The 2003 Life-Link/Dynafit Randonnee Rally series began in Whistler, British Colombia, Canada. Canadian Gregory Hill, of Revelstoke, pulled off an amazing up-set as he over-took favored Jeff Banks on the final downhill. Hill finished with a time of one hour 30 minutes and fifteen seconds. Banks, the 2002 Jackson Hole Champion, finished second and Brendan OíNeil, the 2001 Champion, come in third. Nancy Johnston, the women’s 2001 Jackson Hole Champion, placed first in the women’s race category with a time of one hour 58 minutes and 15 seconds. Heather Paul came in second and Polly Samules third.
“The Whistler Blackcomb venue was one of the more spectacular race sites we have visited. The amount and variety of both inbounds and out of bounds terrain is truly amazing.” stated John Scott Executive Vice-President of Life-Link. “The Whistler Ski Patrol designed a dramatic race course. Like true ski mountaineering, the course went out of bounds, up beautiful peaks and down steep ridges,” said course director Tim Kelley.
The ski-mountaineering race, which tests the endurance, equipment and skiing skills of competitors, was part of the Whistler Blackcomb Big Mountain Experience weeklong mountain festival. Kelley added, “racers surprised us, making incredibly fast time over the course that included 5,000 feet of uphill, a morale crushing boot-pack and wild downhills.” The first place winners took home over $1,000 in cash and prizes, but everyone left with great raffle prizes. All competitors receive points towards the race series championship, which will be decided after the fifth and final race in Jackson Hole.
The race series continues at *Crested Butte on February 16th, *Alpental, Washington on February 23, *Stevens Pass, Washington on March 9, and culminates in the *North American Championships on March 22, in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
Sponsoring the series are Marmot, Cloudveil, Petzl, Mt. Hardwear, Powder, Couloir Magazine, Off-Piste Magazine, Croakies, Daggers, Clif Bar, Arcíteryx, Boeri, Suunto, Adventure Medical Kits, Crazy Creek, Honey Stinger, and the American Alpine Club.