Aspen ski mountaineers Taam, Gaston win ‘Grand Reverse’
The Aspen Times
Aspen ski mountaineers Max Taam and John Gaston won the revised Elk Mountains Grand Traverse on Saturday.
The course for the annual ski race from Crested Butte to Aspen, however, was changed because of the extreme avalanche conditions generated by the recent snowstorm.
Instead of the Grand Traverse 40-mile trip from Crested Butte to Aspen, the race became the ”Grand Reverse,” using an alternative course of the same distance set up as an annual backup. The course started and finished in Crested Butte with a similar distance, won by the unbeatable Aspen duo.
Taam and Gaston repeated as winners of the Audi Power of Four Ski Mountaineering Race in Aspen a month ago.
They finished the Grand Reverse course, which started at midnight, in 6 hours, 30 minutes, 18 seconds.
Taam recently finished 15th in a big international ski mountaineering competition in the French Alps. He finished 15th in the international field at the Pierra Menta, one of the top skimo events in Europe.
Gaston and Taam together have won the Power of Four five consecutive times.
The veteran ski mountaineering team of J. Marshal Thomson and Rob Krar of Crested Butte finished second Saturday in 6:40:56.
The Snowmass team of the Koons brothers finished third in 6:55:03.
The Aspen-Crested Butte duo of Sullivan and Laird was fourth in 7:13:42.
The top women’s team was Lindsay Plant and Jessie Young, the valley skiers who were seventh overall. They won the women’s division in 7:46:27.
Plant was half of the winning women’s team in the 2016 and 2015 Power of Four races.
With heavy snow falling in Aspen as well as Crested Butte, race organizers notified skiers of the course change about 3 hours before the race start.
Racers had been briefed on the possible second course, one that was needed two years ago when dangerous avalanche conditions forced a reroute of the Grand Traverse.
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