… In my last blog I was talking to Kylee ( if you didnt read that one, you can check it out Here). This is a follow up to Kylee’s interview. I kept the same questions for Stano Faban to have a male’s perspective on Skimo.
Stano is my Slovakian homie. He moved to Canada and became a great mentor of the sport. He definitely has a lot of experience since he competed all over the world. He has coached clinics and written publications on the sport.
You can follow Stano’s blog Here
So here you have it …
▶️ First thing first what Skimo even means to you?
Stano : To me, it is the best sport there is. Ski touring is the best way to spend time outside and skimo is the best way to race. If one wants to be fast at it then he/she must be on high technical level (switchbacks, transitions, skiing…), have big endurance capacity, and be a great descender giving the gear we use.
• how and when did you started with everything ?
S: I am ski touring since I was about 12, started with my father taking me up High Tatras mountains in Slovakia. I raced my first skimo race at about 16 but back then triathlon was my highest priority. I started putting a lot more energy into my racing and to the overall skimo community from 2007 onward. However, the last few years, I focus a bit more on work and SkinTrack website than on my training… but I am still trying to stay in shape.
• I know you organize bunch events locally now days how did that started?
S: Personally, I organized a race in Fernie in 2008 and 09. Then fully took over Canadian Nationals in Golden from awesome Ian Gale in 2014, however, we got shot down by the resort 2 years later. It is a shame cause that mountain has tremendous technical skimo terrain.Besides that, over the years, I helped to flag and put in tracks at many events.
• do you remember your first setup?
S: Yeah 🙂 180cm blue Dynastars with frame Silvretta bindings – probably around 2.5kg per ski 🙂 I did have fairly light boots Dynafit TLT 3 I think (1.6kg) but they were much fun on the down 🙂
• what’s considered nice skimo setup? What to pay attention when you shopping?
S: If I was starting racing now and wasn’t sold on the whole thing yet then I would buy a pair of light 75mm skis (Hagan and other brands make nice ones) and pair it with a boot like La Sportiva Syborg, Dynafit PDG or Scarpa Alien. I would use ATK or Hagan race bindings. Such a setup would be only about 300-400g heavier than pure race but half the price and skiing way better in the backcountry.
And what to pay attention to? Don’t buy a specific boot just cause someone said so. Buy the one that fits you the best because that one will performed the best for you, especially skiing down it will feel solid.
• any secret tips how to improve ?
S: I am a big believer starting every season (first couple of sessions) with skinning on low angle terrain (road, groomed ski run) to focus on technique – glide, stride frequency, overall posture.
And I am also a big believer on doing interval sessions well rested, thus, performing them at in the best possible technique. Otherwise, you are training at high speed with a mediocre technique – so make sure to accumulate as much time as you can using the right technique.
• what usually people do wrong when they transition from backcountry skiing into skimo racing?
S: Funny enough but in Canada most skimo racers don’t really come from a strong ski touring background. Most come from other sports. Over the years, my observation is that to race skimo you need a competitive heart first instead of a ski touring setup. Those that ski tour a lot and are strong are probably very adventurous and don’t care for racing much.
Therefore, my answer to your question cannot be straightforward. But to give you something I will say that people should strive to learn estimating how long will each climb in a race will take them as soon as they can. This will help them analyze race course maps a lot better, thus, making their experiences much more enjoyable and successful.
• I think skimo is absolutely amazing winter training for Ultra runners what you think about that ?
S: The two sports absolutely complement each other well and pretty much 90% of skimo racers trail run in the summer. For ultra-runners, I believe skimo races will push them go harder than they are used to because they are shorter. It will make them uncomfortable but our bodies need different stimulus to keep improving. Also, they will use slightly different muscle groups and will save their joints along the way.
• how different is training for skimo compared to Training for Ultra
S:I think skimo is a lot more technical and intensity is higher so that’s what you need to train more. Also, I think lots of casual ultra-runners (80-90% of the starting field) are full-time working folks and yet try to put in lots of big days. I don’t think one needs to run so much even when training for 80km race. So if you bring this mentality to skimo then you will just collect lots of ours with not much to show for it. Except for lots of pretty pictures, which is very important for the soul, that’s true 🙂
Personally, I love ski touring and I get out even more when I am not racing because I don’t have to worry much about recovery. But when focus is on racing then you need to alternate intensity and rest.
• I noticed many ultra people started with skimo maybe after Kilian is bringing more attention to this sport? Why you think Canada is still kinda ” struggling ” even we have amazing conditions here and so amazing mountains?
S: Yes, Kilian had/has huge influence on skimo growth. For me personally, he actually had influence the other way around – I started running more because of him 🙂
To answer your second question, I already eluded to this above – it comes down to competitive spirit. Canada has so much great terrain and snow that why would you think about racing? What I observe in North America is that places with not so good ski conditions (by our West Coast standards) tend to produce the most skimo racers. Places with phenomenal ski conditions produce adventurers. Personally, I see myself 50/50, I love both but I do like exploring just a tiny bit more 😉
• would you consider skimo being expensive sport?
S: It depends on your perspective/context. It could be if you decide to buy the lightest and best. However, after learning what road riders casually pay for their equipment and bikes then I don’t think skimo is super expensive.
You can buy a 2 pairs of race skins and make them last 2-3 seasons if you care for them. Boots, bindings, skis can last you for longer. And the experiences will outweigh any road or even mountain bike ride.
• do you see popularity of this sport growing since you started?
S: In US, skimo is growing super fast the last 4-5 years. This is due to more population, more competitiveness in people in general, and their resorts have more favourable skinning policies so it’s easier/safer to get into.
In Europe, it’s the same thing.
In Canada, as I eluded above, we are growing very slowly the last 5-6 years and I think it’s because there is just so much great backcountry skiing to be had 🙂
• what is your favorite spot to go on skis?
S: I really like skiing in Rogers Pass and around Duffey Lake on the Coast. But I like anywhere with good ski conditions and interesting terrain. In the winter I prefer staying conservative and just skiing powder. In the spring I try to get after some gnarlier lines and I love to jump on multi-day ski traverses.
• what’s your favorite race?
S: I like very technical races up and down, and those with overall great terrain and layout. The coolest one I ever did was Pierra Menta in France (4 day stage race). In recent years, I enjoy the course in Lake Louise and the surrounding scenery is unmatched in North America, I think.
• how different is this sport in Europe compared to Canada?
S: In some countries, skimo is almost like hockey in Canada. So if you can imagine enthusiasm here around hockey (and everything that goes with it) then you know how it’s in Europe.
To give you a specific example, the whole valley where Pierra Menta happens every year is behind the race 100% from young to old. There is up to 400 volunteers on the course every day and up to 3000-4000 thousand fans on some days.
Also, while some of North America’s best are getting very fast the Euros are still 2-3 levels above. And they have such depth in their teams that they don’t need to race World Cups to push their limits.
Youth development is also big. For example, 17-year old juniors are killing up and down. It’s absolutely amazing to watch and I think there will be 10 Kilian Jornets in 5-10 years time.
Thank you Majo and hope to get out skiing with you soon!
Stanos YouTube channel Here