Eric Packer (Stratton Mountain School T2 Team) broke a pole about 7 k into Sunday’s 42 k Engadin Ski Marathon and didn’t get a replacement until about 20 k. (Photo: Eric Packer/Alphafoto.com)
According to Eric Packer of the Stratton Mountain School T2 team, “the Engadin was unlike any other race I’ve done.”
One of some 80 Americans in this year’s 42-kilometer freestyle race, the 23-year-old native of Anchorage, Alaska, competed in the world-famous marathon in Switzerland this past Sunday.
“The traffic out of the start was ridiculous with the pack constantly churning as people fought for position,” he wrote in an email. “If you weren’t actively moving forward, you were moving back.”
Eric Packer competed in a sprint the eve of the 2014 Engadin Ski Marathon in Switzerland. (Photo: Holly Brooks)
Packer shared lodging with a few U.S. men the weekend of the race, including Matt Gelso (Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation), Pete Kling (Alaska Pacific University) and Matt Briggs of Bend, Ore., and took part in a night sprint race the evening before.
“All the U.S. guys in the elite wave did a good job staying near the front of the pack early on across the lake,” Packer wrote. “Gelso was able to recover from a fall right at the start in order to make his way back to the front.”
At 7 k, Packer’s pole snapped — unexpectedly.
“Everyone I asked refused to give me a replacement —(I can’t blame them – how would they ever get it back?) — so I ended up waving the broken stub above my head for the next 13k or so.”
Somehow, he missed the pole-service station, but “finally got a replacement entering Pontresina at the 20k mark.”
One kilometer later, Packer found Clarke Sullivan, the U.S. group’s wax tech for the event, along the course and was able to switch out his pole yet again, this time retrieving his own.
Did this incident ruin in for Packer? Not so much. “Even with the broken pole it was an awesome race. I can’t wait to go back next year!”
Packer ended up 126th out of nearly 13,400 racers, about eight minutes back from the winner.
– Rosalie Lipfert