This weekend marked the 17th skiing of the GORE-TEX Grand Traverse, a backcountry ski race that typically covers 40 miles from Crested Butte, Colo. to Aspen. But this year, the race was rerouted due to avalanche danger and run as a reverse from Crested Butte to the Friend’s Hut and back. Still, some 200, two-person teams toed the line in Crested Butte to compete in the third running of the Grand Reverse.
“When we announced that it was going to be a reverse, it was definitely a disappointment for a lot of people,” says Co-Race Director Lindsay Arell. “Regardless, when you get out here, everyone is excited. What’s amazing is the top three teams were all CB skiers.”
Brian Smith and Co-Race Director Bryan Wickenhauser took first place overall, with a time of 7:53:01. Smith and Wick narrowly edged out last-year’s winner, Marshall Thomson, and Dynafit CEO Benedikt Boehm by about six minutes for the win. “It was just a battle…a battle the whole time with Beni and Marshall,” Smith says. “We never really knew we had the race until the last 10 minutes.”
“I was really overwhelmed by the support, camaraderie and friendship,” says Boehm, who was competing in the race for the first time.
“It was definitely harder than going to Aspen,” says Jari Kirkland, first-place female finisher alongside Stevie Kremer in a time of 9:42:22. “It was so cold coming down that the snow out there was like styrofoam…no glide whatsoever. We just double-poled for the nine miles out. It was brutal.”
“Every year is different, even if it’s the same course,” Co-Race Director Arell says. “I thought certain parts were harder,” adds Pat O’Neill, perennial racer and winner of the coed division alongside three-time Olympian Rebecca Dussault. “They wanted to give us a great race.”
For full results from the 2014 GORE-TEX Grand Traverse, click here.