The Boulder Mountain Tour is delighted to announce Zions Bank remains the event’s title sponsor for the fifth consecutive year.
Tracy Groll, Regional President of Idaho Resort Banking, remarked, “We enjoy partnering with the BMT because it supports the local community and we believe it’s extremely important to invest and participate in the communities where we have a presence.”
Bob Rosso, a longtime board member and local business owner, concurred, “We are really thrilled to have Zions back as our title sponsor. Zions has really terrific people who back us up, give us support, and share really creative ideas. It is an excellent relationship and one we are very appreciative of.”
Boulder Board President John Reuter added, “Long-term sponsorship is incredibly important for the BMT because it allows us to make educated planning decisions toward growing the event and maximizing the positive impact of the BMT on the community as a whole. Specifically, Zions’ five-year sponsorship has allowed us to increase our marketing and outreach, improve our timing and results, modernize our website, and deliver a “presentation” to visitors that highlights this amazing valley in which we live.”
Salt Lake City is the corporate headquarters for Zions Bank, which does business in 10 different western states in the U.S. In addition to Idaho and Utah, Zions and its subsidiaries have locations in Oregon, Washington, California, Colorado, Nevada, Arizona, and Texas. There are two branches in the Wood River Valley in Ketchum and Hailey. (Tip: Check out the freshly-baked cookies offered every Friday).
Notable among Zions Bank’s BMT enthusiasts are Mark Garfield, Senior Vice President of International Banking, who participates with his whole family. This year, seven skiers related to the family were in the field, and Garfield semi-jokingly says that one of the criteria to marry into the family is being able to ski the Full Boulder.
“That is exactly the case!” Garfield exclaimed.
Of course, being a zealous cross country skier helps, and Garfield is a prime example of how Zions encourages its employees to exercise and take care of themselves and how that philosophy spreads to the greater community as well.
“As a bank organization, we are encouraged to stay active and healthy and have incentives to do so. I believe the handful who do participate (in the Boulder) recognize the superb course conditions and beautiful landscape Sun Valley has to offer,” Groll said.
Community is at the heart of the Boulder Mountain Tour, and that is readily apparent in the remarks offered by both Groll and Reuter.
“Having Zions Bank remain as our title sponsor demonstrates Zions’ long-term commitment to supporting our local community. The BMT is technically just a ski race, but it’s actually a celebration of Wood River Valley – its natural beauty, its welcoming people, its local businesses. Zions Bank understands that supporting the BMT is really supporting the place we call home,” Reuter remarked.
“I think the biggest thing I would like people to know is that we really do support our community – whether it’s a sporting event, the arts, nonprofits, or cultural – it’s important to us. We are invested,” Groll said.
The Zions Bank Boulder Mountain Tour is the premier cross country ski marathon in the western United States. Held annually on the first Saturday of February, the Tour’s 34k route travels from Galena Lodge on the historic Harriman Trail in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area to the finish line across from SNRA Headquarters. There is also a 15k Half Boulder that begins at Baker Creek. The event attracts upwards of 1,000 people with more than 50 percent of participants from out of town, representing 23 states and three countries. This year’s race is on Saturday, February 1, 2020. Registration opens on July 1 at www.skireg.com.
2019 Zions Bank Boulder Mountain Tour champs Erika Flowers and Peter Holmes know what it takes to train hard, build fitness and stay engaged over the long haul. They recently shared their training tips and methods with us and we are sure you will be as inspired (or tired!) as we were. Thank you, Erika and Peter!
Over the past 12 months, I’ve traded spandex for pointy shoes and boot bags for a black purse while making the transition from full-time athlete and racer to a more traditional work gig. Although ski training no longer dictates my day-to-day schedule, I continue to set goals and races for the summer and winter that guide my adventures outside the office. I loved ski racing professionally and even though it’s no longer my “job,” I’ve found I appreciate even more. Anytime I get out for a workout or race its 100 percent my choice and like peanut butter and granola, I’m completely addicted.
Balancing work alongside ambitious performance goals depends on consistency, quality and flexibility. They say “skiers are built in the summer” and putting in the work during the next 3-4 months sets the foundation for successful racing in the winter. My ski training today is less structured than when competing as a professional athlete but I tend to follow the same general training trends: volume and threshold in the summer, shifting to more L4 intensity and time-trials in the fall, all underlined by consistent and intentional strength training, mobility, and speedwork. I also refer to my husband and long-time ski racer Andy Newell and the Nordic Team Solutions website for workout and strength ideas specific to different times of the year.
Building a strong base for winter racing depends on getting out the door on a consistent basis. This summer I’ve mapped most of my training around The Rut, a 50km trail race in Big Sky on September 1. During the fall, that focus will shift towards more ski-specific training to prepare for SuperTour racing, the Boulder Mountain Tour and the Birkie. Regardless of focus, I like to prioritize three “key” workouts each week – typically an interval workout, a speed workout and a distance or technique session. Working full-time isn’t always conducive to a ton of training time, so if I do nothing else during the week, I try to at least complete those three “key” workouts. Tackling three quality workouts each week ensures consistent training throughout the summer and fall and is much more doable than trying to fit in the 6-10 different workouts I often completed each week while racing professionally. I also aim to get into the gym twice each week and take one day completely off, perhaps adding in a yoga session to prevent injury and work on mobility. While training for The Rut, most of those “key” sessions will be on foot, either running or hiking, however, in the fall that will shift to more roller-skiing and ski-specific intensity. In general, I start with relatively moderate volume and will build hours throughout the summer with my biggest month of training taking place in August.
Allowing some flexibility and grace has also helped me keep the fun factor alive when it comes to skiing and racing. I’ve always raced my best when I’m happy, so I make time for adventures with friends that fill up my happiness bucket – even if it means shifting some of those type-2-fun workouts around. I’ve added a few different running races to the schedule including the Jim Bridger Run and Bangtail 38km along with a number of weekend backpacks and trail adventures to explore some new routes and terrain. Mixing up training modes also keeps me injury free and excited to get out the door. Although a mediocre mountain biker at best, I aim to get out on the bike at least once a week. I also roller-ski a few times a week and will continue to add in more roller-skiing intensity and speed work as we get closer to the fall and more ski-specific training. In mapping out workouts and goals, I also like prioritize opportunities to train with others. I’ve found that the quality of a workout and the happiness it generates both seem to go increase with the addition friends and training partners!
As a full-time racer, I always pushed the limits, testing the number of hours or intensity my body could handle. Even as a junior, I was the kid who did the extra interval and wouldn’t stop moving until my watch hit the exact workout time or went a bit over. If I’ve learned anything from taking a step back from professional racing, it is that rest, recovery and adventures with friends can be just as powerful as that extra interval session when paired with a consistent, quality workouts. Looking forward to a summer of exploring new terrain and new possibilities!
Erika Flowers is a Montana native, cross-country ski racer and mountain athlete learning to mix the worlds of work, competition and play. She works for Profitable Ideas Exchange in Bozeman, Montana, and is an Editor-at-Large for Cross-Country Skier Magazine. She also writes for social impact consultancy Carol Cone ON PURPOSE. Previously, Erika raced professionally for the SMS T2 Elite team in Stratton, Vermont. Erika represented the U.S. at World Cup Finals in 2017, finished third at U.S. Nationals that same year and third in her American Birkebeiner debut in 2016. She has earned multiple U.S. SuperTour podiums over the course of her career and continues to race and compete. Erika also won the Boulder Mountain Tour in 2019 after finishing second in 2018. Erika graduated from Dartmouth College in 2012, earning three-time All-American Honors and got her skiing start with the Bridger Ski Foundation in Bozeman. When not skiing or working, Erika can be found at Wild Crumb in Bozeman downing a caramel roll or breakfast sandwich or attempting to catch fish with a fly line or waves with a surfboard.
Summer training for a professional cross-country skier is very demanding, well thought out, and can be a lot of fun. I am excited to be spending another year with the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation Gold Team. We have a lot of good resources and a number of great coaches who have helped me improve immensely thus far and will continue to help me get faster. It should be a summer full of good training. Let’s break it down a little.
To get into the technical details of the training plan, it is very simple to first look at it as a whole and then break it down into individual parts. First off, cross-country skiers train everything in hours. We do this because our training activities vary immensely. Unlike runners, whose primary training method is running and measurement is miles, we ski on snow, but also run, rollerski, bike, bound, hike, and use the gym. All of these modes only really have one constant measurement in common: time. The training year generally starts on the first of May. Rather than splitting the year into months, we break down the training and racing cycles into thirteen four-week periods. This way each period is the same length, and it is easy to compare month to month and year to year.
Generally, each period consists of four different types of weeks. We mostly train a medium week followed by two hard weeks and then a recovery week. The medium week includes about 16-20 hours with two to three intensity sessions. One of the hard weeks focuses more on volume, around 20-25 hours, and has only one or two intensity sessions. The other hard week shifts the focus more towards intensity. During the intensity hard week, we will train a couple hours less than volume week, but we will include three or more higher intensity sessions. After the three weeks of varying difficulty, a recovery week is used to absorb the training and bounce back stronger. Recovery weeks usually end up around 12-15 total hours and have only one or two intensity sessions. Building and tapering within each period throughout the year allows us to load the body with training and then absorb the training to become stronger and more fit. If we do not have any recovery time to absorb the training, then we would train ourselves into the ground, stop making gains, and possibly get injured.
We put in the majority of our training during the summer and fall before tapering off the volume and focusing on higher speed during the late fall and winter race season. When we are traveling and racing a lot, most of the sessions in between races are focused on making minor tweaks in technique and feeling good for the next set of races. While this is the general formula, the schedule varies a little bit depending on age, travel, and racing. It can also differ between various clubs.
This year my plan is to train 750 hours. The hours include all of the various dryland methods, on-snow training, and racing. This is a pretty common hour goal for someone my age (23) and ability give or take 50-100 hours depending on what works best for each individual. I have been working up to this since high school by adding 25-50 hours every year. As I plan training with my coach, Chris Mallory, we break down the hour goal into each period. As it is the beginning of the training year, we are focused primarily on summer training and will just look at Period 1, 2, 3, and 4 or roughly May, June, July, and August.
For the four periods of summer training I have about 290 hours planned. I will be building and increasing the hours each period during May, June, and July, eventually making July my largest period of the summer. I will then bring the hours down a little bit to absorb and recover from the training. This works out well, because we have a big training camp in August which will make the month pretty travel heavy. It is important to manage the stress of travel on the body and build flexibility into the training schedule to accommodate it.
The first period of the training year has been a good one for me, and I am excited to keep going. We started off May with a mini camp at Galena Lodge for their end of season weekend. The skiing was great and the weather was even better! We then spent a couple weeks in Ketchum with some sweet spring backcountry skiing, track intervals, and rollerski treadmill action. The period ended for the Gold Team with a week in Bend, Oregon for a training camp. It was good to get on snow early and focus on technique to really fix some bad habits that may have developed over the season and create new good habits to build on throughout the summer and fall. The U.S. Ski Team also does a camp in Bend that overlapped with ours, so we had the opportunity to take part in a number of joint sessions with a really good group of skiers.
For June and July, we will stay in Ketchum and focus on putting back a lot of quality training. This will entail the usual variety: a lot of distance, a number of intervals, twice a week in the gym, and rollerski treadmill sessions. We will also do some big days with long over-distance workouts, like running/hiking in the Pioneer, Boulder, and Sawtooth mountains. We do not have any camps planned during these months, but I will go back home to Lake Tahoe a few times to hang out with the family and enjoy the lake.
During the month of August, I will bring the hours down slightly to recover and absorb the training from the previous three periods. We are also planning a camp in Norway for a few weeks. This will be our low altitude training block for the summer and we will compete in the Toppidrettsveka Roller Ski Festival outside in Hitra, Aure, and Trondheim. This camp will be really valuable because the majority of the racing we do is at low altitude, and it really is a different style of racing than high altitude. Getting low will help us work on our fast twitch movements and our speed. I am really excited for this trip and think we will get a lot of good gains from it.
Overall, the training this summer should be really challenging with a lot of hard work, but it will also be fun. I think we have a very good group of skiers and we will train well together. Along with Kevin Bolger (U.S. Ski Team) and myself, the men’s Gold Team is getting a new member, Sam Wood, a recent Middlebury graduate and a really strong skier. I am excited to train with both of them throughout the season. This summer we also have a very large group of collegiate athletes coming to train in Sun Valley. There are some very strong skiers in this group as well that will make for a bigger group of great training partners. This summer should be really productive and fun!
Peter Holmes was born and raised is sunny Tahoe City, California. He grew up skiing with Team Unleashed Coaching while also running cross country and track, and playing soccer. He then attended the University of New Hampshire where he was a three-time NCAA Championships qualifier and the EISA Classic Leader for the 2018 season. He graduated in 2018 with a degree in Sports Studies before moving out west to ski for the SVSEF Gold Team. His 2019 season was highlighted by winning the Boulder Mountain Tour and the Classic American Birkebeiner, and representing the United States at both World Cup Finals in Quebec City and at U23 World Championships in Lahti, Finland. In his free time, Peter enjoys hot tubbing, drinking black cherry flavored seltzer, and eating other people’s Oreos.
It is said that roots don’t lie. You can take that a couple different ways.
In the case of Svea Grover, who was born and raised in Alaska, her roots in cross country skiing run as deep as the Bering Sea and as true blue as the water in it.
When she was six-years-old, her family moved from Ketchikan to Homer, Alaska, (“Where the Road Ends and the Sea Begins”), and built their first home, a 20-by-24’ one-room cabin on 40 acres, located 14 miles out of town and a mile off the main dirt road, according to Svea. When the main road is composed of dirt, you are definitely well off the beaten path, but that seemed to suit Svea and her family just fine.
Svea recalls, “With no snow plow for many years, this meant learning to cross country ski to get in and out of our property. I skied to the school bus stop from our home every morning, leaving skis by the mailbox for many years. I learned to love that cold air on my face and the snow under my skis!”
Her love of skiing continued unabated through middle school and high school, to Junior National Championships, and, eventually to college at the University of New Mexico, where she was a member of the Lobos ski team in 1985-1986. Svea was one of two Americans on the 11-person team. The roster was rounded out by Finns and Norwegians racing for longtime coach Klaus Weber, who was enshrined in the New Mexico Ski Hall of Fame in 2010.
Deciding she needed to branch out, Svea continued her education at the University of Oslo in Norway for a year, then enrolled for a year at a Norwegian business school before returning to the states to finish her bachelor of science degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management at Northern Arizona University.
Fast forward to 1994, Svea moved to Ketchum and began coaching for the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation’s cross country team and program director Rick Kapala. By good fortune, Kapala hired one of his former racers from Anchorage in 1996, a young man by the name of Chris Grover. While matchmaker is not a word normally associated with Kapala, he definitely cast Cupid’s bow at the pair, culminating with walking Svea down the aisle when the two married in 2001.
After living in Bend, Oregon, and Park City, Utah, Svea and Chris moved back to Hailey with their very young daughters, Eva and Anja. Chris took the role as head coach of the SVSEF Gold Team, created to train elite cross country skiers and provide funding to pursue racing at the highest level possible. Grover, who began coaching with the U.S. Development Ski Team the late ‘90s returned to the organization in 2006 and has been the head coach of the U.S. cross country team since 2009, overseeing some of the team’s greatest success to date, including its first-ever Olympic gold medal for the U.S. women.
A skier, coach, wife of a coach, and mother of competitive skiers, Svea holds every possible role in relation to the sport of cross country skiing and in May of 2019 added one more; board member for the Boulder Mountain Tour. With the appointment, the board gains a knowledgeable and respected member of the cross country community and our community at-large.
Board vice president and fellow SVSEF ski coach Martha Pendl concurred, “Svea brings a unique wealth of knowledge to the BMT Board…as a competitive ski racer, a longtime SVSEF coach, parent and team volunteer, and an avid cross country World Cup and U.S. Ski Team enthusiast, she has a keen eye for a race well run. As a local business partner, Svea has been a dedicated supporter of cross country skiing and its continued growth and development in the Wood River Valley. Svea harbors many trusted relationships within our community, and I look forward to her advocacy and enthusiasm for the BMT as the newest member of the board. Welcome, Svea!”
A successful realtor with Engel & Vöelkers in Sun Valley, Svea remarked, “the BMT has a part of my life nearly each winter it seems – either volunteering as a coach at the start, skiing sweep with the coaches at the end, skiing the half Boulder with my then, little kids, TRYING to ski the full Boulder with my kids or being a sponsor of the event, it’s always been something I’ve been proud to be a part of on whatever level.”
“I’m thrilled at the honor of being invited to join the BMT board with this accomplished list of friends and colleagues from the nordic world, who have worked so hard to raise the bar each year. “I hope I can help give back to our community through this unique and important event.”
The Wood River Valley’s reputation for giving back and taking care of the people in our community is both well known and well deserved. There is no shortage of people, places and worthy causes in which we can invest our time, money and energy. And, with an estimated 215 non-profit organizations in Blaine County, there is an abundance of outlets for interests, causes and cares that align with your personal values and beliefs.
The Zions Bank Boulder Mountain Tour partnered with 24 nonprofit organizations this winter, having a direct financial impact on 13 organizations and working with another 10 in conjunction with staging the Boulder Mountain Tour, a cross country ski race run annually on the Harriman Trail since 1973.
Sloan Storey, a graduate of University of Utah and Wood River High School and alumna of the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation’s cross country program, skied in the 2019 Boulder to raise funds for The Hunger Coalition. Sloane works as a program coordinator in the summer driving the Hunger Coalition’s Bloom Truck which brings both food and – in conjunction with the Ketchum Community Library – books to children in isolated neighborhoods in Blaine County. Sloane raised $8,100 to purchase healthy food for local families, and surpassing her original goal of $6k, enough money to cover the cost of lunches for Bloom.
BMT participants who signed up in December helped fund a $535 donation to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network in memory of Jon Engen, an iconic member of the Nordic community who died of the disease in April 2018 and in whose honor the race was held this year.
In recognition of Taul Paul, founder of the Galena Backcountry Ski Patrol who is retiring after 32 years of service, the BMT donated $1,000 to the organization for their constant and invaluable presence in ensuring the safety of the BMT participants on race day.
The BMT’s current cause is the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation’s Gold Team. Founded in 2001 to aid elite athletes in their quest to be the best in the world, the Gold Team boasts several alumni who have gone on to Olympic and Paralympic glory, including snowboarders Kaitlyn Farrington (gold medalist), Chase Josey, and cross country skiers Morgan Arritola, Simi Hamilton, and Jake Adicoff.
Scaled back last year to refocus on Nordic skiing, the SVSEF Gold Team is comprised of six elite racers, including Kevin Bolger, who just completed his inaugural season with the U.S. Ski Team and was nominated to the 2019-2020 Cross Country B Team. Also on the gold squad; 2019 Zions Bank Boulder Mountain Tour champion Peter Holmes, Adam Luban, Katie Feldman (second in the 2019 BMT), Maddie Morgan, and Cate Brahms. The team is coached by Chris Mallory.
To help defray the costs of the Gold Team’s training camp in Bend, Oregon, at the end of May, the BMT is donating its share of proceeds from the official event poster to the squad. Hand-drawn and screen printed by local artist Jack Weekes of Type B Laboratories, the poster depicts Jon Engen charging down the Harriman Trail with the Boulder Mountains in the background. 30 out of 75 limited-edition prints remain at Independent Goods, located at 330 Walnut Avenue in Ketchum. The poster – which is $75 – is also available online at https://independentgoods.com.
The Boulder Mountain Tour salutes the following nonprofit organizations and the wonderful work you perform. We look forward to collaborating with you again next year.
2019 Zions Bank Boulder Mountain Tour results will be posted tonight after the awards ceremony at the Limelight Room of the Sun Valley Inn. The party will be held from 5:30-7 p.m. All participants, family and friends are invited to attend.
In a photo finish, Peter Holmes of the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation got a toe over Minnesota’s Matt Liebsch to claim first. SVSEF comp team racer Johnny Hagenbuch was third.
The women had an equally exciting finish with Erika Flowers nipping SVSEF Gold Team member Katie Feldman. Anja Gruber placed third.
Racer assignments are ready for the 2019 Zions Bank Boulder Mountain Tour. The 46th annual cross country race takes place Saturday, February 2, on the Harriman Trail of the Sawtooth National Forest north of Ketchum. This year’s race attracted 907 registrants.
Click on the link below to see wave assignments. Please note; every effort has been made to place each racer in the appropriate group, both for the racer’s personal enjoyement and safety of the event.
Born and raised in Ketchum, Sloan Storey is using the Zions Bank Boulder Mountain Tour to help fight hunger in Blaine County.
A graduate of University of Utah where she was captain of the cross country team, Sloan grew up skiing in the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation’s cross country program and is now a coach with SVSEF.
Marrying her passion for skiing and her role at The Hunger Coalition, Sloan is skiing in the BMT to raise money in the fight against hunger. Here is a letter she recently sent to friends and family.
For the last eight months I have been working for The Hunger Coalition, a nonprofit fighting food insecurity in my county. The role of the HC is to build a healthier, happier, more connected community through food.Whether that is providing good food to those that are food insecure (don’t have access to good food or can’t afford it), or providing a space for them to feel welcome, heard, and connected. We aim to address all root causes of food insecurity for all persons no matter their background or economic circumstances, because everyone deserves access to healthy food.
In Blaine County it is especially hard to afford good food. Not only are we home to the 8th highest food costs and the 9th greatest wealth inequality in the nation, Idaho has the 2nd lowest wages in the country. Sadly, this means 1 in 3 local families struggle to eat well. A statistic about my own neighbors that I had no idea about while growing up – and was able to ignore due to the stigma that usually follows ‘the hungry.’
I wanted to combine my worlds of Nordic skiing and food justice through a fundraiser for the Hunger Coalition by racing the Boulder Mountain Tour, a 34km Nordic race here in Sun Valley. This local race provides the opportunity to do something that I love while advocating for an organization that is fighting for the community I love. Good food has always fueled me to the finish line, and I want to provide that important fuel to local families. So, I’m asking you, and anybody you know, to support my adventure and donate to my cause by clicking this link: https://connect.clickandpledge.com/Organization/thehungercoalition/Campaign/SloanStorey/
– Just $1 a kilometer will feed a family of three for a day!~
One of the first questions I usually get asked is “How many people does the HC actually feed?” My response, usually a surprise to most, is that we fed approximately 4,000 individuals last year, half of whom are children.
The need is here, and in today’s environment it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. Most of our participants are employed and have a home, but are just one crisis away from not being able to afford basic household necessities. (The ALICE population — https://www.unitedwaytv.org/alice-report) A crisis similar to the current government shutdown. The Hunger Coalition is a progressive and effective solution to this life determining issue.
The Hunger Coalition began as a basic food bank running off local donations. Today, the Hunger Coalition has grown to a choice food-bank (a food bank that acts as a small grocery store with nurturing and fresh foods the participants can choose from). As well as other community development programs. We have stepped away from the message of ‘Feeding the Hungry’ to ‘Building Community through Food.” With this new message we are encouraging our community to look at food justice as a whole, and engaging our participants in a new way to ensure we are fighting the stigma of being the ‘needy’ with self-empowerment.
A couple examples of this in our community is the Hope Garden and Bloom Farm. At these locations participants can volunteer their time gardening and then walk away with their own handpicked produce. We also provide cooking classes, women’s gardening groups, teen internships, and food demos. All of which are organized by and for our participants to provide space for growth and pride.
Sometimes its hard to put into words how much I think this organization is doing for our valley, but I have personally witnessed the growth and change it creates everyday.
My main role has been working as a program coordinator for the children’s programs. My biggest project being the Bloom Truck – a collaboration between the Hunger Coalition and the Community Library that provides free and nutritious lunches, as well as books, to kids in isolated neighborhoods throughout Blaine County. Thus, making sure no child goes hungry or without access to reading materials during the summer months. In addition, throughout the school year I work with almost every school, library and other local partners in the valley to provide Daily Bites – easily accessible snack pantries that provide all kids with nutrition throughout their day of learning and activities. Alongside Snack Packs – a program that provides nutritious and easy to prepare meals for kids to take home during the weekends. –More information about those programs here! Food for Kids
Race day for the 46th annual Zions Bank Boulder Mountain Tour is drawing near and this year’s race promises to be special for several reasons.
The capstone event of the Sun Valley Nordic Festival, this year’s Boulder on February 2, 2019, will honor Jon Engen, a three-time Olympian who was a dedicated ambassador and respected competitor in the sports of cross country skiing and biathlon. A longtime Ketchum resident, Engen passed away from pancreatic cancer in April of 2018. Many of his friends from near and far, including Bozeman, Montana, where he attended college, will be in attendance to pay homage to Engen and ski in his memory.
The men’s elite field is shaping up to be a highly competitive one for the 34-kilometer race staged on the Harriman Trail in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area. Four-time Olympian Andrew Newell (2018, 2014, 2010, 2006) heads up a men’s elite field that includes 2018 champion Matt Gelso (1:10.28), 2018 bronze medalist Bryan Cook, 2012 BMT and Birkebeiner champion Matt Liebsch, a noted marathon racer, and 2008 BMT champ Michael Sinnott. This pack will be challenged by perennial top-10 finisher Wyatt Fereday, and top-20 racers from last year, Nathan Schultz, Harb Harrison, Orion Berryman, Noel Johnson, James Rucker and Joe Jensen.
With three-time defending champion Caitlin Compton Gregg set to give birth this month, the women’s field is wide open and several local women will be leading the charge. Annie Pokorny, a former Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation Gold Team racer, returns to the field after finishing fourth in 2018. Sloan Storey, a SVSEF alumni, coach and former captain at University of Utah, will try and improve on her third-place finish in 2016. Emily Williams, another SVSEF coach and alumna. 2017 women’s silver medalist, Erika Flowers, skied to 16th place overall, 7:41 behind champion Silas Talbot.
Conversely, there is a non-timed Ninth Wave for participants who want to embrace the touring aspect of the event. There are currently 25 participants signed up for the Ninth Wave. Current registration for the event is nearing the 700-person mark with 117 people signed up for the very popular 15k Half Boulder. There are 83 open slots remaining in the Half, and 235 openings in the Full. The entry field is limited to 1,000 participants altogether and last year, 317 people signed up for the race in January. The course is set to accommodate skate and classic skiers.
Two weeks remain to register at the current $100 rate. At midnight on Friday, January 25 the rate goes up to $120 for the Full Boulder and $100 for the Half Boulder (currently $85). Registration closes on Monday, January 28 at midnight. There is no week-of-race registration. Sign up is through SkiReg.com at https://www.skireg.com/zions-bank-boulder-mountain-tour.
All Boulder entries are eligible for a free pre-race clinic with Sun Valley Ski Education Gold Team racers at Sun Valley Resort on the Wednesday prior to the BMT, January 30. There is no trail fee, but participants are asked to check in at the ski desk in the lodge prior to the clinic.
The NordicTown USA Sprints on Thursday, January 31 at Simplot Field west of the Ketchum post office, feature a “Regs and Dregs” class for citizen racers. Pros and members of the SVSEF cross country team will also toe the line. Awards for the sprints will be held at the Limelight Hotel in downtown Ketchum, which will coincide with the kickoff celebration featuring live music by Ketchum’s own Pisten Bully’s, food and drink specials.
The BMT Expo is on Friday, February 1 at the Limelight Hotel from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and will feature some new vendors, including local artist John Caccia, Pit Viper of Utah, and Brynje, industry standouts SWIX, Madshus, Boulder Nordic Sport, and valley nonprofits Blaine County Recreation District, Sun Valley Ski Academy and Hunger Coalition. If you would like your business to be featured at the Expo, please contact Jody Zarkos at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Demo Days will be held on Sunday, February 3 at Sun Valley Resort from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Local shops and industry representatives will be on hand to provide access and insight to all the latest and greatest gear and tips in cross country skiing. Demo Days is free to all BMT participants and open to the public. Sun Valley Resort will have the grill on with burgers, brats and veggie burgers available between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.
There are many ways to be involved in the race besides skiing in it. Volunteers are needed. It takes roughly 210 people to execute all facets of the event and everyone who volunteers for the race is invited to an appreciation party on Wednesday, February 13 at the Limelight Hotel. Go to http://signup.com/go/HvepoEh to lend a hand.
How does your BMT story begin? It may end in a sore, tired, and (hopefully) sunburned heap on the snow, swearing off XC ski racing forever. Not to worry, this affliction will heal rapidly once you start trash talking to your friends how you will beat them in the BMT 2020…But what started your BMT career? Are you a glutton for punishment? Did you lose a bet? Maybe you are here to show everyone that an old dog can learn new tricks? I’m sure some of you got suckered in with the, “it’s all downhill” line. If so, I encourage you to strap on your 140 flex boots, lock your heels down, and head to the start line…
For those brave enough to tackle this 1,000 foot descent (lol, it’s all downhill, I promise) on XC gear, here’s six phases of the race to consider. DISCLAIMER: I was a “professional athlete” (making an NFL salary) for 15 years so spend the next three minutes of your life reading this at your own risk. I will not be held responsible for wasting your time nor giving bad advice…
1) Elbows and Ski Poles: The Start
A great marathon race starts as fast and hard as you can to build an early lead. As you’ve seen in the Tour De France, that usually works SUPER well. The start is important, but you’ve got 34 km to ‘race’; spend the start defending your poles and enjoying the gorgeous views – there’s plenty of time to make yourself tired later. At the starting line, mind the short bald man with the bullhorn, he is amusing (especially to himself) and will warn the stragglers of the men’s elite field to allow the elite women who catch them to pass with ease…These ladies have already beaten you by two minutes, let it go!
2) Do Not Color Outside The Lines: The Road Crossing
A kilometer or so into the race is a beautiful strip of pearly white to carry you across Highway 75. I will spare you the “stone grinding” jokes about what happens if you miss this white ribbon (you can’t). Note, this is a great place to knockout your competition, as a small nudge can send your competitor back to ‘go’ without collecting $200 dollars (actually, spending a lot more than $200 on a new pair of skis). In all seriousness, be light on your feet and head up and you will blast through this into Phase 3.
3) You’ll Ski At My Pace and Like It: The Infamous Hawk Hill
One could call this a big climb, but they would also call the Midwest ground zero for big mountain alpine skiing. The challenge here lies in the trail width – it doesn’t afford a three-person wide “I’m more fit than you” contest. This will help those who believe that this is their spot to make a move – trust me, it’s not. Let the trail width save you from yourself. Relax and flow up the hill, look forward to the great view from the top and the fun descent to follow.
4) Enjoy Your Next 20km: The Blowup
This overlooked bump will inform you immediately as to what kind of day you are having. A SNEAKY uphill that takes 30 seconds to ski but can put you one minute or more ahead (or behind) someone who started it with you. I have watched President Truman drop Fat Man AND Little Boy on legit racers here…However, if you are feeling good, this can be a great place to strut your stuff.
5) Fruit Of The Loom Is Not Going To Cut It: The (Sometimes) Cold Part
If you begin your clothing layers like with the same piece as Walter White in the first episode of Breaking Bad, you may regret it. “Frostbite Flats” translates directly in skier to “wear your wind briefs.” Even if it is warm on the day of the race, wind block material can’t hurt. This section of the course (from Baker Creek to the finish) contains great open skiing, where you can ski big and let your skis glide out. Don’t forget to enjoy the amazing views of the Boulders and the Big Wood River!
6) Move It Or Lose It: The Finish
I’ve been the one moving it – and also the one losing it. The end of the race is narrow, twisty, and FLAT. Think tactically, save energy, and do NOT start sprinting too early! The final drag is long, so be patient and time your ‘move’ such that you die (metaphorically only please) at the finish line, not 10 feet before it.
Remember these six phases and you might have a good race, or not, it’s really up to you. Write your own BMT phases; hopefully they involve fun racing, good weather, great snow, and amazing people. Enjoy your time on the Harriman Trail, it’s a beautiful place and you only get to race on it once a year (if you’re lucky)!
Matt Gelso is a recently retired professional ski racer with the SVSEF Gold Team. As a former member of the University of Colorado NCAA Ski Team and the U.S. Ski Team, he has raced throughout the U.S. and Europe in World Cup and World Championships competition. He now deals commercial and residential real estate in the Wood River Valley with Paul Kenny & Matt Bogue Real Estate. He is last year’s 2018 Boulder Mountain Tour champion.