After being cancelled last year due to the lack of snow the Crud to Mud Classic returned to Whistler Mountain on Sunday with a stacked field – 37 teams of two and 63 solo competitors – skiing or riding from the top of Raven to midstation, then pedaling down A-Line through the bike park. Most participants finished, despite a number of mechanicals and flats.
Given the length of the on-snow portion of the race, a 643 metre (2,100 foot) vertical drop from the top of the giant slalom course to the bike transition area, organizers at Whistler-Blackcomb decided to separate the solo ski and snowboard categories to level the playing field.
They also disregarded any past results or categories at the start line, running solos and teams in the order they registered. With the GS course getting more rutted and slushy from racer to racer, start position was an important factor in a competition where athletes were sometimes separated by just a few seconds after 1,800 metres of vertical descending.
Rob Cook proved to be the fastest solo skier of the day, winning the men’s category with a time of eight minutes, 39.77 seconds – close to 25 seconds faster than Kevin Abean, who was second on the day. Only two team categories, where transitions are a matter of a skier tagging a mountain biker, posted faster runs.
"I didn’t think I was that good in the skiing," he said. "I just wanted to be smooth and maintain a steady speed. Then I had an okay transition, I fumbled a little, and then tried to kill it on my bike.
"I couldn’t believe my time when they announced it – I suck at ski racing. I’d definitely like to see the splits and see what happened."
Cook says the GS course was long and tiring, and harder than he expected.
"I definitely felt it right away on the first push on my bike, but you use different muscles for skiing and biking and I’ve been doing a lot of cross-country riding so after taking a few breaths I was able to put the hammer down."
Cook admits that he’s a fair weather competitor, despite the fact that he consistently wins and places in local downhill and freeride races. He was on the fence whether to race the Crud to Mud this year, but at last entered as part of a friend’s stag party.
He plans to take part in the Phat Wednesday downhill series over the course of the summer, but hasn’t made up his mind whether to take part in Crankworx.