Be Your Own Bode: Meet Randonee Racing

Posted by Jonathan in EQUIPMENT on 02-22-10    No Comments

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If there is ever an organization that does a bad job of promoting new winter sports — and the technologies developed to pursue them — it has got to be the International Olympic Committee. Based on the buzz I got from my Pond Hockey post, it turns out there is a whole flock of cool winter spots that just can’t find IOC love. Case in point: Randonee Racing.

Basically a mountain marathon race, Randonee Racing combines the endurance of cross-country skiing, the technical proficiency of Alpine climbing, and the agility, grace and power of downhill skiing. Contestants line up, a la a marathon race, in a massive grouped start. As many as 1,000 can compete. Each racer holds his or her skis and then runs in specially designed boots for something on the order of 10 kilometers. Competitors then jump into their skis using special free-heel bindings, similar to cross country skis but a whole lot stronger. And then racers climb, skate or  skin up something close to 1,000 vertical meters: A  summit of a nearby 14,000 peak is a usual goal. Racers lock down the heals of their boots, using specially designed bindings that can stand high-speed punishment. And then they blast back down what they just skied up: 40 miles an hour is average. 60 MPH is touched at peak speeds. It’s REALLY cool.

Randonee Racing, or ski mountaineering, is popular around the climbing and skiing world. World-class athletes come not only from Europe and North America, but South America, Russia, Asia and India. Bringing this marvelous sport to the Olympics would open the games to more countries and a new breed of high-quality athlete.

And think how cool the TV would be. Watch maniac racers at the top of a fabulous peak dropping in one after another to race home at top speeds. Pretty awesome.

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