Ski season in doubt, Aspen Olympian Simi Hamilton makes most of Power of Four
POWER OF FOUR RESULTS
1. Simi Hamilton, 5:18:37.1
2. Troy Howard, 6:15:19.1
3. Ben Glassmeyer, 6:59:32.7
1. Marina Hand, 6:51:14.2
2. Lizi Bolanos-Nauth, 7:07:41.0
3. Marian Krogh, 7:36:24.1
POWER OF TWO RESULTS
1. David Sinclair, 1:45:42.9
2. Dan Feeney, 1:58:43.0
3. Andrew Amato, 2:19:46.9
1. Jessie Young, 2:14:32.5
2. Sophie Caldwell, 2:17:50.4
3. Lauren Warkentin, 2:25:11.1
Races are few and far between anymore, and Simi Hamilton wasn’t about to let one pass him by. Especially one like the Power of Four, an event the Aspen native has only been able to watch from afar due to his cross-country skiing career.
“I’ve always been so bummed that I haven’t been home to experience them. So it was perfect that I finally got to jump into at least one of them,” Hamilton said Sunday of competing in one of Aspen’s many local races usually held throughout the year. “It’s really important for your psyche … you want to be able to revisit the racing mentality throughout the summer. Put a bib on and go through the same emotions, because that’s just as important as doing the intervals in the summer.”
Hamilton, a three-time Olympian and current member of the U.S. cross-country ski team, had the chance to drop in on Saturday’s Audi Power of Four trail run, a 50-kilometer foot race from Aspen to Snowmass Village via Aspen Skiing Co.’s four ski mountains.
And not only did he win, but he won by more than 56 minutes, a testament to the lung capacity of an Olympic-level endurance athlete. It shouldn’t be surprising, as one of his former World Cup teammates achieved a similar feat only a year ago when Aspen-raised Olympic cross-country skier Noah Hoffman stepped in and won the Aspen Backcountry Marathon last August.
“The nice thing about being a cross-country racer is our training is so diverse,” Hamilton said. “Generally, just because of training, we are pretty good at most stuff. It’s nice to be able to show that off a little bit. Obviously there are lots of incredible athletes out there in this valley, so it feels good to be able to come home and just feel good out in the mountains and have a fun day.”
Hamilton, who is home for only a few days, finished Saturday’s 50k race in 5 hours, 18 minutes, 37.1 seconds. Taking second was Basalt’s Troy Howard in 6:15:19.1 and in third was Vail’s Marina Hand, the top female finisher, in 6:51:14.2. Because of the novel coronavirus pandemic, the field was limited this summer and only 37 athletes completed the full Power of Four.
Complete results can be found at http://www.aspensnowmass.com.
“Honestly, I had no idea what to expect. You never know what the field is going to be like, especially in a time like this,” Hamilton said. “Anytime we are doing anything in June, July, August, September, it has to fit inside the training framework. But that doesn’t mean you can’t go out and race as hard as you possibly can, which is absolutely what I did (Saturday). I definitely wasn’t holding back at all.”
Hamilton returned to Snowmass on Sunday to cheer on his wife, Sophie Caldwell, a two-time Olympian and current member of the U.S. cross-country ski team who decided to try her luck at the Power of Two foot race despite having not trained for the event. Sunday’s race was a mere 25 kilometers and only featured the second half of the full Power of Four route, so Buttermilk to Snowmass via the Government Trail.
Caldwell, a Vermont native, finished in 2:17:50.4 to come in second among women. She was narrowly edged out by Aspen’s Jessie Young, who had a time of 2:14:32.5. Because of COVID-19 safety precautions, the racers hit the course in waves — meaning simply crossing the finish line wasn’t much of an indication of how one placed.
“I had zero interest in doing the 50k, but (Saturday) we found out there were still some spots in the 25k and that sounded a little more reasonable to me,” Caldwell said with a laugh. “It’s great to be out here for a little bit and to be able to get a race in. There aren’t too many race opportunities this summer and we don’t know what the season is going to look like. So it’s nice to take advantage of putting on a bib.”
David Sinclair, of Truckee, California, was the top overall finisher in Sunday’s Power of Two race with a time of 1:45:42.9. In second was Boulder’s Dan Feeney. Young and Caldwell finished third and fourth overall, respectively. There were 41 racers in Sunday’s 25k event.
“Very low expectations,” Caldwell said of her thoughts on the race going in, considering she had only decided to compete a day earlier. “It’s going to be good training no matter what. I haven’t done many hard efforts at this high of altitude — I was definitely a sea-level kid — so I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel. But it was a beautiful race and I actually felt OK.”
Next up for Hamilton and Caldwell is … well, nobody really knows. In a normal year, they’d both be ramping up for another season on the World Cup, but the pandemic is creating a lot of doubt about it happening at all. Hamilton, 33, had indicated this spring that this upcoming season could possibly be his final before retirement, but there are too many unknowns to commit to anything at this point.
“We just have to stay flexible and adapt to whatever comes our way. Right now we are planning on having a season. We are training like we are going to ski a full World Cup season,” Hamilton said. “We are going to be living in a pretty changed world. If we don’t have a World Cup season, a lot of expectations past this year will have to change. Who knows what next season would look like? Those questions are really hard to answer right now.”
The Snowmass 50 mountain bike race — formerly called the Power of Four — was held last weekend, with Aspen local John Gaston cruising to the individual win. Crystal Anthony, of Bentonville, Arkansas, was 10th overall to lead the women. With most other races this summer, including the Aspen Backcountry Marathon and Golden Leaf Half Marathon, having been canceled, the Skico races could end up being the only significant races held in the area this summer because of the pandemic.
An announcement on the World Cup ski season is expected by the end of September.
“We can just hope it works out,” Hamilton said. “If it doesn’t, we’ll be really fit for the winter and maybe we’ll be back here and jump into some skimo races or something. No matter what happens, it will be a fun winter. Obviously we got our fingers crossed for racing.”