XVII Mezzalama Trophy - 19 April 2009
The 17th Mezzalama Trophy will take place on 19 April 2009. This classic ski mountaineering marathon takes place once every two years and dates back to 1933. As usual it starts at Breuil-Cervinia and finishes at Gressoney la Trinité via the Monte Rosa glacier and the summit of Monte Castore.
These are decisive hours for the 17th Mezzalama Trophy. The uncertain weather conditions and the remarkable amount of snow which is forecast to fall onto the the existing masses certainly make the task of Adriano Favre - mountain guide and competition director - and his men no easier. Luca Mercalli has been the official weather forecaster for the event for numerous years and he foresees unstable conditions for the end of this week. It is highly likely that the competition will take place nevertheless. For the latest news we recommend you check in on the official website www.trofeomezzalma.it.
The racecourse is almost completely set thanks to the impressive work of the mountain guides. The snow cover is excellent and Gressoney can be skied down to, which should favour a new course record. It is highly likely that for safety reasons the entire west face of Castore will be ascended on foot with skis firmly strapped to rucksacks, just as the Naso section on Lyskamm.
Talking about records, one has certainly been beaten already: the number of participants this year has risen to 1200, i.e. 400 teams of three! This is an incredible number of competitors if one bears in mind the length and demanding nature of the race and the altitude (Castore peaks at 4221m). As a result a control station has been established at Colle del Breithorn, at circa 1800m height gain which the competitors must reach in 2.30 hours (2.45 for women). The teams which manage to reach the gate in time will be permitted to continue, while the others will be forced to abandon the race. This severe rule safeguards the organisation from excessive delays at altitude... given the unstable weather, this is certainly no bad thing.
The sheer number of athletes who have registered for the event are a sign that ski mountaineering competitions are not exclusively the terrain of super athletes, but also to many other mountaineers. All those taking part though are highly fit and their training has been helped this year by the early snow which enabled most to start way back in November. For many the Mezzalama represents a personal challenge, a sort of bet with themselves to complete the long journey between Cervinia and Gressoney, via the mountains Castore and Naso del Lyskamm. The race is certainly a fitting conclusion, an aim, to finish the skiing season in style.
The actual competition should provide a great battle at the very top, with a series of highly competitive and motivated teams. Those worth noting, above all, are Matteo Eydallin and Denis Trento, the reigning European Champions and winners of the Pierra Menta 2009 and Tour du Rutour Extrème 2009. These two athletes belong to the Courmayeur Military Sports Squad and they will team up with the recently crowned world champion, Manfred Reichegger. Another dream team to look out for is the international trio comprises of Florent Troillet from Switzerland, Kilian Jornet Burgada from Spain and Lorenzo Holzknecht from Italy. They will be up against the likes of Dennis Brunod racing with the French team... and many many others.
The women's competition should hold no surprises in store, apart from perhaps the time which Francesca Martinelli, Roberta Pedranzini and World Champion Laetitia Roux will achieve when racing from Cervinia to Gressoney. The three athletes are the strongest this season and they stand a good chance of beating the previous female record which stands at 5 hours 37 minutes and was set by the two athletes from Bormio and Gloriana Pellissier from Valle d'Aosta in 2005. Pellisier, winner of 4 Mezzalama contests, will compete in an unusual mixed team with two mountain guides, Marco Camandona and myself (we competed together in the Pierra Menta 2009).
Without wishing to enter into polemics about team formations, I could end by joking that Gloriana will aim to imitate Queen Margaret on the glacier of Monte Rosa... the curious fact is that in 2009 the role of the Queen and that of the Mountain Guides is inverted: the Queen will be dragging the sledge, while the Guides will be "sitting comfortably"!
text by Matteo Giglio www.matteogiglio.com
photo Marco Spataro www.marcospataro.com
XVII EDITION TROFEO MEZZALAMA - Sunday 19th April 2009
Valtournenche – Saturday 18th April 2009 – Sport and congress centre
10,00-h.18,00 - Teams check-in and control of teams’ equipment
14,00–h. 18,00 - Journalists check-in
15,00-19,00 - Sport and congress centre – Post cancellation service
18,30 - Congress centre – Technical Briefing
Breuil Cervinia – Sunday 19th April 2009
4,15-5,15 - Control of avalanche transceiver (ARVA)
5,00 - Breuil-Cervinia /Plateau Rosà lifts opening
5,30 - Departure
6,00 - Swiss skilift Plateau Rosà II opening
GRESSONEY- LA-TRINITE’ – Sunday 19th April 2009
06,30 - Staffal-Gabiet lift opening.
9,00-17,00 - Post cancellation service at the Poste Italiane tent, situated at the arrival area
The PRIZE-GIVING of the Trofeo Mezzalama will take place at 15h30
Starting from 16h15 the return buses to Breuil-Cervinia will be ready to leave.