No more time for fun and games

Skiers get serious as regions, state draw near


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Chugiak’s Duncan Keith shows off his 70s ski style during the Thunderbird Classic relays on Feb. 10.

STAR PHOTO BY MATT TUNSETH

After a bit of fun, it’s time to get down to business.

Prep Nordic skiers ended their regular season with a bit of Valentine’s whimsy on Saturday, Feb. 10 with the Thunderbird Classic, a co-ed classic relay race in which skiers showed up dressed in get-ups ranging from cute to downright bizarre.

“The kids all had a lot of fun, there’s a lot of team spirit,” said Eagle River coach Liz Turner.

Among the flashiest skiwear on display were superhero capes, a human banana costume and plenty of hot pink tights, underwear and tu-tus.

“It gives everybody a little bit of an opportunity to relax,” said Chugiak coach Mikey Evans.

The annual race was a way for athletes to blow off a little steam before the high school race season gets serious, but there was still plenty of serious racing going on. Chugiak’s “A” team of Isaac and Sarissa Lammers, Alex Loan and Amy Hartke teamed up to win the 4X6.2-kilometer classic relay in a time of 1 hour, 21 minutes, 58.3 seconds, proving the Mustangs have plenty of horses ready to contend when the Cook Inlet Conference meet is held Friday and Saturday (Feb. 17-18) at Kincaid Park in Anchorage.

Eagle River’s “A” team of Will Timmons, Jackie Klecka, Ben Smith and Hannah Stevens was 10th.

The region meet ranks second only to state in importance for prep skiers, and coaches for both local teams said they’ve been doing their best to make sure athletes are ready to turn in their best performances the next couple of weeks.

“We try to arrange our workout schedule that way so the kids are peaking at regions,” Turner said.

Last season, Chugiak’s boys finished third overall while the CHS girls were fourth despite getting an overall Skimeister performance from senior Kinsey Loan. Eagle River’s boys were sixth and the girls seventh.

Turner said she would love to see her team improve on those finishes.

“We definitely take into account the team standings,” she said.

Evans believes his boys team has the ability to contend with the region’s best.

“We need to be satisfied with a top two finish as a team,” he said.

Leading the way for the Chugiak boys will be Isaac Lammers, who has been the CIC’s top individual boys skier all season. Evans said he believes Lammers should be among the favorites to bring home the Skimeister crown.

“He’s an exceptional athlete,” Evans said.

Along with Lammers, Evans said Alex Loan and David McPhetres should also be gunning for high finishes.

“All three of those guys we expect to be within striking distance of the top 10,” he said.

For the Wolves, Turner said Timmons, Smith and Evan Fisher are poised for strong showings, while on the girls side, Stevens has been the team’s top performer. However, Turner said Klecka, Sarah Frankl and Brenna Wheeler have also been rounding into form as of late.

For the Chugiak girls, Evans said expectations are down a bit from last season, when Chugiak finished fourth at regions and went on to win the state title in Fairbanks.

“With the ladies, this is definitely a rebuilding year,” he said.

Sarissa Lammers is a top 10 contender, Evans said, but the rest of the team will be fighting to move into position to make the state meet team. There are no qualifying standards to ski at state, but each team is only allowed to bring seven boys and seven girls to the meet — which means regions is where coaches decide who makes the cut and who stays home.

“It’s going to be interesting,” Evans said.

Skiing begins at noon Friday with individual freestyle races. The boys will tackle a 10-kilometer course and the girls will ski a 7.5-kilometer layout. Saturday’s racing will feature boys’ and girls’ classic relay races, with the action again getting underway at noon.

For complete high school race results, visit www.anchoragenordicski.com

 

Contact Matt Tunseth at 694-2727 or matt.tunseth@alaskastar.com

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