Chugiak, Eagle River skiers post top finishes at state Nordic ski meet
Sometimes great isn’t quite enough.
Chugiak’s Michael Earnhart and Adrianna Proffitt each finished near the top of the individual Skimeister standings at the ASAA/First National Bank Alaska State High School Nordic Ski Championships — though both entered the weekend hoping to take a step higher on the podium.
Earnhart finished runner-up in the boys Skimeister standings following the two-day individual competition, while Proffitt was third in the girls Skimeister competition after Friday’s classic technique races.
Service’s Alexander Maurer and West Valley’s Kendall Kramer replicated their Thursday freestyle wins with victories Friday’s classic races to claim the individual titles.
“I know they were definitely shooting for higher spots but it’s nothing to be sad about,” said Chugiak head coach Sarissa Lammers.
Earnhart said he was happy to move up one spot in the overall standings but came into the two-day race series hoping for at least one title.
“Moving up today was definitely good,” said Earnhart, who will compete at the U.S. Junior National Championships next month.
Chugiak’s Max Beiergrohslein was 13th in the Skimeister standings, the Mustangs’ Porter Blei was 16th and Mikey Connelly was 21st.
Kramer won the girls 7.5-kilometer classic technique race by more than 50 seconds to sweep both individual races and claim her third straight Skimeister title, awarded to the skier with the best combined time from Thursday’s freestyle race and Friday’s classic race.
Kramer, a senior, won the Skimeister title by more than a minute over Service’s Tatum Witter, who placed second in both races. Chugiak’s Proffitt finished third in the Skimeister standings after placing third in Thursday’s race and fourth in Friday’s race.
“Skiing in a pack is so hard because everybody’s switching positions every two seconds,” said Proffitt, a senior who was fourth in last year’s Skimeister standings.
Kramer took control of Friday’s mass-start race immediately, putting a gap between herself and the chase pack within the first kilometer.
Kramer said she never looks back and relies on her ears to keep an eye on her competitors.
“What I’ve learned to do is hear when people are cheering for me and then hear for the gap between when they cheer for me and when they cheer for the next person and that’s how I gauge how close they are,” she said. “Because my mom told me there’s a rule when I’m racing, I can never look behind me, that’s not allowed.”
Had she looked back, Kramer would have seen nothing but empty space. She finished 51.7 seconds ahead of Witter and 54.7 seconds ahead of third-place Garvee Tobin of Service.
Back in the chase pack, Proffitt said the race had plenty of excitement. She said Witter and Tobin fell at one point, at which point Tobin leaped up and urged her teammate on.
“They’re fighting for the first-place team and she was like, ‘Tatum, we’ve gotta go! And then they picked it up and dropped us. It was honestly just a really interesting race,” Proffitt said.
The races were held in snowy conditions and temperatures just below freezing that made waxing a challenge. The Fairbanks-raised Kramer credited her coaches with adapting to the tricky conditions.
“Usually when it’s snowing like this in Fairbanks it’s really slow snow and so this was interesting,” she said. “Our coaches never have to wax for this so I’m really glad they pulled it through and gave us some good skis.”
Kramer is the third girl in 40 years to win three or more Skimeister awards, and she’s the second from West Valley. Hannah Boyer won three straight for the Wolf Pack from 2010-12, and Tara Hamilton won four straight for Service from 1998-2001. Hamilton’s reign came when her biggest rival was East’s Kikkan Randall, who skied to an Olympic gold medal in 2018.
Kramer said she’s proud of being crowned the best high school skier in Alaska, where the field includes some of the country’s top young racers. Five Alaskans, including Kramer, are members of the U.S. team that will compete in the upcoming World Junior Championships in Germany.
“All of the girls are really capable of being good at the national level, so I think it says a lot what place you are at the Alaska state championships,” she said. “… On the boys side if you’re winning Alaska state championships that means you’re going to be top in the nation.”
Maurer, a Service High junior, had a 14.8 second lead over West Valley’s Eric Difolco and more than 30 seconds over Chugiak’s Earnhart after Thursday’s race. Midway through Friday’s competition it became apparent the Skimeister crown was his to lose as both Difolco and Earnhart slipped off the lead pace.
“Around the start of the last 5K I started going a little harder just to make space between me and the other skiers,” Maurer said.
By the big climb on the Lekisch Loop, only Service’s Joel Power and Dimond’s Peter Hinds were hanging with Maurer. By the top of the hill, Maurer was alone.
He went on to finish seven seconds ahead of Power and 11 seconds ahead of Hinds. Earnhart was fourth and moved up to second in the overall Skimeister standings, while Hinds finished third in the overall standings.
“I started pushing way harder on Lekisch and that’s where I gapped them a little bit,” said Maurer, who placed fifth in the Skimeister standings last year.
Winning one of the most coveted titles in Alaska cross-country skiing was a thrill, he said — especially with state back at Kincaid for the first time since 2016.
“It’s pretty awesome, it’s been a dream of mine for a couple years now and it’s definitely a cool feeling to do that on my home turf,” he said.
The Service boys have claimed four of the last five Skimeister titles. Gus Schumacher won the crown in 2018 and 2017 and Canyon Tobin won it in 2016.
Service’s big day put the Cougars in position to sweep the team titles Saturday, when the meet wraps up with relay races. The Service boys and girls both lead West Valley by more than three minutes. The Chugiak boys are in third place and the Eagle River boys are 14th while the Chugiak girls are in fourth and the Eagle River girls are in 7th.
Eagle River’s Emily Walsh was thrilled after finishing sixth Friday to move up to ninth place in the overall Skiimeister standings — which the junior said was her goal coming into the race. Walsh said she closely eyed the skiers ahead of her in the standings and picked them off one by one.
“Usually everyone likes to go out hard, but I did that yesterday and it did not go well for me so I tried to not go too hard,” she said. “I just hung onto everyone I was planning on beating and then waited until they slowed down a little bit.”
Wolves coach Liz Turner said she was pleased with her team’s effort. Classic technique isn’t her team’s strength, but Turner said the squad pulled through despite the challenging conditions.
“I’m proud of all my athletes,” she said.
Eagle River’s Claire Nelson was 27th in the girls Skimeister standings.
The Wolves’ Alex Carl was the top boys finisher Friday in 22nd. Carl moved up from 47th place Thursday to finish 28th in the Skimeister standings.
The meet concludes Saturday with mixed technique relay races.
For complete results visit anchoragenordicski.com
Boys State Skimeisters
Year Skier Team
2020 — Alexander Maurer Service
2019 — Zanden McMullen South
2018 — Gus Schumacher Service
2017 — Gus Schumacher Service
2016 — Canyon Tobin Service
2015 — Max Donaldson West Valley
2014 — Max Donaldson West Valley
2013 — Max Donaldson West Valley
2012 — Isaac Lammers Chugiak
2011 — Logan Hanneman West Valley
2010 — Scott Patterson South
2009 — Scott Patterson South
2008 — Scott Patterson South
2007 — Patrick Johnson Service
2006 — Patrick Johnson Service
2005 — Mike Hinckley Service
2004 — Mike Hinckley Service
2003 — Justin Singleton Chugiak
2002 — Justin Singleton Chugiak
2001 — Zach Hill Service
2000 — Eric Strabel Colony
1999 — Eric Strabel Colony
1998 — Eric Strabel Colony
1997 — Rob Whitney Service
1996 — Rob Whitney Service
1995 — Jeremy Teela Service
1994 — Peter Oswald Service
1993 — Paul Stone West
1992 — Todd Montalbo Dimond
1991 — Todd Montalbo Dimond
1990 — Doug Spurr West
1989 — Jim Oksoktarok West
1988 — Craig Hartman Dimond
1987 — Tim Schrage Dimond
1986 — Doug Wester Chugiak
1985 — Tony Slaton West
1984 — Steve Wight Dimond
1983 — Garnet Morrow Dimond
1982 — Andy White West Valley
1981 — Ian White West Valley
1980 — K. Brownsberger East
Year Skier Team
2020 — Kendall Kramer West Valley
2019 — Kendall Kramer West Valley
2018 — Kendall Kranmer West Valley
2017 — Molly Gellert West
2016 — Magdalen York West
2015 — Lydia Blanchet West
2014 — Sarissa Lammers Chugiak
2013 — Lydia Blanchet West
2012 — Hannah Boyer West Valley
2011 — Hannah Boyer West Valley
2010 — Hannah Boyer West Valley
2009 — Kinsey Loan Chugiak
2008 — Jaime Bronga East
2007 — Caitlin Patterson South
2006 — Amy Glen West
2005 — Fiona Worcester West
2004 — Katie Ronsse Service
2003 — Paige Brady Service
2002 — Paige Brady Service
2001 — Tara Hamilton Service
2000 — Tara Hamilton Service
1999 — Tara Hamilton Service
1998 — Tara Hamilton Service
1997 — Kate Pearson Lathrop
1996 — Kate Pearson Lathrop
1995 — Hailey Wappet Lathrop
1994 — Teresa Hunt Service
1993 — Amy Crawford Service
1992 — Aelin Peterson West Valley
1991 — Aelin Peterson West Valley
1990 — Denali Kemppel West
1989 — Gretchen Pfister Dimond
1988 — D’Anna Dorris West
1987 — D’Anna Dorris West
1986 — Nina Kemppel West
1985 — Nina Kemppel West
1984 — Lanny Montague Dimond
1983 — Val Davidson Eielson
1982 — Mara Rabinowitz West Valley
1981 — Mara Rabinowitz West Valley
1980 — Ester Clark Dimond