Season finale is all fun

Skiers jump at the chance to cut loose


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Chugiak’s Sara Hartke shows her Valentine’s Day spirit while clearing the jump.

Matt Tunseth

Sometimes you just need to cut loose.

That was the idea behind the Thunderbird Classic relay races held Feb. 9 at East High, an event that featured costumed skiers, blaring surf music and the only ski jump of the Nordic ski season.

“It’s nice to kind of have a chill day,” said Chugiak senior David McPhetres, who teamed with Alex Loan, Sam Hartke and Sarissa Lammers to place fourth in the mixed relay.

Skiers and coaches said winning was secondary to having a good time at the wacky race, the final meet of the regular season. McPhetres said the event was a nice opportunity to unwind in advance of this weekend’s region races.

“This is probably one of the more fun races of the year,” he said.

Race organizers built a small optional jump into the course, a feature not normally — if ever — seen in classic ski races. Most skiers chose to avoid the jump, but plenty went sailing over the edge to the delight of the large crowd on hand. McPhetres was one of the brave ones, and he managed to keep himself upright despite the awkward landing. Afterward, he said he wasn’t worried about hurting himself.

“If I fall, I fall,” he said.

Eagle River coach Liz Turner said she had mixed feelings about the jump, which organizers sprung on coaches the day of the race.

“I told them it was up to them,” Turner said.

Turner said the race was a good way for skiers to take their minds off the upcoming region and state races.

“It’s been a difficult season, so this is a good way to just kind of reset,” she said.

Many skiers showed up in pink Valentine’s Day-themed costumes or other wacky outfits, including a hot dog, Batman, a cow and several that simply defied description.

Chugiak coach Chris Morhain said he only had one piece of advice before sending his skiers out onto the course.

“I told them to just have fun,” Morhain said.

South’s Eric Backstrom, Janey Hoefler, Seiji Takagi and Marion Woods won the race, which featured two boys and two girls on each team. Eagle River’s top foursome of Will Timmons, Hannah Stevens, Summer Frazier and Alec Smith finished 11th.

Racers now turn their attention to this weekend’s Cook Inlet Conference races, which begin Friday, Feb. 15 with classic races set for noon at Kincaid Park. Saturday, Feb. 16 will feature a freestyle relay race, also beginning at noon at Kincaid.

For complete results, visit www.anchoragenordicski.com

 

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

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