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Monster Enemy lines today
Twelve athletes will be racing down the Lizard headwall at Fernie Alpine Resort today chasing the $20,000 purse and the notoriety that goes with a crazy big mountain race. A ski and snowmobile legend, Dan Treadway is behind the scenes organizing the Monster event and he explained the challenges of the venue.
“It combines every aspect, big mountain, line choice, racing and variable snow conditions. Other than being totally insane, this event has everything a mountain can throw at you. The headwall is an impressive ski and looking down at it is intimidating, especially racing with twelve people.”
Treadway helped put the first venue together in 2013. If the weather clears, this will be the first year for the race to start from the ridge top. Last years venue had rivers of water running down the headwall forcing the race to start at the base of the headwall.
“I think it's anyone's race,” said Treadway. “The headwall is intimidating and then there's racing the bowl. These [big mountain] skiers are not used to racing; they are used to thinking about the line and how it looks rather than the speed.”
The twelve men racing today are a mixture of skier cross racers and big mountain skiers. Lars Chickering-Ayers, Rory Bushfield (widower of Sarah Burke), Ben Rex Ogilvie, Stan Rey, 2013 winner, Logan Pehota and Brady Leman. Leman placed forth at the 2014 Sochi Olympics in skiers cross. “It's cool to just let us go as fast as possible,” said Leman.
Phil Hudec is also competing. His brother is Jan Hudec who won the bronze medal in the super-G at the 2014 Winter Olympics. Tristan Tafel, Ryan Oakden, Matt Richard, Dylan Crossman, and Ben Wheeler are also competing.
This race is by invitation only. Monster Energy invited 24 skiers to ski in the qualifiers on Friday. With five heats of four skiers each, the first and second skiers over the finish line made the finals. Stan Rey had a buy in from his 2013 win. Ben Ogilvie won the last of twelve spots after the remaining twelve did a mass start down the headwall and he finished first.
Racers are waiting at the top of the Polar Peak chair in the warm up hut for the visibility to clear. In the morning briefing session, Fernie Ski Patrol reviewed the snow conditions on the Lizard headwall and in the bowl. There will need to be visibility for patrol to allow the skiers to be escorted along the ridge for their inspection run. Weather dependant, the racers will then be ferried up again via Ascent helicopters for the mass start finals or they may reach the ridge again by the Polar Peak chair.
The starting gun for the final will be an avalanche bomb which patrol will set off. With a third of second delay in sound, the official start is the visual of the bomb going off which could make a difference in who gets out of the gate first.
In a race this intense, safety is paramount with reports of snow and weather conditions, and avalanche control/ abatement and risk assessed by the Fernie Ski Patrol. All racers and individuals along the ridge must wear an avalanche transceiver.
As the skies clear, keep your eyes peeled for the racers catapulting themselves down the headwall.
The awards ceremony is scheduled for 3 pm in the FAR plaza today and a party with DJ is happening until 11 pm tonight.
To see who won, go to http://www.thefreepress.ca/news/254060231.html.