8:30 a.m. Saturday, Downtown Anchorage

Diesel is in the air at 4th Avenue and Cordova Street, where a front-end loader is dumps loads of snow in the middle of the normally busy intersection. The loader beeps as the driver uses the bucket to sculpt the snow into large steps.

In less than two hours, the sleepy intersection will be the center of the sled dog universe.

Kelsey Griffin’s world tour is returning for a stateside encore.

On Thursday the 2005 Chugiak High grad signed a contract with the Minnesota Lynx of the WNBA, making a return to the U.S.-based women’s professional basketball league for the first time since 2014.

The deal was announced on the Lynx page at Terms were not disclosed.

Chugiak’s Michael Earnhart finished third in the overall boys Skimeister standings to lead all local skiers at the ASAA/First National Bank Alaska State Nordic Ski Championships in Fairbanks.

Earnhart’s performance keyed a third-place team finish by the Mustangs. Teammate Max Beiergrohslein finished 10th in the Skimeister standings, which were based on the combined times from Thursday’s classic technique and Friday’s freestyle races.

The Alaska School Activities Association Appeals Board has denied the appeal of a former Chugiak High basketball coach suspended in December one year for a recruiting violation.

Last to start, first to finish.

The team of Mike Morgan and Chris Olds won the Iron Dog on Saturday morning, becoming the race’s first back-to-back winners since 2013.

Morgan and Olds arrived at the Fairbanks finish line at 10:49 a.m. aboard their Polaris Indy XC 600 snowmachines.

They completed the 1,977-mile race from Deshka Landing to Nome to Fairbanks in 34 hours, 27 minutes, 31 seconds.

About 20 minutes later the Wasilla team of veteran Brad George and rookie Adam Drinkhouse finished in second place.

Eagle River musher Matt Paveglio was the final musher out of the starting chute Friday on the opening day of the 2019 Fur Rondy Open World Championship Sled Dog Race in Anchorage.

Paveglio is the lone local musher in this year’s field.

The annual races are the kick-off to Anchorage’s Fur Rendezvous celebration, which runs through March 3.

Racers in the sled dog race run a 25-mile course through the streets and trails of Anchorage, starting on 4th Avenue downtown. Racing continues at noon on Saturday and Sunday.

Chris Olds is halfway home while Tyson Johnson has some catching up to do.

The Eagle River snowmachine riders were both among the top five teams into Nome in the 2019 Iron Dog snowmachine race Tuesday, with Olds arriving in first place and Johnson less than an hour back in fifth.

Olds and partner Mike Morgan of Anchorage arrived in Nome at 2:49 p.m. Tuesday, almost five minutes ahead of Anchorage’s Casy Boylan and Bryan Leslie in second.

Kelsey Griffin’s legend continues to grow Down Under.

The 2005 Chugiak High grad and former NCAA All-American capped her best season as a professional basketball player Monday by winning the Australian Women’s National Basketball League’s MVP award during a ceremony in Melbourne.

Griffin recently capped her first season in Canberra, where she led the Capitals to a league title on Feb. 16 at the AIS Arena in Canberra.

Six local skaters landed on the Alaska Division I All-State Hockey Team announced last week by the Alaska High School Hockey Coaches Association.

Named to the 25-member squad from the Wolves were forwards Ty McEnaney and Tucker Lien alongside defenseman Logan Dudinsky. Making the team for the Mustangs were defenseman Tyler Huffer and forwards Luke Momblow and Grant Epple.

Gatorade has confirmed what everyone in Alaska aleady knew: Daniel Bausch is the best boys distance runner in the state.

The sports drink company named the Chugiak High senior its Alaska Boys Cross Country Athlete of the Year in a press release issued Monday.

“He’s overcome a lot in his life and has really been able to flourish this year,” Chugiak coach Melissa Hall said in the release.