During last year’s AK Skimeister Challenge, Olympic crosscountry skier Kikkan Randall showed up and got reacquainted with her Alpine-skiing roots. Randall, who used to race competitively in Alpine, pretty much destroyed the women’s field, winning the quickly growing community race, which combines downhill and crosscountry skiing with fat-bike racing for a winter-sport trio of fun.
This year’s event, the third annual, will be held April 4, at Alyeska and race spokesman Jeremy Anderson expects just as much fun – or more — as in the past.
“The Skimeister Challenge is an alpine, Nordic and fat-tire bike triathlon,” he said. “It’s basically a race from the top of the tram down to the bottom of the mountain by the hotel, and then it’s a 6K loop on the new Girdwood Nordic trail, and a 10K fat bike that is on smaller singletrack trails.
“The finish line ends up at Challenge Alaska.”
In fact, the AK Skimeister Challenge is a fund-raiser for the Challenge Alaska Competition and Alyeska Ski Club Juniors Race programs, both based out of Girdwood. Anderson said when the idea for the winter triathlon surfaced, the very first thing in mind was to raise money for a good cause.
“We wanted it to be a fund-raiser for us, but we didn’t want it to loose the community feel and the springtime vibe,” he said.
This year promises much of the same fun. The race is held during a time of year when most competitive cross-country and alpine ski racers are winding down their seasons and can afford to have a little fun. And, Anderson said, big names come out to compete.
“Last year Kikkan Randall won the women’s race, and Mark Iverson won the men’s,” he said. “These are obviously some great athletes.”
Last year’s race attracted some 150 participants and this year Anderson said he expects about 200. In its third year, the race is quickly gaining momentum.
After the race is wrapped up there will be more fun at the Challenge Alaska headquarters, Anderson added.
“There will be a full lunch for racers and volunteers, a silent auction, three bands playing from noon to 5 p.m., and at 4 p.m., we are giving away two Alaska Airlines tickets, but you need to buy raffle tickets at $20 a piece.”
Registration is online at akskimeister.com. The site also has race course descriptions, other events (like free demos of 907 Fat Bikes) and category entries.