Gaston brothers win another Power of Four skimo race a decade after their first |

Gaston brothers win another Power of Four skimo race a decade after their first

John Gaston, right, and his brother Pete Gaston regroup after reaching the base of Aspen Mountain after finishing the Power of Four ski mountaineering race on Saturday, March 5, 2022, in Aspen.
Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times

Ten years later and little seems to have changed, at least on the race course. Much like they did a decade ago when they were a mere 25, brothers John and Pete Gaston paired up to win the Audi Power of Four ski mountaineering race on Saturday in a throwback to their younger days.

Unlike John, who is active on skimo’s World Cup and a member of the U.S. national team, Pete hasn’t put on a race bib much the past few years. But, when you get called into the game by someone like John, you better be ready to compete.

“He’s dabbled in a couple of other races over the years. But I think his last one was still over five years,” John said after Saturday’s race from the base of Shadow Mountain in Aspen. “But he’s my brother and we hang out and do a lot of events together and I know he’s off the couch one of the fittest people in this town and we ski very similarly. I was a lot more confident in him than he was in himself.”

The Gaston brothers finished this year’s Power of Four, which takes racers up and over all four of the Aspen Skiing Co. ski areas, in 4 hours, 53 minutes, 32 seconds. It was far from a blistering pace — John and fellow national team member Cam Smith hold the course record, set only last year, in 4:15:21.38 — but it still put them well ahead of the runner-up duo of Joseph DeMoor and John O’Neill’s time of 5:37:53. Eric Poore and Michael O’Brien were third in the men’s open division in 5:47:15.

This being the 12th year Skico has hosted the Power of Four, this was John’s 10th victory, most coming alongside fellow Aspenite Max Taam, who did not race this year. John did not compete in the first Power of Four, held in 2011, but won the second in 2012 alongside his partner and brother, Pete. Billy Laird and Brian Smith won in 2017, when John Gaston and Taam did not compete because of the world championships.

Along with their skimo exploits, the Gastons are most known for being the founders of Strafe Outerwear, its main shop being located at the base of Aspen Highlands.

“He did exactly what I expected and pulled through and crushed it. And he did get a very last-minute call-up, I will say,” John said of Pete on Saturday. “Props to Pete, he handled it like a champ. Put in a couple days of training, dealt with the stress pretty well. We had no time goals, but we did have the win goal.”

John had held out some hope of possibly partnering with Smith for a second year in a row. But Smith, who comes from Crested Butte by way of Rockford, Illinois, opted to compete in Europe this past weekend. The two are arguably — although, in reality, no one is arguing – the fastest skimo duo in the United States at the moment.

Both will be at the center of the U.S. Ski Mountaineering Association’s push to be part of the 2026 Winter Olympics in Italy, where skimo will make its debut at the Games. While the U.S. is rising fast in the sport, it still has a lot of work to do to catch up to most of Europe, where the sport is far more established. And, since Olympic quota spots depend largely on World Cup success, the Americans are just hoping to get the invite to Italy, whether that be a single athlete or a couple.

Even though he’d be well into his late 30s by then, John is open to the idea of going should the stars align in his favor.

“I will definitely be a bit old. I think I can still be pretty competitive in the individual race at that age, just because the current world champion is actually like 38,” John said. “It’s the biggest stage in the world and anyone who tells you they wouldn’t love to go to the Olympics and represent their country in their favorite sport is absolutely lying to you. I would be absolutely psyched and it would be a huge honor, but I am definitely not counting my chickens before they hatch.”

Jordan Gaston and Caroline Tory paired to win the women’s Power of Four race on Saturday in 5:55:55, edging out Kristin Layne and Rea Kolbl by a second. Lyndsay Meyer and Sari Anderson were third in 7:04:20.

Josie Fisher and Ed Warren won the co-ed open division in 5:40:41, which was fast enough to be third overall behind the top two men’s open division finishers.

Complete results can be found here.

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