Best skiing events extend into the spring season
Everybody has a tick list of some sort. If yours happens to include cross-country skiing Kincaid Park after midnight with a crowd to cheer you own, then you won’t want to miss the Nordic Skiing Association of Anchorage’s Ski Kincaid All Night 24 (SKAN 24) race. It runs from 10 a.m. on Saturday, March 29, to 10 a.m. the next day.
If you’re feeling particularly ambitious you can race solo – or as a dual, quad, or eight-person relay team. If you’re driven less by the tick list and more by daylight, you also can participate in 12- or six-hour versions of the race. There’ll be a high school cup award this year, plus new games and challenges throughout the night.
“Right now, we’re planning for our biggest year yet – the race has been growing each year by about 30 percent,” says race director Megan Piersma. As of press time, the finishing touches were still being put on this year’s plan, but all the classic SKAN24 goodness is set: a barbecue dinner, headlamp demos, a waffle-and-bacon breakfast, and lots of raffle prizes. Get the latest details online at www.anchoragenordicski.com/skan24.htm.
While most people at SKAN choose the skate-ski technique, further north and a little earlier in the season is Denali Nordic Ski Club’s 14th annual Oosik Classic ski race, set for March 15 in Talkeetna. The 25- and 50-kilometer classic technique race boasts a new course every year. In fact, since Talkeetna’s established trail system isn’t long enough to accommodate a race of this length, volunteers build much of the trail from scratch every year.
“Efforts start in January with packing, brushing and leveling the chosen trail,” said Iris Vandenham, race director for the Oosik Classic, in an email. “We are dealing with private property permission, road crossings and avoiding the train tracks and open water.”
Snowmachiners also line the trail to support the skiers, she said – a great example of how motorized and nonmotorized users can thrive together.
Vandenham also explained that with the Oosik crowds come the logistical challenges of rousing Talkeetna from its winter sleep: Plowing the roads to the lodge, getting the water turned back on, and tending to summer client numbers in the restaurant with winter levels of staff.
“These are the main reasons we keep the (number of participants) capped, to assure that the town of Talkeetna can keep delivering a high level of service standard,” she said.
The good-better-best news? In addition to the official feed stations along the trail, you can expect lots of unofficial stations with drinks, food… and bacon. And don’t forget the after-party at the Hangar, with Denali Brewing Co. beer and music from the Super Saturated Sugar Strings. Get more information about the Oosik Classic at www.denalinordicskiclub.org/.
Finally, if you’re in the mood to travel for a fun, distance event, visit Skagway for the Buckwheat Ski Classic, scheduled for March 22 (registration closes on March 18). It has a similar vibe as the Oosik, and gets Skagway folks up and about after a winter hibernation. Get more information at buckwheatskiclassic.com.