Tahoe skier Smaine is top ironman at Gunbarrel 25
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — Kyle Smaine wasn’t planning on competing in the Gunbarrel 25, and he definitely didn’t plan on winning.
But on Saturday under warm and sunny conditions, the South Lake Tahoe skiing star did both.
Smaine completed 51 laps on the bumpy, mogul-filled face (East Bowl, due to conditions) in six hours at Heavenly Mountain Resort’s California Lodge. He recorded 81,600 vertical feet and came within two laps of setting the all-time mark. He actually did 52 laps but his last lap came after 4 p.m., the scheduled end of the event.
The ironman lap record is 53 set by Tyler Bradford, according to a plaque in the California Lodge.
“It was not my intention to compete, but here we are,” Smaine told the Tribune about his performance. “I was kind of peer-pressured into it. I had no pre-set goals. I hadn’t even resort skied that much this year. But once I was out there, I was having a good time.”
Smaine said he’s been mostly in the backcountry this year and hasn’t been training on bumps, but said he has been going to the gym, “so that helped.”
“But I felt horrible the next day,” Smaine said. “I felt better after I got on a bike and loosened up, but my quads and back were incredibly sore. I wasn’t expecting to do so many laps.”
Smaine said he lined up, up front to start the race and paid attention to the leaders on the first few laps, including the defending ironman champion Brandon Commanda.
Smain and Commanda were as close as you can get, even riding the same lift for a while. Commanda finished with 50 completed laps.
“I knew Brandon had won it before so I was keeping him in view,” Smaine said. “We rode the lift together for a while and it was a head-to-head battle for the last several laps.”
Smaine, who narrowly missed qualifying for the 2018 Winter Olympics by one position, said he’s working on content creation for the brands he works with, including racing on Fischer prototype skis.
About 200 competed in the event, which took a 2-year hiatus due to the pandemic.
Oliver Fair was the youngest competitor at age 6.
For full results broken down by category, visit here.
Correction: This article has been updated various times to reflect Smaine came close to the ironman lap record, but didn’t break the mark set by local Tyler Bradford. Also the story has been updated to reflect that the event didn’t take place for two years due to COVID. The results have been updated and a link provided to view results broken down by category.
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