year. I was saying "Nous sommes pret. Bien sur. Lake Louise. Elle est tres bonne pour la Championat des Ameriques." Perhaps I was addled by espressos and jet lag. The Spanish guy to my right looked startled, then clapped me on the shoulder. The Swiss woman across the table, head of the ISMF anti-doping commission, nodded slowly. The ISMF’s Italian president sat back in his chair and beamed. The French raised their eyebrows.

I was bullshitting. But I figured it would be okay: we – Ski Mountaineering Competition Canada – had been running the Ken Jones Classic at Lake Louise Ski Area for the past seven years. Sure, we didn’t have a date for the 2018 edition of the race yet, or sponsors committed, and I hadn’t checked in with the ski area admin at Lake Louise in about five months...but they were all likely still fishing in Mexico or back in Australia anyway. I hadn’t talked with my long-time organizing partner for the event, Ryan Johnstone, since we parted in a muddy parking lot the previous spring, but he was good at commitment. His wife once told me that.

And by the first of our scheduled three race days for the ISMF Pan American Ski Mountaineering Championships – 23, 24, 25 March 2018 – everybody had signed on. The snow safety staff at The Lake had stepped up with a big-league-worthy course. We had wheedled volunteers from all the other events that had happened over the winter. The racers remained enthusiastic, even after one of the longest race seasons in recent memory.

We had two kinds of medals to award. My wife Brenda had looted every grocery outlet in Calgary for souvenir bottles of maple syrup. The Americans were coming! The Brazilians and the Argentines weren’t! The races would be the last chance on this continent for Cadet-aged juniors to earn a ranking for a place in the 2020 Youth Olympic Games. The parents were coming!

Here’s some pictures from it all. You can find out more about the sport of skimo in Canada at www.skimocanada.org and if you dig in the tabs on that website you’ll find the results of all the racing, too.

   
  
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  The pleasant conditions for the start of the Vertical Race on March 23rd belied the brutal final kick to the finish 600m above (next photo). Photo by Casey Marshall.    
  
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The pleasant conditions for the start of the Vertical Race on March 23rd belied the brutal final kick to the finish 600m above (next photo). Photo by Casey Marshall.

 The final kick to the finish. Photo by Casey Marshall.

The final kick to the finish. Photo by Casey Marshall.

   
  
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  Typical gear is lighter than what you likely use for ski touring, but not by a lot. Photo by Casey Marshall.

Typical gear is lighter than what you likely use for ski touring, but not by a lot. Photo by Casey Marshall.

   
  
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  Arnaud Cote Boisvert came all the way from Magog, Quebec, to race in Western Canada, to prepare for his entry in the  Pierra Menta , later in April. Photo by Casey Marshall.

Arnaud Cote Boisvert came all the way from Magog, Quebec, to race in Western Canada, to prepare for his entry in the Pierra Menta, later in April. Photo by Casey Marshall.

   
  
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  The Individual race on March 25th featured some tall, complicated ascents. Photo by Casey Marshall.

The Individual race on March 25th featured some tall, complicated ascents. Photo by Casey Marshall.

 Findlay Eyre of Calgary, winner in the Cadet Male category. Photo by Casey Marshall.

Findlay Eyre of Calgary, winner in the Cadet Male category. Photo by Casey Marshall.

 Ema Chlepkova of Calgary (top step) and Morgan Fortin of Colorado take gold and silver in the Cadet Female category. Future Olympians? Photo by Casey Marshall.

Ema Chlepkova of Calgary (top step) and Morgan Fortin of Colorado take gold and silver in the Cadet Female category. Future Olympians? Photo by Casey Marshall.


Learn more about skimo and the ACC

ACC Logo no text 2.jpg

The Alpine Club of Canada and Ski Mountaineering Competition Canada (SMCC) make up the National Federation governing the sport in Canada through their membership and participation in the International Federation of Ski Mountaineering (ISMF).

The ACC/SMCC coordinate the race calendar, record results, and keep athletes’ rankings, select national teams for international events, train and certify race officials, etc.