Silverthorne’s Grace Staberg sets North American record in vertical ski quest
Staberg just shy of world women’s mark at Copper Mountain
Grace Staberg of Silverthorne skied 56,153 feet over a 24-hour period from 9 a.m. Monday through 9 a.m. Tuesday.
Staberg’s accomplishment at Copper Mountain Resort earned her the North American record for most vertical feet skied by a woman in a 24-hour period. Staberg achieved the continental record in her quest to ski more than 58,000 feet, which would have eclipsed the world record of 57,890 feet set last month by Martina Valmassoi of Italy.
“It was really hard,” Staberg said Tuesday night. “I’m not sure I totally grasped how hard it would be beforehand. My biggest thing was realizing how willing the Summit ski mountaineering community is to support one another. It was special to have so many people come out and pace me, come out and crew, come and cheer.”
In her 24 hours of continuous skiing at Copper, Staberg said the first half went well, keeping a good pace and skiing 30,000 feet in the first 12 hours.
Staberg said she hit her first wall at around 11 p.m. Monday, leading to a difficult stretch through the night where she fought exhaustion and grogginess. When the sun came up Tuesday morning, Staberg said she felt better. But the final two hours of the attempt were difficult due to sheer exhaustion.
“I just really — I didn’t want to quit unless I got hurt or something went really awry,” Staberg said.
Staberg, a member of the U.S. Ski Mountaineering Association who won multiple medals in Europe this winter, said more than 20 Summit residents paced her up the mountain.
“They talked to me, when I did not have the energy to talk,” Staberg said. “They made sure I was eating and drinking.”
Staberg said she did not stop during the 24 hours, and even had skis prepped for each lap so she didn’t have to reapply skins. It was at the base where volunteers helped her with food and water. As the record attempt wore on, she said she found it hard to chew and swallow whole foods, so she opted for energy gels and a drink mix to provide her with enough calories to keep going.
Staberg said her gear held up well and that her feet were beat up by the end of the attempt but not any more than a typical race.
She said the weather held up nice, and she credited Copper for grooming overnight Monday, which she said helped.
“Copper really deserves a shoutout,” Staberg said. “They went above and beyond whenever they could to make this as seamless as possible.”
Staberg said she might eventually go for the record again, but she doesn’t have much of a desire to repeat the attempt in ski boots right now.
Fully aware he was in the midst of the mountain bike race of his life, Aspen’s John Gaston said he “tried to not think too far ahead” to prevent the magnitude of the moment from getting to him. He eventually finished runner-up in the iconic race.
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