On March 4 and 5, the 7th DYNAFIT ANDORRA SKIMO race will take place in Andorra. The organizer of the race, Gerard Riart, spoke to us about the evolution of this sport and shared very important news with us: this year the DYNAFIT ANDORRA SKIMO race is part of the international race calendar of the Ski Mountaineering Federation European Series.
ANDORRA SKIMO is a long-distance mountain ski crossing in a race format for teams of 2 or 3 people. The ANDORRA SKIMO aims to go around two valleys of Andorra and the three ski resorts of the Principality in stages by mountain skiing. The race will feature both the professionals in this sport, as well as lovers of mountain skiing, who will be looking for their challenge.
Interview: Irina Rybalchenko
The DYNAFIT ANDORRA SKIMO joins the ISMF Calendar of ski mountain races for this year. Now it is the only one of the 5 tests that are contested in Europe. Are you satisfied?
Indeed! For us, it is very important to be on the international circuit of the ISMF. It’s what we’ve been seeking for many years! This is a great success for us and a step forward for DINAFIT ANDORRA SKIMO.
This circuit is the only test in Europe (the rest have already been done or will be done in Japan, Canada and Korea). It is a new circuit that the international federation created to distinguish the best races in Europe and the world, as well as the most beautiful and well-organized circuit. This circuit must be experienced at least once in your life.
What do you expect from this decision? How can this decision affect DINAFIT ANDORRA SKIMO?
For us, it is a pride and satisfaction to be part of this international calendar. It is for the first time, and it is very important. So now we can grow internationally.
These tests are considered the best in all countries. They are performed completely out of the piste. The SKIMO World Cup circuit is integrated, and some races occur on the slopes of ski resorts (like, for example, in Arinsal). But our test takes place out of the piste, and this is about 70 km: from Naturland to Grau Roig and then from Grau Roig to Arcalís. We almost go around the country through the unknown and wild territory to discover another Andorra, an Andorra of high mountains.
What is the budget for the contest? The budget is 130 thousand euros. About 500 people will participate this year. This is slightly less than last year because there was a decline after the pandemic. But, on the other hand, if the participation is compared with other similar tests in the Pyrenees, there are practically no other tests with up to 150 participants. In other words, by the number of participants, we triple any race in the Pyrenees. Therefore, we are considered the most important race in the Pyrenees.
What is the prize pool for the winners?
There are three categories. All participants compete in a team of two or three people (individual participation is excluded). There are men’s, women’s and mixed categories. First place in each category has a prize pool of 1000 euros per team, second place 600 euros per team and third place 400 euros per team.
This year, as a novelty, we will give a special prize to those who participated in seven editions of SKIMO. This year we have eight people who have done SKIMO all seven times.
You have been one of the organizers of this event for many years. As a good expert, tell us about the evolution of this sport.
This sport has changed a lot. Now we have more courses, and more professionals and the number of female participants has increased: this year almost 30% of the participants are women. At the next Olympic Games, SKIMO will be presented for the first time as an Olympic discipline.
Unlike the World Championship, both professionals and amateurs of this sport can participate in our contest. Of the 500 participants this year, we have about 50 professionals.
Do you require a license from members? Or anyone confident in his level can enter the competition?
Yes, participants must have a license. If they don’t have it, we will provide insurance for the day of the course. SKIMO-6 is open to everyone. If any of the participants do not have a sufficient level, in the middle of the course, we will suggest that he leave it. On the second day, for SKIMO-4, we have to make sure that a participant has the experience they need. Because the race from Grau Roig to Arcalis is much more technical.
Is it difficult to organize such a course?
I always like to thank our volunteers. 150 people stay a few days before to sleep in the shelters in the mountains to help us with the organization. The Red Cross, the fire brigade and the civil protection also help us conduct this complex test. Everything is very difficult because under the natural conditions that exist in winter, avalanches can descend in wild untouched places, and we need the help of professionals.
Special thanks again to our volunteers for their collaboration!
If we compare the SKIMO10, which is more difficult, for example, with the Pierra Menta (ski mountain race in the Alps), where is Andorra’s position in terms of complexity and technique?
SKIMO-10 is already similar in style to Pierra Menta. We want to organize the third day of the race to finish at the Pal-Arinsal station. Thus, we would have made all the ski stations in the country. The Coma Pedrosa area is complicated … In this sense, we definitely will have the same level as Pierra Menta or any other race in the Alps.
Is this the project for next year?
I don’t know if it will be for next year, but for the 10th edition for sure!