Val d’Isere has a great history with the Vertical Kilometer, way back in ‘96’ the ISF were the first to organize a VK here!
A time lapse of 9-years and Val d’Isere re connected with the ethos of the VK using the Olympic Bellevarde Face in 2014. For many years, Marco De Gasperi held the VK world record here of 34-minutes and 41-seconds until the Italian was dethroned by a fellow countryman and VK specialist; Urban Zemmer.
The Vertical Kilometer has traditionally started at the foot of the Olympic Bellevarde face on “the board” in the heart of the Parc des Sports Charles Diebold in the center Val d’Isere.
The route then takes the greater part of what was the route of the men’s downhill Olympic Winter Games ski route (1992), won by Austrian Patrick Ortlieb.
It’s a tough course; 2.9Km’s in length and reaches an altitude of 2809m. Average gradients over the course are 35%, however, in places it reaches 63% as presented in the first hundred meters.
Including steep passages at 49% and 56% gradient, the sting comes with the famous passage of the Columbine at 55%. Followed by gentle slopes of the Great Wall (51%) a refreshment station is provided before the push to the line passing ‘Catherine Dent’ (50%) and then a finish loop passes the Bellevarde restaurant and the arrival is at a wooden start cabin at an altitude of 2809m.
Men: Marco DE GASPERI (ITA) en 34’51” (2003)
Women: Antonella CONFORTOLA (ITA) en 42’48” (2002)
GONON and ORGUE shine on a sunny day in Val d’Isere
Following on from the Chamonix vertical kilometre, François Gonon today once again showed his competition a clean pair of heels to take victory in the 2015 Kilomètre Vertical Face De Bellevarde. Powering up the climb with hands-on-knees, Gonon was one of the few participants in the race not using poles. A disadvantage many thought but Gonon proved everyone wrong and won the race in true style in a time of 35:09.
Yoann Sert placed 2nd and 2014 winner Nejc Kuhar placed 3rd but it was a close race, the duo were separated by seconds! 35:53 to 35:58.
VK races often have different start procedures. For example in Chamonix, runners depart every 30-seconds. In the Dolomites (next weekend) a series of small group starts will take place with approximately 25 runners per group. In Val d’Isere it was an individual start. This can prove difficult! Similar to the race of truth in the Tour de France, the runners must pace themselves and judge their effort over 1000m not knowing if they are gaining or loosing time.
In the ladies race, Laura Orgue one again showed supreme climbing ability in winning the ladies race and in doing so set a new course record! Antonella Confortola’s 2002 time of 42:48 has now been reset at 40:57.
Christel Dewalle has been struggling with injury recently and although on the start list we were under the impression that she would not start. Her decision to race was a good one! Dewalle placed 2nd in 41:16 which also broke the old course record.
The final ladies podium place went to Vanesa Ortega who completed the distance in 44:05.
- Finish Elevation: 2 809 m
- Length: 2 905 m
- Altitude gain: 1000 m
- Maximum Gradient: 63 %
- Minimum Gradient: 15 %
- Average Gradient: 35 %
The Vertical Kilometer Bellevarde Face is part of the 2015 Skyrunner® World Series and will be followed by the Ice Trail Tarentaise 2-days later (preview for the ITT HERE)