Triumph and tumbles at annual Skiathlon

Fast, fun course challenges racers


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Chugiak’s Alex Loan gets tangled up after switching from classic to skate skis during the Skiathlon race at Kincaid Park on Saturday, Jan. 26.

Matt Tunseth

No matter what name she goes by, Chugiak senior Sam Hartke proved Saturday that she’s among the top skiers in the Cook Inlet Conference.

Hartke, a senior, finished fourth at the Skiathlon event at Kincaid Park on Jan. 26, and wasn’t bothered by being incorrectly announced to the crowd as teammate Sarissa Lammers as she neared the finish line.

One problem: Lammers was sitting out the race.

“I told Sarissa, ‘You didn’t even have to race and you got fourth!’” Hartke joked after the race.

The unique event — in which athletes skied a 6.1-kilometer classic leg before switching skis and doing a 5.6-kilometer freestyle skate — was contested on a chilly, lightning-fast layout.

“It was hard and fast,” said Eagle River’s Wil Timmons, who finished 13th in the boys race.

The race featured several crashes, including a massive pile-up in the girls’ B race that took out nearly the entire field. Fortunately, all racers returned to their feet to finish the race.

“I fell a couple different times,” Hartke said.

Although the transition from one discipline to another was tricky, Hartke said she enjoyed splitting the race into two distinct halves.

“That was really cool,” she said.

After reaching the transition zone, she said she got her second wind.

“You kind of feel some relief,” she said.

Other top finishers in the girls race included Eagle River’s Hannah Stevens in eighth, along with Chugiak’s Kate Arthen (14th) and Shannon Casey (15th).

Chugiak’s Alex Loan was the top local finisher in the boys race in ninth. He agreed that the unique format was a fun break from traditional racing.

“It’s one of my favorite races,” Loan said.

If anyone had reason to complain it was Loan, who lost several seconds in the transition zone when his ski got tangled with a teammate’s pole.

“I could tell something was wrong,” he said.

Undeterred, Loan calmly unhooked the errant pole from his skate ski and continued down the course.

“I’m going to have to work on that,” he said.

Nordic skiers are beginning to round into midseason form as the season nears its most important races. High school skiers will take a week off before returning to action Feb. 9 for the classic relay at East High, the final meet of the regular season. Regions are scheduled for Feb. 15-16 at Kincaid. Club skiers will be in action this weekend for the Besh Cup, which will be held Saturday and Sunday (Feb. 2-3) in Fairbanks.

Timmons said the idea between now and the end of the season will be for skiers to slowly taper down in order to be at their fittest in the final races.

“The idea is to peak for state,” he said.

For complete race results, visit anchoragenordicski.com.

 

matt.tunseth@alaskastar.com.

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