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RACE | 05.22.2018 | Dennis Forte | Photo (c)Haakon Funderud Lundkvist

New world record in ski mountaineering: Lars Erik Skjervheim skis 20,939 meters of vert in 24 hours

Lars Erik Skjervheim trained three years for this day. He put in long hours of hard training, hoped for perfect conditions, and showed off his unwavering passion for ski mountaineering. During these three years, Lars gave up a lot, and his social life took a backseat to his hopes of completing this record attempt. Now, this record attempt is in the past, the weekend of May 19-20, 2018 is in the books. In 24 hours, he skied 20,939 meters of vert (68,697.5 feet) and significantly surpassed the existing record. Lars was accompanied by Malene Blikken Haukøy, whom at the same time logged 15,440 meters of vertical, (50,656 feet) which set the first-ever record for women!

The ski area of Myrkdalen is near Voss, Norway. There, the conditions for their record attempt are perfect. At precisely 3 p.m. MET May 19, 2018, the starting gun goes off. The tempo is easy and the atmosphere is quite relaxed. Skins on, climb, skins off, descend.... Round and round, both replay their routine along the course of approximately .56 miles. Friends and family of Lars and Malene are there to cheer, motivate and offer assistance to both athletes. At the half-way point, an aid station has been set up with fluids and at the highest point, there is a station with food so both athletes can get nutrition on the downhill to keep themselves fueled and hydrated without losing time.

I will never do that again.

The first few hours fly by, Lars Erik and Malene are making good progress. Meter after meter, Lars Erik is working his way toward the world record, and after the first few hours he feels quite good. His goal is to break the record of American, Mike Foote. In March 2018, he had covered 18,644 meters of vert (61,170 feet) in 24 hours, and early on Lars Erik is on target to beat that record. Nearly 10 hours in, Malene is feeling good! She has less pressure than her fellow sufferer since there is not yet any official record for women - Malene will be the first woman to complete this activity. 

It is already Sunday, May 20th, just two hours to go until the first rays of sunshine hit the course. Lars Erik’s pace begins to slow. In the glow of a head lamp, you can see his shallow fast breathing and witness the aching cramps taking over his right leg. “The hardest part of this project was between hours 14 and 19. I noticed how my energydwindled, bit by bit” he says afterward. For the remaining hours, Lars Erik fights his way through the psychological and physical low, but, as the new day breaks he finds energy anew. Another five hours lie before him, the light is at the end of the tunnel!

At precisely 3 p.m., exactly 24 hours after the starting gun went off, Malene and Lars Erik’s endeavor has come to an end - they did it! Lars Erik beats the existing record by a full 2,295 vertical meters (7,530 feet) and Malene is the first woman to set the record for a 24-hour ski mountaineering challenge. Their hardwork, desire and passion for ski mountaineering got both Lars Erik and Malene to their goal.