2015 World Championships

By: Meredith Edwards

Women of the US Worlds Team

Women of the US Worlds Team

There's something to be said for toeing the line with some of the best athletes in the world. Two years ago at Worlds I was so nervous I felt like I couldn’t breathe or move a muscle, but this year was different. After spending a winter over in Europe and competing in a couple of World Cups, I came back to Europe with a level head and ready to do work. Last year I was lucky enough to race the Vertical and Individual courses for this year’s Worlds.

My trip to Worlds started off a bit unplanned. My flight was cancelled and I received a ride from three lovely gentlemen from Jackson to Salt Lake City. I was supposed to arrive two days before my first competition, but instead I got in the day before and within 24 hours was on the course of the Vertical race. Standing on the starting line I was calm and focused. I knew what to expect and just needed to hang on. In years past I was never very fond of the Vertical but this race changed my opinion. I enjoyed every minute of it. With the crowds of people cheering and the level of competition surrounding me-- it was perfect. I was able to shave 6 minutes off my time from the previous year and placed 25th.

Vertical Race

Vertical Race

The Individual Race followed two days later and what a ride that was. For much of the course I shared my experience with fellow teammate Sarah Cookler. I think the two of us having each other there pushed us more than any other person. The course was around 4,000' with steep, technique decants. At the finish line Sarah and I were only separated by one second! Both Sarah and I finished five minutes behind our top American, Lyndsey Plant. It was the first time on both the men’s and women’s side that all four ladies scored points for Team USA!

The Teams Race did not disappoint with a beautiful 6,000' course circling Mont Gele a couple times. My partner McKenna Douglass and I had a spectacular time and very few issues. The first ascent was icy and bumped out. With a very short decent the second ascent presented a very long booter. Up couloirs and ridges we made our way through the course with the last descent being close to 4,000'. We just missed out on a 10th place finish, but both of us were pleased with our effort for 11th.

The last race of the week was the Teams Sprint. After racing three races and being jet lagged, I was far from being fresh but toed the line to lead off our team. I kept a 40 second gap to Canada’s Melanie Bernier. The course is fast but leaves nothing out. In total there are four transitions, two skinners, two descents, one booter and a skate ski to the finish! The team order was, I lead off, Sarah Cookler was 2nd and our anchor was Jessie Young.  With my start Sarah closed the gap on Canada and Jessie finished strong with a 5th place.

Click here for more skimo pics and videos!

Click here for more skimo pics and videos!

Overall I was pleased with my performance. I was able to score points for Team USA in every event and had a blast doing it. Team USA finished with a strong 10th place and all of our hard work and improvements had shown.  What an amazing experience filled with wonderful teammates and competitors.  I look forward to the next Worlds !!!!!!!!





Sunscreen Shootout

By: Forest Dramis

Before we get into the actual review of the sunscreens in our test, it's important to understand some of the basics of what sunscreen labeling means. When shopping for sunscreen most people only consider the SPF (Sun Protection Factor). SPF is measured by the FDA as a comparison of how much UV exposure it takes to cause a sunburn versus when someone does not use a sunscreen. The higher the SPF number, the more protection against burning. However, because the SPF indicates only how much Ultraviolet B is being blocked, the spectrum of UV that causes burning, it doesn't give an indication of protection from Ultraviolet A, the spectrum of UV that causes melanoma. Under FDA regulations, any sunscreen labeled "Broad Spectrum" must block UV-A and UV-B at the same level. Nowadays almost every sunscreen on the market over SPF 15 is Broad Spectrum, but it's best to make sure. All sunscreen designations and claims assume you will reapply after 2 hours. Is your sunscreen "waterproof" or "sweatproof"? The answer is no. The FDA prohibits either terminology and only allows "Water Resistant" to be used if the SPF efficacy isn't drastically reduced during 40-80 minutes of water activity. 


So what exactly does the SPF number mean? SPF 50 blocks more UV than SPF 30, but how much more, and why does it matter? It matters because higher SPF sunscreen can be considerably more expensive than its lesser SPF companions. During our research we found that some companies' SPF 50 sunscreen cost as much as double the same sunscreen in SPF 30. SPF 15 blocks 93% of UV rays. SPF 30 blocks 97% of UV rays and SPF 50 blocks 98% of UV rays. Is that 1% worth double the cost? Add to that consideration that the amount of sunscreen you apply is critical to your protection and I think SPF 30 is the best way to go. It should also be noted that the FDA considers SPFs over 50 to be "no more effective than SPF 50."

We tested 5 sunscreens: Coppertone Sport SPF 30, Beyond Coastal Active SPF 34, Trilipiderm Broad Spectrum SPF 30, Banana Boat Sport SPF 30, and Neutrogena Ultra Dry Touch SPF 30. (All of these sunscreens are Broad Spectrum.) Since the FDA regulates sunscreen, we can confidently assume all these sunscreens block approximately 97% of UV-A and UV-B. All these sunscreens will protect you on your ride or ski. That leaves a few metrics for us to use when deciding which to buy. Feel: How does it feel on your skin? Is it slimy, sticky, greasy or dry? Smell: Does it smell good, bad or innocuous? Price: Do you want to pay $15 for your sunscreen or $5? Here's what we found...

Most favorite: Beyond Coastal Active SPF 34  This was our favorite sunscreen in the test. After application my skin felt well coated but never felt sticky, slimy or wet. The smell was innocuous and the price was great.

Our second favorite was Coppertone Sport. Great feel on the skin, easy to apply and a smell that reminds us of the beach without being too obtrusive. Even though Coppertone came in 2nd during our test, because of its much lower price -- $1.34/oz versus $3.94/oz for Beyond Coastal, we feel that this is the best choice if you're on a budget.

Honorable mention: Neutrogena Ultra Dry  I'm giving the Neutrogena honorable mention because despite its steep price it has some desirable properties that shouldn't be ignored. While it misses the mark on the cost metric it does have one very important quality that active users shouldn't ignore: it didn't burn my eyes when sweating from under my helmet. All sunscreen will run when you're sweating hard, but this one seemed to run the least and also burned the least.

Least favorite: Trilipiderm Broad Spectrum SPF 30   We found this sunscreen to be quite slippery and slimy when applied. Our hope was that after a couple minutes it would "soak in" and be less noticeable, but no such luck. I'm sure it was moisturizing my skin and it was certainly giving me a glow....or shine...but the feel of this sunscreen had me trying to wipe it off. Not really what you want to be doing with your skin protection.

Bottom Line: Wear sunscreen. Every time out. Most of us live at altitude and play at an even higher altitude. There's every reason in the world to use it, and no reason not to use it. Based on our tests I've switched my regimen to use Beyond Coastal Active SPF 34. If it's going to be especially hot, I'll add the Neutrogena Ultra Dry to my face because of its sweat-related properties.



WINTER WORKOUTS: Cold weather nutrition and preparation

By: Cary Smith

For many athletes, winter is the off season. This, of course, doesn’t mean sitting on the couch and losing all your hard-earned fitness from the summer. Rather, it means starting to rebuild so you can return faster and stronger next season. For many of us, this calls for bundling up and getting outside in the cold and dark. With this change in the weather comes a need for increased preparation of equipment, clothing and nutrition. Since I’m a skier and cyclist, I will focus on what I do for these activities but my ideas can easily be adapted to other sports.


Equipment preparation can be summarized with a simple saying I like to remind myself of whenever I don’t feel like waxing my skis or cleaning my bike: Take care of your gear and it will take care of you. In other words, stay on top of regular maintenance so that equipment failure doesn’t leave you stranded. This is especially necessary in winter since any unplanned extension of your workout can have dire consequences. For winter cycling, there are a few things you can do to make it more enjoyable. First, put fenders on your bike to stay dry so you can ride longer without getting as chilled. Second, have a good light system. Daylight is scarce and cars are not expecting bikes on the road when it’s cold, raining or snowing. Third, ride slower. I don’t mean easier, I mean use a mountain bike, cyclocross bike or fat bike. The wind generated while riding on the roads with 23mm slick tires will cool your core much faster than if you’re working harder to turn larger, heavier tires while going slower. 

Everybody has their own ideas on clothing choices that work for them. So, whatever works, stick with it. My rule of thumb is that I should feel chilly as I start my workout knowing that I will soon be warmed up. Try to avoid sweaty clothes, as they are the best way to drop your core temperature; wear layers that you can strip. Don’t underestimate the usefulness of a neck warmer. It takes very little space in your pocket or pack and almost acts as an extra layer. If you haven’t ridden with handcovers, or pogies, you’re missing out. You can stay warm with a much lighter glove, increasing dexterity and control. 


Your nutrition requirements are slightly changed in cold temperature, as they are at high altitude, which often goes hand in hand with cold and winter sports. As the mercury plummets, your need for glycogen increases. Your body doesn’t like to burn fat when it’s cold since glucose, both ingested and stored as glycogen, is easier and faster to use. What this means is that you should eat a warm meal 2-3 hours prior to your workout-think oatmeal or pasta-and then plan on Gu and Chomps to top off your tank while training. The trick here is to keep your food as warm as possible. Try to avoid storing it in your pack but rather next to your body-in a pocket, in your glove or even stuffed in your lycra. This aids both in ease of consumption and ease of digestion as your body doesn’t need to expend energy keeping your body warm while you’re trying to freeze it from the inside out. One study found that fingertips were 2 degrees colder five minutes after eating a bowl of ice cream and 5 degrees colder after 15 minutes.

Dehydration is prevalent in winter athletes for a variety of reasons. As our core temperature drops, the desire to drink is diminished. And the lack of sweat (if you’re dressed properly) leads people to believe they don’t need to drink. Unfortunately, your body is still losing water as both sweat and through exhalation. As you breathe in cold, dry air, your body needs to warm and moisten it. This extra moisture is then lost every time you exhale. Obviously, the harder you’re breathing the more pronounced this is. So, you need to drink and you need carbohydrates. What’s the solution? Gu Brew or Roctane, depending on the length of your workout. Electrolytes are not as important in the winter since, hopefully, you’re not sweating as much due to proper clothing choices.


Again, internal cold is the enemy, so the warmer the liquid, the better it works. Always fill your bottle or hydration system with warm/hot drink mix. The insulated bottles work OK in moderate temperatures but they’re still helped by keeping them on your body in a jersey pocket or in your pack instead of on your bike. I like to use a hydration bladder over my first layer but under other layers in the form of a low profile pack or a vest with a sleeve. Then I can keep the hose inside as well. Speaking of hoses, after drinking your fill, blow the liquid back into the bladder to keep it from freezing in the (insulated) tube. Drinking often will help your performance as well as keep your container from freezing, rendering it useless. 

Embrace the cold, just remember to prepare for it. It never hurts to bring a few more calories than you think you’ll need. It might be just enough to get you home when your phone is frozen and you can’t call for help!

FOR THE LOVE OF THE SPORT: ISMF Irwin Race - Crested Butte, CO

Photo: Teague Holmes

Photo: Teague Holmes

By: Meredith Edwards

It’s that time of year again. The spandex one pieces come out and the skins get waxed. It’s skimo season. This year I decided to start my season early and go down to Crested Butte and race Irwin. For those of you who don’t know, Crested Butte is about an 11 hour drive and when you need to be back at work on Sunday at 9 am it really makes for one hell of a trip. On my way down I had Wild Bill from Jackson accompany me and in Carbondale, Co I picked up two more racers and off we went.

Photo:  Christopher Thompson

Photo: Christopher Thompson

The race started at 10 am after a nice hour long cat drive in. It’s great to run into all your friends and catch up before the race starts. Going into the race I was bit nervous about my fitness and health. I’ve been having some issues but needed to test the water and see where I was at. The course was great. 95% of it was on single track which I favor and the ski descents were fun and filled with powder. On the second descent I opted for the big untouched powder field and ripped some turns in it. One thing that was super difficult was on the last climb to the top you forget that you start at around 10,000 ft. and at the top of the climbs you’re at around 12,000 ft. It was a definite lung burner and made me feel sluggish.

Photo: Christopher Thompson

Photo: Christopher Thompson

After spending a race season in Europe and coming back to the U.S. it was great to see the ISMF rules implemented and everyone on top it. One thing I’m really excited about is all the ladies who showed up to race. The women are really stepping up and getting fast. You can see the improvement and it is defiantly something to watch as the year goes on.
Overall I was very pleased with my 4th place. Irwin is a U.S. qualifier and important if you want to race individual at the World Championships at Verbier Switzerland in February. In the weeks to come I just need to work at building a bit more speed and rest up for the Wyoming Randonee Roundup. I thank Bryan Wickenhauser and crew for a wonderful race and for all their hard work to put it on. Hope you all are having fun and happy training. See you out there. I’ll be the one in spandex!





TOOLS OF THE TRADE: What do the fastest racers carry?

By: Forest Dramis

One of the most common questions we get is: What gear do I use for a skimo race? While the answer can range from: Whatever you've got! to Light is right! So we thought  it would be fun to talk to some of the fastest skimo racers in the country and see just what they use on race day!

JARI KIRKLAND: Jari is an endurance mountain bike racer, elite adventure racer and has been a member of the US National Skimo Team since 2010. She races for Team gO/Crested Butte.



Skis: Trab Gara Aero World Cup
Boots: Scarpa Alien 2.0 
Bingings: Trab TR Race 
Skins: CAMP or Trab. I wax them and ski them downhill a little bit to make them fast. I always carry 2 sets of skins and sometimes I will carry one more extra skin. I wax my skins for speed. The wax rubs off pretty quickly, but its worth it. 
Poles: Trab Vertical Carbon. I'm about 5'9'' and use 135cm poles.  If It's going to be super powdery I might even use a backcountry pole with bigger baskets.  
Pack: CAMP or Trab. The lightest you can get. Must be able to put skis on while its on my back. 
Helmet: Trab or CAMP. I use the visor quite a bit, depending on light conditions. 
Goggles or glasses: I never use goggles. I use either my Oakleys or Rudy Project, cannot fog. 
Windshell: CAMP. They make the lightest one, it has an opening in the back for your pack so you do have to take off your backpack to put on your jacket. It's genius.                            

Socks:  Darn Tough-wool.  They are indestructible.
What do you wear under your race suit?  Depends on the weather but if its cold I only wear the thinnest wool long johns on both top and bottom. You get and stay warmer than you would think.  If its warm at all I might wear a tank top (still wool put super thin) and maybe boxer briefs on the bottom. I wear a buff on my neck that I can pull up if I need.  And if its cold I will wear a wind proof head band. 
Gloves: CAMP or Trab.  Anything that has the wind barrier that I can put on if its cold or tuck away if its warm. I've had cold hands a lot. It never last long though.                                      

How much drink are you carrying? What mix?  I carry a water bottle with GU Roctane in it. But I recommend using what ever you are used to and like. My drink mix changes all the time, I get tired of the same thing over and over.
Gels? Bars?:  I use Gus more than anything else. They are the easiest for me to eat when its cold and I'm breathing really hard. I will use chomps if its a little warmer.   



MAX TAAM: Max is one of the fastest skimo racers in America. He has represented the US at the World Championships the past four years and finished first at both the Power of Four, PowderKeg Teams Race and Four Peaks events last year.


Skis: Ski Trab Gara Aero World Cup 164cm
Boots: SCARPA Alien 1.0
Bindings: Ski Trab TR Race
Skin type: Ski Trab, Coltex. More options, the better!
Poles: Ski Trab Vertical Carbon. Only wax to prevent globbing. I'm 5'7" and use 130cm poles
Pack: Ski Trab World Cup Aero
Helmet: POC Crane
Goggles or glasses: I always race with goggles and sometimes wear glasses on the climbs. Oakley O2 XL goggles (love the big field of vision), Oakley Radarlock Path glasses
Shell: Ski Trab Duo Race

Socks: Point 6 Ultra Light
What do you wear under your race suit? Wind proof boxers, Oakley Rotor Seamless Baselayer pants, Oakley Rotor Seamless Baselayer top
Gloves: Ski Trab Piuma Duo. My hands get cold quick and these are the warmest ones with a wind mitt option. 

How much drink are you carrying? What mix? About 400ml/ hour in Salomon soft flasks. Osmo mix
Gels? Bars?: For the Jackson Race I'll carry a Honey Stinger Gingersnap waffle, 2 packs of Honey Stinger chews (1 pack caffeinated), and 2 Honey Stinger gels (1 caffeinated)


STEVIE KREMER: Stevie was born in DüsseldorfGermany. She currently lives in Crested Butte, CO, and works as a second-grade teacher at the Crested Butte Community School. 




  • 1st Mont Blanc Marathon (course record), France
  • 1st, Matterhorn Ultraks 46km Skyrace, Switzerland 
  • 1st, Sierre-Zinal Mountain Race, Switzerland
  • 1st, Marathon du Mont Blanc, France
  • 2013 USATF Mountain and Trail Runner of the Year
  • 2013 National Trail Marathon and Half Marathon Champion
  • 2013 Skyrunner® World Series Champion
  • 2013 USA Trail Series Champion
  • 2013 Member of US Ski Mountaineering Team 
  • 2012 Long Distance Mountain World Champion
  • 2012 USATF Trail Runner of the Year


Skis: TBD :: Salomon?
Boots: TBD
Bindings: TBD
Skins:  I'm a little unusual but I always carry an extra pair of skins in my speedsuit AND a pair in my pack-so a total of 3.  I get SO nervous of freezing skins!
Poles: I'm 4'11"...My poles are short!
Goggles or glasses: I personally prefer goggles, especially when it's snowing.  If it's warm and very sunny, I will wear sunglasses but keep goggles taped to my helmet.

Socks: I use SKHoop light ski socks, they are awesome!

What do you wear under your race suit? Depending on the temperature, I wear a long or short sleeved Super.Natural Merino Wool top with bottoms (unless it's VERY warm, then I don't wear bottoms, but I always wear a top!)

Gloves: CAMP gloves with the wind shell that can be tucked away when going up are awesome!

Drink and nutrition: I put Skratch in my water bottles and carry a couple PowerBar gels, but I prefer the PowerBar Chews.




Determining your skimo pole length

By: Forest Dramis

What pole length should I use for skimo racing? This is a question we've all asked. And if you're like me you've received every answer under the sun. Recently, preferred pole length has been getting shorter. Whether that's because of any quantifiable benefit or because that's what seems to be in vogue right now, who knows? 

The easiest way to determine your ideal pole length is to tour and train with adjustable length poles, paying close attention to where you feel most comfortable. Experiment with different lengths on different terrain. See what does and doesn't work for you. The length you arrive at is probably the length you'll want for skimo racing.

Below are some formulas that people use, with varying levels of success, to determine their pole length. Consider this a great starting point for your experimentation.


Maximum Pole Length (MPL) Method

Your MPL is calculated as 55% of your height (in cm) plus 38 cm:

(0.55 x Your Height) + 38 = MPL

EXAMPLE: 5'10" (178cm X .55)+38 = 136cm MPL   Start at 136cm and work your way down.



A convenient way to calculate your skimo pole starting point, especially for those coming to the sport from the Nordic side, is to use a Nordic pole chart for classic skiing and subtract 12-15 cm.

Below is the Swix Classic Pole length chart based on user height.

4'11".................120 cm


What lengths are the pros using? Here's a list of known users and pole lengths:

  • Jari Kirkland: 5'9" - 135cm
  • Max Taam: 5'7" - 130cm
  • Rheiner Toni: 6'2" - 140cm
  • Melanie Bernier: 5'9" - 130cm


Thanks to Pete Swenson, Stano & Skintrack.com for help with this article.