Lake Louise to Banff 2012

The best snow and weather conditions in years greeted us on Sunday morning at Lake Louise for the 71K historic and challenging race to Banff.

40 relay teams along with 25 enthusiastic individual skiers lined up in the 8 a.m. darkness on the most famous lake in the world. (Maybe 39 teams; one skier was still running towards the lake after the other skiers had already started). The mountains surrounding the lake were only dark silhouettes in the pre-dawn sky when Joe Lunn fired the pistol  said “go,” and the unknowing skiers were sent over the abyss(aka Tramline). Over seven hours from here, for some solo skiers on Healy creek, with every muscle aching, they may have considered it the vortex of doom.

Peter comes to a screeching halt as he hands-off to Cheryl at Baker creek checkpoint

Our race was going along great. We switched things up this year, with Peter doing the first and longest leg, and I took his usual leg 3. Cheryl had another solid ski along scenic leg 2. After each of us did one leg, our team was sitting in seventh place overall.

There’s always a surprise in store, however. This year, it wasn’t the weather, the snow, or our lackadaisical attitudes. Hand-offs were crisp and sure, with the next skier prepared and ready to go.

Supergirl on skis

On leg 4, going downhill, Cheryl took an awkward spill and dislocated her knee cap. Before I go any further, I want to thank all the people who helped her as she was laying, unable to move, on the side of the trail. Carl Pryce was the first skier who encountered her, and stayed with her until he was able to flag down a vehicle.

All this happened unbeknownst to me, as I was waiting for her arrival at Sawback. I started seeing numerous skiers coming in, who I had passed on Leg 3, but no Cheryl. I drove back to see what happened. By this time she had been rescued by Cindy and Scott, who drove her to Johnston Canyon and an ambulance had been called.

Our team photo was taken at the Banff hospital. Only some powerful drugs enabled Cheryl to smile.

I was prepared to end the racing then and there, but Cheryl wouldn’t hear of it. She encouraged me to go back and resume where she left off. We did just that, having lost about an hour. My mind wasn’t focused too well after that, but I started skiing at the exact point where she had her accident.

Our finish line photo this year is a little unconventional, having been taken in the Banff hospital. Cheryl’s leg is in a splint, a large bag of ice is wrapped around her knee, and she’s walking with crutches.  Sad to say, Cheryl won’t be in my skiing photos for the rest of the winter.

The final results and other photos are posted on the  loppet website.


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  1. Owww! I know what it’s like, Cheryl! Wish you a speedy recovery!

  2. Positive vibes to Cheryl. What a showing to make it out to the windup party! Kudos to Bob and Peter for finishing…the only thing worse than a dislocated kneecap is a dislocated kneecap and a DNF. That downhill was definitely pretty sporty…it was the one spot I was wishing my skis were not so fast!

  3. I was surprised to see Cheryl at the wind up after her hospital visit. She certainly is a trooper. I would just like to say that Bernard helped us with getting Cheryl out of the snow and into the vehicle as did an anonymous couple vacationing from Europe. I hope Cheryl makes a speedy recovery.

  4. So sorry to hear about Cheryl’s wipeout….even in the best conditions that course can be quite ‘wiggly’ and weird…no reflection on the trail volunteers of course.

    Best wishes for a well tracking kneecap!

    Way to take one for the team!

  5. So sorry to hear the news of Cheryl’s accident, that sounds very painful! Please wish Cheryl a speedy recovery from Mark and I and well done to you and Peter finishing the race. It was catch up with you all at Lake Louise on Saturday night.

  6. So sorry to hear of Cheryl’s mishap. Wishing her a speedy healing process…

  7. Thanks for the writeup, Bob. Hope Cheryl is feeling better today with the help of happy drugs. Make sure you wait on her, peel the grapes, freshen up the ice in her drink, etc!

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