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First Jasper Skimo event needs volunteers

by Evan Matthews |

For the first time in the resort’s history, Marmot Basin is hosting a Skimo race.

Ski Mountaineering Competition of Canada is looking for volunteers to help set up Marmot’s Revenge on Mar. 16, as well as volunteers to work the event on Mar. 17.

Ski mountaineering or Skimo is a winter sport combining uphill and downhill skiing and mountaineering skills.

The races typically welcome skiers, snowboarders, telemark skiers and backcountry enthusiasts, according to race organizer and participant Alex Stieda.

“It’s very intimidating. I’m pushing the edge of my endurance capability. People always want to push their boundaries,” says the 56-year-old Stieda. “Another way to think about Skimo is that it’s a triathlon on skis,” says Stieda. “It’s all encompassing of one’s athletic ability on the hill.”

The elite category is “hardcore” but as is the case with many Skimo events, there is a recreational race for the more casual crowd.

Some of the course requires participants “skinning” up snowy slopes, while other portions involve boot packing (hiking) with skis or a board attached to a backpack.

The Skimo community is small in Canada comparatively to Europe and even the United States, but the sport is growing here.

“Just like cycling or cross-country skiing or running, there are youth, boys and girls, men and women, all the way up into the intermediate and master categories,” Stieda said. “People who are lifelong athletes love it… The demographics are all over the map.”

The event isn’t just for those racing.

Marmot Basin vice president of marketing Brian Rode says Skimo is quite the spectacle, and can be fun for those who aren’t participating, too.

“It’s crazy to watch. They go up the hill, down the hill. The racers only weigh 130 pounds soaking wet,” Rode said. “They’re just super fit. The route is insane.”

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