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Skinny Skis and Spandex

For ski mountaineers, going up makes going down all the more fun

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A large group of men, women and enthusiastic kids stands around in spandex near the base of the Red Chair at Mt. Bachelor. They wear ultralight, oftentimes carbon fiber boots. Their skis are skinny and made more for uphill travel than downhill turns. It looks like the start of a skate skiing race, but they're on the wrong side of the parking lot and the equipment isn't quite right. What's going on here? 

This is "Ski-Mo Racing."

Intrepid ski-mo racers head uphill during a previous race at Mt. Bachelor. - STEVE ALIBERTI/COAC
  • Steve Aliberti/COAC
  • Intrepid ski-mo racers head uphill during a previous race at Mt. Bachelor.

To find out more about this high endurance winter sport, I sat down with Barry Wicks, local professional mountain biker, avid skier and the manager of the Crow's Feet SkiMo Race team, to learn more about this sport. 

"'Ski Mo' is the shorthand of ski mountaineering. It is climbing mountains and skiing back down. Racing is just doing that fast against other people," he shared, his wide grin showing enthusiasm toward the hyper-specific application of the skiing discipline. "In short," he says, "it is the spandex version of backcountry skiing." 

He shared that the sport can be as simple as skinning fast laps on Mt Bachelor's designated uphill routes or actually signing up for races. Ski mo enthusiasts can look forward to an upcoming race, taking place Feb. 29, put on by the Central Oregon Avalanche Center as part of the Vert Fest event. The planned route will ski laps up "The Cone" and to the Pine Marten Lodge (or, possibly the summit if the weather is good). The race will offer various categories including elite splitboard and ski, recreational splitboard and ski, rookie rally and junior. For more details, check out the COAC website or head into Crow's Feet.

VertFest 2020
Sat., Feb. 29
Mt. Bachelor
More info at coavalanche.org


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