The weather forecast for this weekend had not been encouraging during the preceding week. Snow, stormy and cold. And, indeed, on Friday, it was more like January weather, but sunny(!); and on Saturday it began to snow. It looked bad. But the jet stream pushed everything south and by early Sunday morning the sky cleared up, promising a sunny and great day. CalTrans lifted chain requirements over the summit on I-80 by 7 a.m., but, unfortunately, their recorded message even at 9 a.m. still announced hazardous conditions and chain requirements. Naturally, a lot of Bay Area and Valley skiers got discouraged and decided not come up, particularly since it was still raining in San Francisco. (CalTrans' not-very-forgivable delay must drive ski area operators up the walls.)
So, the attendance at this Ski-Score-O event was not very high. Some fine stalwarts had however found their way to Royal Gorge to race white, yellow/orange courses and/or a 90-minute or a 150-minute time limit Score-O. As mentioned, they were awarded with one of the most beautiful days of the winter. The snow in the morning allowed for fast skiing, while it did soften up quite a bit by noon.
Every part of Royal Gorge is now fully Ski-O mapped. All sections of the area can be fitted on to a 1:25,000, or even practically on a 1:20,000 8x11 map. The most southern part of the spur to Point Mariah will be outside the map. For Ski-O on more confined areas, printing of larger scale, i.e. 1:15,000 or 1:10,000 will be practical.
This time the white and the yellow/orange courses were printed on 1:15,000 maps, while the Score-O controls, located both west of and east of the Summit Lodge, were printed on a 1:20,000 version. A reasonably good skier should be able to finish the white course in less than an hour, and the yellow/orange course in about 15 to 20 minutes longer. The score-O covered 21 controls with point values of one to six, with a total of 80 points. The course setter estimated that the very best skier/orienteer would collect some 50 points in 90 minutes, and that it would be very difficult to fetch all 80 points in 150 minutes.
Mike Fletcher of BAOC finished the white Course in 1.22.09, followed by Dwight Freund 1.55.30, challenged by Jossie Jahn at 1.58.30, who, however, may have missed or forgotten to punch one of the controls.
On the Score-O (150-minute time limit), Wyatt Riley of BAOC collected 65 points in 147.40 minutes, followed by Matthias Kohler of BAOC collecting 64 points in 136.30. (Matthias said later: "No, I just couldn't visit one more control" -- all that would have been necessary to pass Wyatt -- "I was simply too tired.") Mike Poulsen captured third by collecting 50 points in 147.34 minutes. Angelica Riley skated to a credible score of 46 points in 132 minutes.
Not to spoil Wyatt's victory, but put things in another perspective, it should be mentioned that Rick Oliver of the U.S. World Cup Biathlon team later in very sloppy snow, when helping us to pick up some controls, informally collected more than 50 points in about 90 minutes (plus a few white and Yellow controls). Not bad.
This year's three Ski-Os were all hampered by bad weather and therefore suffered from small attendance. However, now that Royal Gorge as well as Bear Valley are fully mapped, we will be ready again for the next season.