Top skiers prep for showdown

Battle for Nordic supremacy begins today at Kincaid


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Eagle River’s Brenna Wheeler double-poles up a hill at Kincaid Park during the Cook Inlet Conference meet on Saturday, Feb. 18. In Anchorage. The state Nordic ski meet begins today at Kincaid.

STAR PHOTO BY MATT TUNSETH

If Chugiak senior Isaac Lammers was bothered by his runner-up individual Skimeister finish at the Cook Inlet Conference Nordic Ski Championships at Kincaid Park on Saturday, Feb. 18, he sure wasn’t letting on.

“You can’t be disappointed with that,” Lammers said after finishing second to Service’s John Glen in the battle for region supremacy.

Despite finishing about eight seconds off the pace in the combined two-day individual event, Lammers said he’s got bigger fish to fry this weekend — and beyond.

“The crucial thing is peaking for state next week. That and nationals,” said Lammers, a member of Team Alaska, which will travel to Soldier Hollow, Utah, at the end of February for nationals.

Chugiak coach Mikey Evans said he wasn’t concerned with Lammers’ head-to-head loss to Glen.

“The races that really matter are still coming up,” Evans said.

Lammers will be among the favorites when the state meet begins today at noon at Kincaid Park with individual freestyle races. On Friday, skiers will ski an individual classic race and on Saturday the competition wraps up with a mixed technique relay race.

Though he finished second at the CIC meet, Lammers thinks he’s got a good chance to earn his first individual state title this weekend.

“I’m definitely going to bring way more next week,” he said. “I know he’s there.”

Glen won the boys’ individual freestyle race by 5.6 seconds over Lammers, then added 2.4 seconds to his cushion by skiing the fastest classic relay leg on Saturday.

The Cougars won the boys relay and the overall boys team title, Chugiak was second.

On the girls side, South’s Marion Woods won the Skimeister title for the Wolverines, who also claimed the girls’ relay and overall team titles. Woods also won Friday’s freestyle race.

Chugiak’s boys team also got strong performances from junior Alex Loan, who was seventh in the individual freestyle and skied the fifth-fastest classic leg, and sophomore David McPhetres, who was sixth in the freestyle and had the 15th best time Saturday.

Sophomore Sarissa Lammers and junior Sam Hartke turned in the best results for the Chugiak girls, who were fifth in the relay and sixth overall. Both Lammers siblings, along with Loan and McPhetres, are members of Team Alaska’s Junior Olympics squad.

Eagle River’s boys and girls teams each finished seventh in Saturday’s relay and in the overall team standings.

Hannah Stevens was 14th in the freestyle race and 18th in the classic to lead the Eagle River girls, while Will Timmons was 16th Friday and 23rd Saturday for the Wolves’ boys.

Wolves coach Liz Turner said Stevens had hoped to be Top-10, but the first-year coach told the Wolves’ junior that she, too, has bigger races ahead.

“I told her, ‘this race is not your focus,’” Turner said.

Like the challenge faced by Chugiak’s Junior Olympics athletes, Turner said getting Stevens ready for state and the upcoming Arctic Winter Games in Whitehorse was more important than a top CIC finish.

“We’re trying to have her peak for Arctic Winter Games,” she said.

While they didn’t get anyone on the podium, the Wolves did have plenty of reason to cheer at the post-race awards ceremony on Saturday. The team was honored with Region IV’s prestegious Spirit Award, an honor that had gone to rival Chugiak in each of the past three seasons.

“We were really excited,” Turner said. “I’m really proud of the kids.”

Turner said she put a big priority on making sure her athletes were good sports on and off the trails all season long.

“I really encourage the kids to say please, be courteous, cheer for other team and then help clean up after the race,” she said. “I feel there’s more to it than just racing.”

 

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

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