• The North Face Helps Build New Elite Asian Adventure Team

    18 June 2011

    The North Face has a long history of supporting adventure athletes in North America and now has partnered with Asia Pacific Adventure’s Athlete team to help develop one of the first elite adventure sports teams in Asia.

    Established in 2007, The North Face Greater China Team is made of mostly Asia-based experienced adventure sports athletes that have a

    passion for adventure sports, new challenges, and exploring different cultures and landscapes. Members range from mountain bikers, kayakers and rock climbers to mountaineers and endurance runners. One of the main focuses of the team is competing in the sport of adventure racing, which combines several adventure disciplines into one race, including but not limited to: trail running, rope skills, mountain biking, orienteering, and some form of paddling. Put simply, it’s a wilderness race from point A to point B using any form of nonmotorized transport that’s determined by the organizer.

    Several successful adventure race finishes in 2006 showcased the talents of this new team, and subsequently helped to gain the support of the world’s premier outdoor outfitter, The North Face. Top results in 2006 included 1st and 2nd place finishes in the two biggest adventure races of the year in Mainland China: the 24-hour The North Face Moganshan Exploration Race and the 3 day stage Tianmu Mountain 2006 China Tele Cup.

    This was then followed by a convincing 25 minute mixed team victory in Macau’s Action Asia Challenge, as well as, proving to be the strongest overall team in the Asia Miles Action Asia Challenge Hong Kong.

    Since The North Face committed to long term support of the team in 2007, the success has continued, as well as, the recruitment of several additional team members from around the region.

    In March, the team stormed to victory not only in the Mixed Elite division, but also took the Overall Elite team win in the Porsche Outward Bound Adventure Race. The North Face team claimed the lead in the mid-race orienteering section and never looked back, going on to hammer the last two paddling sections and win by 18 minutes over the first place all Men’s team made up of several local adventure racing champions. It was a big win and was one of the first times in Asia that a mixed team took the overall win for an adventure race of this scale.

    The winning momentum continued into April’s Powerbar Bonaqua Adventure sprint race series. The first race, the most technical of the series, was torn up by team members Ryan S. Blair and Jeanette Holmes-Thomson who won the overall Men’s and Women’s titles respectively.

    A few weeks later, Beijing-based member, Piers Touzel, then came through with a huge win in Mainland China’s biggest mountain bike event of the year, Huangshan Mountain Bike Festival. Piers beat riders from over 20 nations including the entire China TREK team and Japan’s #1 ranked pro mountain biker. The finish was unbelievably close after Piers and the second place rider were neck and neck the whole race. They swapped the lead around 10 times in the last lap and with 500 meters to go were still together. It came down to a technical sprint finish and Piers pulled out the victory by just 15 seconds! In May, The North Face Greater China team qualified for the 2007 Adventure Racing World Championship. This elite-level adventure race took place in the Lochaber region of Scotland, attracting 200 athletes from 20 nations in a 500+ km expedition, non-stop format.

    The team was the only team from Asia represented and included the first Hong Kong Chinese (Tsang Sui Keung, Stone) and the first Singaporean (Esther Tan Cheng Yin) to qualify and compete at the World Championships. The team reached the top 25 during the race but unfortunately succumbed to unexpected injuries on day 4 and decided to withdrawal in order to avoid long term injury, and to recover in time for the rest of 2007’s events in Asia.

    Apart from racing the team has also had exciting news with its expedition team members. In June, team member Geordie Yip successfully summited

    solo the highest mountain in North America, Mt. Mckinnley (also known as Denali). The feat was even more worthy as Geordie also helped rescue an American climber stranded on the mountain suffering from the altitude and extreme temperatures.

    The recent racing and expedition success has been hard-earned but team Director Ryan S. Blair points out that its not all about winning or reaching the summit, “At the end of the day this is just as much about living an exciting and adventurous lifestyle where we can explore our own personal boundaries, while also hoping to inspire others to enjoy and help preserve our wonderful outdoors.”

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