Steepdreams Skimo Panorama Resort

This past Saturday I took my family to Panorama ski resort in BC for a fun filled weekend of skiing and skimo racing.  Steep Dreams was panorama’s first time hosting a skimo race and in my (limited experience) opinion they knocked it out of the park.

We arrived on Thursday night and checked into Toby Creek Condo’s in the lower village.  We were a bit concerned about having a 1 bedroom condo when there are 4 of us in the family, but the condo was very spacious and worked out great for our family of 4.  An open-air gondola runs from the lower village to the upper village and if you have kids that love gondolas, this might be the highlight of their trip.  Panorama also has an amazing daycare (Wee Wascals Childcare).  I have never left my kids at a daycare on the hill before, but the girls at Wee Wascals were so amazing with the kids, my daughter asked every morning if she got to go to “school” again.

On to the skiing!  I was a bit nervous about my race, as I haven’t skied much in the past 4 years, having been pregnant and had babies with no family support nearby over the past few years.  So, Friday morning we popped the kids into daycare and we headed out to test our legs on the mountain.  I checked out the run I’d have to ski down and determined that it was very doable and not wanting to blow out my legs the day before a race we headed in to the T-Bar lounge for a much-deserved date, which we don’t get too many of since having kids.

Saturday morning, bright and early I headed up to the upper village for a race briefing and then loaded up onto the “Mile High” chair, where the start of the race was located.  I learned from my last race that you need to warm up a bit. My theory has always been that I don’t want to waste any energy as I’ll need everything I have in the tank just to survive, but that isn’t how it is.  I warmed up a bit on my skis to try and get my legs ready for what lay ahead.  Skimo starts are tough to figure out as a new person to the sport.  In past sports, I’ve always been happy to start last and slowly make up ground throughout a race, but it seems with skimo if you start last you end last.  So, this race I actually ran a bit on my skis to get moving during the mass start.  Then came the 800m grind.   The first 10 minutes or so are spent asking myself some questions… “what are you doing”, “why do you always sign up for these things”, but then I got into a bit of a groove and just trudged along.  There was fresh powder on the mountain and the route up the hill was amazing.  At one point, I looked up and we were a line of about 10 skiers climbing a skido width track sided by trees with big fluffy flakes falling and it was that muffled fresh snow quiet, with just the swish sound of skins on snow.  I wish I’d had a camera.  My body always takes a while to warm up and at 400m of vertical ascent I finally really felt like I was in a comfortable pace.  After the uphill ski comes the bootpack section.  This was my favorite part of the race.  It was long and had been set by women the day before, which means smaller steps in the snow vs the giant steps that men seem to put take.  I haven’t skied a lot over the past 4 years, but I have carried up to 50lbs of toddler and gear up mountains every weekend through summer and fall over the past year, which made the bootpack section easier for me.  At the top of the bootpack is the transition to descent.  I’d been practicing transitions and was really excited to have done a good “skin rip” (ripped my skins off in one try while keeping my skis on my feet) during this race.  And off I went, down this fantastic run in amazing fresh powder!  I got about three turns in and almost did a face plant.  If you haven’t seen skimo skis, they are very short, incredibly light and nicknamed “the misery sticks” by people who practice the sport.  I had only skied groomers on my skis, and powder is a whole new world on these skis!  It took me a few turns to figure out to just lean back and hold on, which really caused a lot of leg burnout on my trip down.

I managed to come first in the women’s recreational category.  I learned so much about the sport, and I’ve continued to make new friends in this small sport that is full of amazing elite athletes.

I really look forward to doing this race again next year.  Panorama resort is a fantastic destination for families and Steep Dreams was an amazing race.