Matt Tunseth

The end of a bitter cold snap ushered in the second straight weekend of heavy snow as winter's triumphant return to Southcentral Alaska continued Saturday, Jan. 21.

The Glenn Highway was briefly closed in both directions early Saturday afternoon as the dry, drifting snow played havoc with visibility on roads in Anchorage and Eagle River. Numerous cars found the ditch, and police took the added step of asking people to stay home as the storm dropped between six inches and a foot of snow in the area.

Chugiak’s hockey team took senior night literally Friday.

All of the Mustangs’ goals came courtesy of seniors as Chugiak routed Soldotna 7-0 in a nonconference hockey game at the McDonald Center in Eagle River.

Zach Krajnik had the hottest hand for Chugiak, netting four goals and two assists. Classmate Andrew Beckett had two goals and fellow senior John Hammer also found the net.

“We’re just trying to get better every game,” said Krajnik, who scored three goals in the second period and one in the third.

It’s still January, but the Saturday, Jan. 21 showdown between the Chugiak and Wasilla girls basketball teams has all the makings of March Madness.

“I think there’s some buzz about this game, for sure,” said Chugiak head coach Ryan Hales on Friday afternoon, one day before his team hosts the defending Class 4A champion Warriors at 3 p.m.

Two local athletes are about to become international shooting stars.

“I’ve heard stories that your skis will be waxed faster than they’ve ever been before, and everybody will be asking for your autograph,” said Helen Wilson, a 15-year-old from Eagle River who is one of two Eagle River athletes who made the U.S. Junior Biathlon team that will compete at the World Youth/Junior Biathlon Championships next month in Slovakia.

Nobody had a wilder Saturday night than the Chugiak Dog Mushers Association did Jan. 14.

That’ when — under cover of darkness — the club hosted 11 sled dog teams and their drivers, who all showed up to take part in unique nighttime race through the rugged trails off Birchwood Loop.

“I love running without a headlamp in the snow,” said race marshal Jackie Fabrizzio, who organized the chaos from the club’s one-room clubhouse. “The moon’s out, it’s quiet, all you hear is the sled and the paws and breath.”

Wood smoke and bacon grease wafted through the air outside the cozy log cabin, its sturdy wooden frame holding strong against the falling snow. Nestled in the smoldering embers of a warm fire, Dutch ovens and cast iron skillets full of cornbread and fritters and sausages sizzled and popped and steamed.

You could almost hear a dog team a-coming.

In the 36 years records have been kept at the Eagle River Nature Center, it’s never been colder on Jan. 18 than it was in 2017. 

The center, located at the end of Eagle River Road in the Eagle River Valley, recorded an overnight low of minus-21 degrees Fahrenheit on Jan. 18, breaking the record set for this date by four degrees.

“When my boss drove in she said it hit minus-31 on the (Eagle River) Loop Road,” said Nature Center manager Laura Kruger, who said the center isn’t planning any special celebration in honor of the record.

Chugiak residents hoping to slow a high-density housing project visited the Eagle River Community Council last week in hopes of persuading them to join their battle against the proposal.

“Our concern is the pressure not only on that end of town but also on the intersections,” said Darryl Parks, who attended the meeting at the Eagle River Town Center building with his wife, Gina.

The Parkses live outside the Eagle River CC boundary, but were seeking a resolution from the council in opposition to a plan by the Heritage Land Bank to modify the area’s land use plan.

Glen Klinkart wants people to know Anchorage is still a pretty safe place to live.

“How many of you are afraid for your safety,” Klinkhart asked members of the Chugiak-Eagle River Chamber of Commerce during a speech Jan. 4 at the ER Ale House. “I’m not.”

Chugiak-Eagle River legislators asked for an earful and got one Tuesday night, hearing from constituents on everything from the state budget gap to the ruts in local highways during a town hall meeting at the Eagle River Town Center.

“We are here to listen to you,” said Sen. Anna MacKinnon, who along with Sen.-elect Shelley Hughes, Rep. Lora Reinbold and Rep. Cathy Tilton attended the meeting.

Many of the participants spoke in favor of cuts to government in lieu of new taxes or spending from the Alaska Permanent Fund.