Janelle Smiley crosses the pond to ski with the best of the best
Written by Than Acuff
Wednesday, 02 January 2013
“It truly is a dream to follow this path”
Starting on February 2, Crested Butte resident Janelle Smiley, along with her husband and three Canadians, will be settling into a small mountain chalet heated solely by a wood stove, outside Beaufort in the Savoie region of France for three months. The reason is simple: to throw herself into the World Cup ski mountaineering (skimo) racing circuit in Europe.
Smiley started skimo racing back in 2007 on telemark gear in the Colorado Ski Mountaineering Cup (COSMIC) race circuit. Eventually she made the jump to AT gear for the races and has been making a name for herself on the North American tour ever since.
The turn for her came in 2010 when she posted numerous podium results in the Cosmic races and headed to the 2011 National Championships in Jackson Hole, Wyo.
“I was a bit apprehensive,” admits Smiley. “I won the national championships kind of by surprise.”
The win not only garnered Smiley the national title but also punched her ticket to the 2011 skimo world championships, where she posted three top 10 results, the best an American woman has ever done at the world championships.
She hit a glitch at the national championships last year but defended her home turf last year winning the women’s title in the North American Ski Mountaineering Championships here in Crested Butte.
Now, thanks to some partial sponsorship from both La Sportiva and Gore-Tex, Smiley is heading into the hotbed of skimo racing for three straight months.
The extended stay will kick off with the Ski Mountaineering World Championships in Pelvoux, France February 9-15. Provided Smiley qualifies, that is. She has to finish top eight at the national championships in Jackson Hole this weekend, January 5.
“As long as I don’t break a leg, or a ski or something, I think there’s a pretty good chance I can get top eight,” says Smiley.
From then on she’ll be on the world cup skimo tour, head over to Turkey for a ski mountaineering race there, as well as compete in the Pierra Menta in France and the Mezzalama in Italy.
“Once I get over there it will be full-on racing,” says Smiley. “I feel like there might be a chance I can be competitive. It just seemed like everything was pointing me in this direction. Go for the dream and see how I can do racing against the world.”
While both La Sportiva and Gore-Tex are helping out with expenses, she’s still scraping funds together to make it work and is looking for additional support. Check out www.smileyproject.com where you can contact Janelle or make a donation to her cause.
“It truly is a dream to follow this path,” says Smiley.