Race News

Skiers Triumph Over Pandemic Woes During Denali State Bank ‘Virtual’ Sonot Kkaazoot

The Denali State Bank “Virtual” Sonot Kkaazoot wrapped up on Saturday with several people taking advantage of beautiful, sunny skies and freshly groomed trails to contribute their entries or add new ones.

The coronavirus pandemic naturally threw another wrench in the works, but the ski community persevered! The wrench this time was a new, stricter “social distancing” order from Gov. Mike Dunleavy, which resulted in the Warming Hut at Birch Hill Recreation Area being closed at the last minute. (The borough thoughtfully placed a port-a-potty in the parking lot.)

Despite that, many skiers were out on the trails at Birch Hill. (And hopefully were all following the social distancing rules.)


The current “race” standings show a total of nearly 90 entries: nine for the 50k, 12 for the 40k, 41 for the 20k, and 24 in the category of “Creative route, creative distance, creative team,” which were all over the place (literally!). We have not yet tallied the number of skiers participating, as the entries include people who participated more than once and we expect to get a few more submissions. And while this might be cliché, it’s worth repeating that anyone who participated is a winner! Check out all the standings here.


You can read the stories of “virtual” Sonot entries on the Sonot website (scroll down). You can also access them through links in the standings. Some are “just the facts” entries, while others are quite creative. Many have photos and/or screen shots from GPS units or software. Some people also put entries in our Facebook Event, though those should all be recorded on the Sonot website also. A lot of people overcame significant difficulties in their efforts, so special kudos to them. All the stories and efforts truly make this a Sonot like no other!


The 2020 Sonot Kkaazoot posters, made by Mark Ross, were originally available inside the Warming Hut at Birch Hill, but after that was closed the posters were placed on the outside bench of the hut. If you would like one (and if there are still some available), Mark asks that you make a donation of any size to the Birch Hill Trail Fund. You can put checks or cash in the Iron Ranger at the bottom of the stairs to the Stadium. Or you can donate online here. Please note “2020 Sonot Poster” if possible.



Lots and lots of thank yous are needed to thank everyone who helped make this “virtual” event happen. Sonot website manager and blogger Susan Sugai (thanks Susan) had one post thanking the many people involved. Read it here. Race Director Bad Bob Baker (thanks Bob) wrote up his own thank you note, too. Here it is:

As the Sonot Kkaazoot race director, I’d like to thank everyone who participated in the VIRTUAL SONOT KKAAZOOT. Even though it was a cancelled event, I feel that it ended up not really being cancelled at all. It’s been really fun and exciting seeing all the unique and fun stories that arose from this crazy race, as well as the diverse group of people who chimed in. I have no doubt that there where many out there that participated, but did not make it public, and that’s just fine. 

This year’s circumstances leading up to this so-called cancellation, tell me that even the coronavirus could not keep the SONOT KKAAZOOT from happening! Thanks to ALL of you out there. Way to ski! 

I would like to send out a very special THANK YOU to Susan Sugai and Eric Troyer, for putting in all the time and efforts in getting these wonderful stories onto the website. They both did a lot more than just the stories and results, like getting all the announcements and updates to all of you and keeping track of all the goings on before, during and after the event. There is so much info in the SONOT KKAAZOOT website that is informative, interesting, and just fun exciting reading. I don’t know of any other race website that even comes close to doing what our SONOT site does.  SO, great job, and THANK YOU again Susan and Eric, along with all the others that put in the time and efforts this year…WAY TO GO!

There is still time to get your results/stories/photos in!


Bad BOB…Sonot Kkaazoot race director….

Denali State Bank ‘Virtual’ Sonot to conclude Saturday!

Tomorrow is the final day of the Denali State Bank ‘Virtual’ Sonot Kkaazoot!

We’ve had more than 60 entries so far. Check them out on the Sonot blog and in the ongoing results (links below). Anyone who has not participated has until tomorrow to complete their “own private Sonot,” as described by one of our skiers. Enjoy yourself out on the trails and say hi to others, just remember to stay at least six feet away. (Shake hands with the tips of your poles!)

If you’ve done a version of the “virtual” Sonot and want to do another, that’s allowed! Just about everything is allowed with this Sonot. (Check out the “Creative route, creative distance, creative team” section of the standings.) People can register on the Sonot website or just make a donation to the trail fund. If funds are tight for you right now and you can’t afford to register or make a donation, no worries. We’ll still count you! What’s most important right now is that you are getting out on skis and enjoying our incredible outdoors.

Thank you to everyone who has participated so far! And thank you to our cadre of incredible groomers who have been keeping the trails in great shape despite a couple of over-exuberant dumps of the wonderful fluffy stuff.

And thank you to everyone who has been able to donate to the Birch Hill Trail Fund to keep up the grooming! We know times are tough right now, so every donation is greatly appreciated. (And we totally understand if you want to donate now but can’t afford to until things are better.)

Another way to help out is to “buy” one of Mark Ross’s Sonot posters for whatever sized donation you want to make. The posters are available in the Warming Hut at Birch Hill. The come in orange or black. Either make your poster donations on the Birch Hill Trail donations site (link below) or put cash or a check in the Iron Ranger at the bottom of the stairs to the Stadium at Birch Hill. Please note “Sonot Poster” so we can track those donations. One per person.

If you do finish your Sonot on Saturday but are too tired to write up and send in your report until Sunday or Monday, no worries! Send them to fbxskierparent (at) gmail.com or contact (at) sonotkkaazoot.org or add a post to our Facebook Event. We’ll add entries for a couple of days after the event.

Sonot website and race registration (scroll down for the blog)

Ongoing results

Original NSCF post explaining the “rules”

Birch Hill Trail Fund donations



Chena River is No Longer Safe for Grooming or Skiing, but the ‘Virtual’ Sonot Continues!

All right, all you dedicated skiers! The Chena River and the weather are piling chaos on top of chaos. But we will not be defeated! (See Bad Bob’s report, link below.)

Anyone wanting to compete in the 2020 Denali State Bank Virtual Sonot Kkaazoot can still do so. Ski trails at Birch Hill Recreation Area until you reach 20, 40, or 50 km (or any other distance). Send us a screen shot of the display from your GPS route, date, and time to us at: fbxskierparent@gmail.com or contact@sonotkkaazoot.org. We’ll post the virtual 33rd Sonot Kkaazoot times for all three distances. If you ski low tech, send us your time, date, and detailed course description. The main goal is to get out and ski while we can. Ski on!

You can also post your personal Sonot report on the Sonot Facebook Event:

Bad Bob’s Report on the Chena


2020 Denali State Bank “Virtual” Sonot Kkaazoot Standings (so far)

It’s great seeing how many people are participating in the 2020 Denali State Bank “Virtual” Sonot Kkaazoot! You can read reports and see photos on the Sonot Kkaazoot blog (scroll down) and the “Virtual” Sonot Facebook Event.

Since this is a “race,” we decided to keep a running tally (below). Seems like most people are keeping this “race” pretty casual, which seems just right given the circumstances. Congratulations to everyone who is getting out skiing!

Are the standings wrong? Please send corrections to fbxskierparent (at) gmail.com.

If you’ve done the event and haven’t told us yet, please post on our Facebook Event or send an email to fbxskierparent (at) gmail.com. (Links on names go to Sonot website posts.)

50K Standings

Current place


Total Time or undefined (hrs, min, sec)

Moving Time (hrs, min, sec)


1 Shalane Frost 3:35:31 3:19:11 Five times around the White Bear gerbil loop. Creative route.
2 Sven Grage 4:26:41 Creative route. Great trails, windy conditions.
3 Byron Broda 4:33:47 First 50K finisher! Traditional route. First bilaterally bionic kneed skier to complete the virtual Sonot 50k!
 4 Bill Husby 4:48:34 Creative route. Second bilaterally bionic kneed skier to complete the virtual Sonot 50k! First person to complete two versions of the Virtual Sonot: 20k and 50K! (Finally finished 40k = Grand Slam)
5, 6, 7 Bad Bob and Sharon Baker, and Donna DiFolco 4:54:24 Creative route in a snowstorm. Bob wanted to quit at 40k but was outvoted. Sharon skied another mile to “satisfy” her Garmin.
8 Colleen Personett 5:20:00 Creative route. Low tech, nothing but her word, which is good enough for us!
9 Eric Troyer 6:16:59 5:32:25 Skied classic style (with skate poles). Coyote sighting! Traditional route.
10 Susan Sugai 9:26:39 Creative route. The Sonot Kkaazoot blogger did her race in installments of 10k and then 20k and then two of 12k for a total of 54k. So, she’s an overachiever! The streak continues!
11 Ken Leary ??? Ken skied 62 kilometers between March 24-26, giving him an “official” finish in this year’s Sonot. He and Susan Sugai are the only two people to have done every Sonot Kkaazoot! Read about Ken in the March edition of the Alaska Nordic Skier (page 14).


40K Standings

Current place Name Total Time or undefined (hrs, min, sec) Moving Time (hrs, min, sec) Notes
1 Donovan Granger 3:31:56 Creative route: In two installments and with “moral support and company from Patrick Druckenmiller.”
2 Bruce Jamieson 3:33:02 First 40K finisher! And he’s planning to do the 50K next week! Traditional route.
3 Laura Grage 3:40:37 Creative route. Great trails, windy conditions.
4 Bill Husby 3:49:56 Finishes a Virtual Sonot Grand Slam: 50k, 40k, 20k. One of our NSCF groomer/heroes.
5 Eric Buetow 4:10:00 SCUM-ish and leisurely. Creative route. Also did 20k earlier.
6 Raena Rowland 4:14:23 40k on the three installment plan
7 Jerome Jackson 4:52:00 Creative route: 3 White Bears plus misc trails. 30k pushing skate skis thru powder, then 10k of double pole (broken binding)
8, 9, 10 Donna DiFolco, Bad Bob and Sharon Baker 5 hours flat Creative route included Moose Mountain and hiking up the Sonot Connector. Bob and Sharon complete the Virtual Sonot Grand Slam: 50k, 40k, and 20k.
11 Mark Billingsley A little over 5 hours Creative route. Might have been a bit more than 40k. Classic style
12 Joanna Fox 6:21:22 Creative route. After doing a skate/classic 20k, Joanna added even more k’s. In fact, she actually did just under 42k.

20K Standings

Current place Name Total Time or undefined (hrs, min, sec) Moving Time (hrs, min, sec) Notes
1 Mark Ross 1:11:40 Artist of the 2020 Sonot Kkaazoot poster, now available on the outside bench of the Birch Hill Warming Hut for donation of whatever (online or in the Iron Ranger at bottom of stairs). Creative route.
2 Jim Gower 1:17:11 Missed the turnaround (but still finished)! Mostly traditional route.
3 Bill (Poles) Husby 1:26.13 Traditional route.
4 Anna Rix 1:34:14 Creative route
5, 6 Kieran (12) and Max Kaufman 1:35:00 Traditional route.
7 Mark Winford (50) 1:35:22 Incredibly beautiful, sunny day. Creative route.
8, 9 Bad Bob and Sharon Baker 1:38:27 First overall finishers! Traditional route.
 10 Brandy Johnson 1:52:14 Also skied the Chena River 20k in early March!
11 Christi Eickholt 2:11:15 “no coronavirus or thoughts of it for two hours” Traditional route.
12, 13 Dave Prusak and Eric Buetow 2:14:06 Dave skied with one pole (shoulder surgery). Coyote sighting! Traditional route.
14, 15 Lilli Bond (10) and Steffi Ickert-Bond (53)  2:16:00


Creative route: From Cushman St. Bridge up to Birch Hill Stadium (incl South Tower!)
16 Corrine Leistikow 2:17:02 2:10:58 Leisurely 20k.
17 Richard Bond (57) 2:27:00 And then picked up Lilli and Steffi. Traditional route.
18, 19 Julie Esdale and Jen Humphrey 2:30:00 Creative route. Julie wore a crown from her Oosik costume.
20 Lisa Stuby 2:30:00 (or so) Creative route: Cold toes and cranky GPS watch, but finished this time after her platform snowshoes attempt earlier.
20, 21 Don and Tracie Pendergrast 2:32:30 Traditional route.
22 Kieran and Max Kaufman, Scott and John Tragis 2:38:02 Creative route. “Our FXC skiers keep their fathers active.”
23 Maria Taylor 3:00:28 Skied mostly with family; had lots of tasty snacks. Creative route.
24, 25 Diane O’Brien and Owen (12) Wooller 3:07:11 2:17:37 Creative route. A family race that included a Girl Scout cookie break.
26, 27 Phoebe (10) and Mat Wooller 3:22:00  Creative route. A family race. “Phoebe, at < 60 lbs and the least confident of her ability to ski 20 km, probably looked the freshest of all of us.”
28 Robert Toth 3:39:00 After a moose encounter causes a crash, Robert finishes anyway. Creative route. Determined to get a 50k in, Bob did another 30k on Monday after recovering from lots of lots of home snow clearing.
29, 30, 31, 32 Cara (9) and Emmett (12) Schneider, Lily (14) and Carol (62) Hsieh 3:45:00 Creative route.
33, 34 Kelly Hill Scanlon with Ruby and Beastie No time Traditional route.
35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41 Chris Broda, Johnna and Jon Underwood, Callie and David Underwood, Karin Gillis, Nancy Hanneman No time This group skied the 1993 and 1994 traditional route, when the race started and ended at the Steese Highway instead of Cushman Street.

Creative route, creative distance, creative team

Distance Name Total Time or undefined (hrs, min, sec) Moving Time (hrs, min, sec) Notes
100k Sam Delamere and Ti Donaldson 8:47:03 7:41:57 Creative “Tour de Fairbanks” route including Birch Hill, Creamer’s refuge, and UAF. Classic technique. 30k of no-kick double-poling at end.
80k Anna Rix 8:53:39 During Virtual Sonot did 118k total at Birch Hill (including her 20k) over 12hrs, 20min. Also did 86k at UAF.
60k Carl Hemming 6:57:38  After doing the Traditional 20k route in 1:47:38, Carl added two 20k efforts (one in tough conditions) on Creative routes.
54k Greg Kahoe ??? One leg (of his effort) was a bit late, but he finished with all his organs intact and in place.
40k + Peter Delamere 4 hrs or so Skied UAF to Birch Hill with a few more k’s at Birch. Wishes for an overpass at Steese and Farmer’s Loop.
40k Shalane Frost 3:38:00 Tanana River and Rosie Creek forest? Sure, we’ll include that.
30k + Frank Soos A lot Did the Grand Tour of Birch Hill
50k relay? Susan Sugai, Norma Haubenstock, Joanna Fox A lot Fairbanks Master Swimmers go “swimming” in the snow with skis!
About 30k Jon Denton 2:51:00 His skis sounded like a rocket ship and he “med evac’ed out,’ but fortunately he was talking about the trail.
27k Hannah Delamere and Hjelle Personius ??? Skied UAF to Birch Hill. Declined to join Hannah’s father for a few more k at Birch Hill.
27k Pat Reinhard, Mike Schmoker, Dave Prusak ??? SCUM-ish pace. Creative route.
26.6k Max Kaufman, Owen W. Hanley, Steve Taylor, and Erik Schoen 01:59:00 Steve actually did about 20k, Owen did extra k’s for good measure.
25-27k? J.J. Frost 2:15:00 (or so) Birch Hill portion of 50k except Sonot Connector (phone froze, so no exact documentation)
20-25k Forest Wagner 3:02:00 (or so) Thought of skiing the White Bear a couple more times, but nah. Creative route.
17k Elizabeth Allman Does it matter? Despite all sorts of obstacles (including not being able to get to Birch Hill) Elizabeth devised her “own private Sonot” on unplowed subdivision roads. She still plans to finish the last three k!
16k Lisa Stuby 3:16:04 Moose barring the trail did not stop Lisa, but a case of platform snowshoes cut her 20k attempt short.




Denali State Bank Sonot Kkaazoot Goes ‘Virtual’

(See “race” standings here.)

The Denali State Bank Sonot Kkaazoot has begun! No, you didn’t have the date wrong on your calendar. This year’s race will be a “virtual” race due to the COVID-19 situation.

The scheduled race was cancelled because of social distancing restrictions. But Race Director Bad Bob Baker has been grooming the Chena River course up to where it meets the Birch Hill trails. And, of course, the NSCF grooming crew has been keeping the Birch Hill trails in outstanding condition. So, the course is ready! Get out there and ski!

How long do you have to do it? Well, Bob was heading out earlier today (Wednesday, March 18) to groom the Chena River. He plans to groom early on both Saturday and Sunday (March 21 and 22). Grooming after this weekend all depends upon Mother Nature. Once Bob deems the river to be ungroomable, then the Denali State Bank Virtual Sonot Kkaazoot will be over. Bob, who has 33 years of experience grooming the Chena River, warns that the course on the Chena River may NOT be safe if you wait until Saturday, March 28, so get out there as soon as you can!

(Update March 20: The Chena River deteriorated quickly, so now we’re holding the “virtual” race entirely up at Birch Hill. So, make up your own course of 20, 40 or 50 kilometers. Or do something go longer or shorter or something in between. Heck, you an even break down your race into different legs on different days! Just follow the rules below and let us know what you did and how you did it! The most important things are to be flexible, understanding, enthusiastic, and skiing!)

How it works.

  • Make sure to carry government identification whenever you go on Fort Wainwright property, this includes where the Sonot trail goes through it. (Fort officials have approved the “virtual” Sonot!)
  • Ski one or more of the three courses (20km, 40km, or 50km).
    • Everything is legal in this year’s virtual Sonot Kkaazoot. Any course goes as long as it’s recorded and reported before Bad Bob ends the competition. The idea is to safely get out and work off some anxiety and stress that we’re all feeling during the COVID-19 pandemic. We’re aiming for the most km skied by this community during this year’s virtual Sonot Kkaazoot.
  • Send us proof! (send emails to fbxskierparent@gmail.com or contact@sonotkkaazoot)
    • If you have a GPS device, send a screen shot or photo from your display that shows the route, date, and your time on the course.
    • If you are going old school, jot down the date, your time on the course, and a description of where you skied.
    • Add a post to our NSCF Facebook page Event.

Now which way do I go?

The course will not be marked. Sonot veterans will probably know the way. But for those who weren’t paying attention (because, heck, the course was marked), we have basic descriptions of the three courses on the Sonot Kkaazoot website. We also have a rudimentary map you can download here. And we have nifty maps of the Birch Hill trails here.

If you are new to the race, the 20k is pretty straightforward. Start at the Cushman Street Bridge in Fairbanks. Head up the Chena River and after about 10k follow the trail into the woods. Just before the road crossing, turn left and loop back around to the river and then back to town. The 40k and 50k races are a bit trickier, especially with the addition of trails over the years (South Tower, Sunnyside, etc.). Either try your best from the descriptions and map or find someone who has a GPS track of it.

Going the extra miles

If you want an even bigger challenge, we’ve created something we call the “Virtual White Mountains 100” in honor of our friends who had to cancel the White Mountains 100. Ours is a bit easier at 127 kilometers (about 79 miles) instead of 100 miles, but we aren’t going to stop you from adding those miles by doing some trails twice. Here’s how you do our VWM100: ski all Sonot courses + all classical-only trails + Sunny/Cliffside. Easy peasy! (Sorry fatbikers, snowrunners, unicyclists, and kicksledders, only skiers on the Birch Hill trails.)


The most important thing is to just get outside during these unsettling times and get some outdoor exercise! So, if you go out and ski and you get all mixed up on the trails, let us know! We’ll be happy to celebrate that, too! We might even create a new category for most creative lost skier!


No, of course not. Given the current restrictions, the awards ceremony for the Denali State Bank Virtual Sonot Kkaazoot will not be held. But, please, raise a glass and toast everyone willing to get outside and ski at least some portion of the course!




NSCF Events, Classes Cancelled Due to COVID-19

Dear NSCF Members and Event Participants,

With the confirmation of COVID-19 in Alaska, prevention of further spread is paramount. In an effort to do everything we can to help keep our community safe and help slow the spread of the coronavirus, the NSCF board and staff have decided to cancel the Spring session of Junior Nordics, the Interior Youth Festival, the 2020 Ski for Women, the Sonot Kkaazoot, and all other club-related activities and practices through March 31.

We thank you for your continued patience as we navigate the uncharted territory of the COVID-19 outbreak. We had hoped that the spread of the virus might abate, but clearly it has not. The World Health Organization has officially characterized COVID-19 as a pandemic. Gov. Dunleavy has declared a public health emergency and the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District and University of Alaska have cancelled classes next week.

Please know we did not make this decision lightly. NSCF Staff, volunteers and community sponsors, worked diligently to put together these programs. We know that many of you were looking forward to these events. But, in the end, the health of our members, patrons, staff, and volunteers, as well as our obligation to public health more generally, has to take precedence.

What you need to know:

  1. The Junior Nordics Spring Session, Interior Youth Festival and Ski for Women are cancelled and will not be rescheduled for the 2019-2020 season. The cancellation of these events comes with financial repercussions for our organization. To help us mitigate the costs, we ask those of you who are financially able to donate your registration fee to the NSCF trail fund, which, unless we hear from you, will happen automatically. If that’s not possible, we will of course refund the fee. To request a refund, please email Rebecca Heaton (membership@nscfairbanks.org) before March 25.  Given the small staff at NSCF, we ask for your patience as we address refunds and notifications. We will work as quickly as we can to address any issues that arise.
  2. The Sonot Kkaazoot is cancelled; entry fees will not be refunded, but will be used to defray the sunk costs of the race (grooming to date, bibs, awards, honoraria for the schools responsible for the aid stations, etc.). Race Director Bob Baker is working on a virtual Sonot; if Ft. Wainwright consents and the river remains safe so that Bob can continue to groom, the virtual Sonot will include the original courses. You can anticipate updates from Bob as he works out the plan.
  3. While FXC practices will not be held, coaches will provide tailored training plans for the FXC athletes for the remainder of the season and work with them remotely on the execution and modification of the plans as needed.

We greatly appreciate your understanding while we work to make these cancellations as smooth as possible for NSCF members and participants.

While we feel it necessary to cancel our events, we encourage you to get outside anyway. There is no reason why you can’t enjoy the best skiing of the year on some of the best trails in the country. So, wash your hands, then get outside and share a selfie on social media to encourage other healthy individuals to get outside and ski!

Thank you again for your support and patience.


The Nordic Ski Club of Fairbanks Board and Staff

Extended Play-by-Play of Historic US Junior Relay Team Medal Performances

Below is a dispatch from our “European correspondent,” John Estle. Photos at the end. (And here is a US Ski and Snowboard report with video highlights. Look carefully in the bottom group photo of women’s team and you might see some familiar Fairbanks faces!)

JWC Relay, Part 2

Rain overnight turning to heavy, wet snow in the AM.  Light snow was falling throughout the women’s race, but turned into heavy snow just before, and during the classic legs of the men’s race before tapering off again. Temperature was comfortably above freezing (but still it was snowing); water was dripping off the tips of the boughs on the spruce trees.  A fun day for the wax techs.

For the women’s classic legs both hairies/zeroes and wax were options.  I believe the US chose wax for the women.  We did not see much slipping in the women’s race, but we didn’t watch a lot of downhills, so don’t know if there were any speed differentials. It didn’t appear that anyone had crazy-good or crazy-bad skis for the skate legs.

In the guys race Luke and Ben made a last minute-decision to go with hairies/zeroes.  With the heavy falling wet snow lasting throughout the classic legs, it was a wise decision, although at the moment it was a “I’m putting it all on the red number” risk.  Luke had a lead after 200m and said he just decided at that moment to punch it and see what happened.  He said his skis were extremely good, and very fast.  Ben’s skis looked good, too.

Jury Decisions
I don’t know exactly what the process was for evidence being presented to the Jury regarding the course-cutting – I don’t know if it was from video evidence or observation.  Novie McCabe said that during the race someone hollered at her that the Germans (who were ahead of her) were going to be disqualified.  So . . . . some coaches must have observed the course-cutting.

After the race when the American fans made it back to the finish, the word (rumors) started that the US, after being fourth across the line, was going to win a silver medal.  The three teams that assembled for the awards were Switzerland, USA and Sweden, which was confirmation of the adjusted result.

However, the rules are the rules, and the protest period had to pass, and protests allowed to be made (I will try to find out if Poland and Germany protested), so more than an hour passed between when the Swiss finished and the flower ceremony.  When we first got back to the finish area, there were lots of Poles and Germans there with cameras to take photos of their medal-winning teams.  However, as the word got around, they gradually melted out of the crowd and headed for the bratwurst kiosk for some comfort food.

Women’s Race Course Problems and Disqualifications Here’s the scoop on the course-cutting.  My description is based upon conversations with a coach who inspected the course prior to the race. Because the courses used for many of the races were different from the courses that the organizers planned to use, I do not have access to maps of both the boys and the girls skate courses – only the girls’ course.

Based on that map alone, it is impossible to tell exactly where the German and Polish skiers cut the course.  So, I believe my description is accurate, but it may be wrong in a few small details.  In general, I think it gives an accurate description of what happened.  This description is a little different from what I sent out earlier.

The boys raced on 2.5Km loops and the women on 3.3Km loops.  Women went first.

On the skate course, in the first 500m or so, the 2.5K went to the right (shorter) and the 3.3Km went to the left.  It sounds like it was more like a narrow V-fork in the trail, rather than a major turn.

The women’s 3.3Km skate and classic courses started out the same for the first Km or so, so the women’s course had two classic tracks separated from the skate platform by greens at pretty frequent intervals.  The men’s 2.5Km classic course did not cover that same section – only the men’s skate course started out the same way as the women’s courses (classic and skate).

Where the trails divided, I have been told that the 2.5Km course was not blocked off by v-board or other barriers.  As I said, it was NOT a sharp turn, and without the barriers, going the wrong way was made a bit too easy to do – although 36 women skied through that intersection, and 33 of them went the right way.

On the third leg, the German skier took the 2.5Km skate course – no tracks or greens on the 2.5Km because it was a skate-only course for the guys, but she went that way anyway.  Her time for the leg was 28.1 seconds faster than was Switzerland’s 3rd leg skier, who had the fastest 3rd leg time for the 3.3Km course.

The effect of the German taking the cutoff was to put Germany into 2nd place, 12 seconds behind Switzerland, and four seconds in front of Poland.

What made things REALLY CONFUSING for US fans standing at 800-900m along the course was the Sophia Laukli had started the leg 15 seconds behind Poland and 24 seconds ahead of the German.  But when the German came by she was in the vicinity of Poland and comfortably (several seconds) ahead of Laukli – BUT SHE NEVER PASSED LAUKLI.  So, in less than 1Km, the German had made up approximately 30-40 seconds on Laukli.  WTF????  We could not figure out what had happened.

After the third leg, the Swiss led at 27:03, followed by
Germany 27:15
Poland 27:19
US   27:31
Sweden  27:37
Germany had gained 28 seconds on the Swiss, 31 seconds in the US, 43 seconds on Poland, and 42 seconds on Sweden.  Go figure.

On the anchor leg, I believe that the Swiss skier was out of sight of the German, so the 4th German took the same cutoff as the 3rd German.  Izabela Marcisz was Poland’s anchor, and had her head down chasing the German.  She just followed the German anchor right down the rabbit hole.

Having been 16 seconds down to Germany and 12 seconds down to Poland at the final exchange, the US fans at 800m-900m on the course had another WTF moment when Germany and Poland came by in 1st and 2nd place, and were now 40+ seconds up on Novie McCabe, the US anchor.

Not to mention that they were ahead of Switzerland’s anchor, whom they had never passed.

Needless to say the Swiss, American and Swedish anchors were a bit confused by the order of the skiers.

Luckily the Swiss, American and Swedish anchors didn’t let the confusion get to them, and they skied hard all the way to the finish, and were rewarded with gold, silver and bronze despite being the 3rd, 4th and 5th teams to cross the line.

Marcisz may have been able to pull out the win had she skied the entire course – she was 2nd in both distance races, I believe.  She came in 47 seconds clear of Switzerland, and it would be hard to argue that she cut off 47 seconds by shortening the course.  However, she did what she did, and violated the rules.

Novie McCabe was gaining on the Swiss anchor the whole way, taking 23 seconds back from Switzerland to bring the US within 4.9 seconds while simultaneously holding off a charging Swedish team with a gutsy run up the final climb.

The Germans, had they skied the whole course, probably would have been fighting with the Swedes for 4th and 5th, although I might be a bit generous in that assessment.  There is a pretty high likelihood that they would have finished in front of Italy and Russia, but, for sure, they would have been out of the medals.

I am confident that the US would have ended up with a medal had all the skiers skied the full course.  They skied that well.

The real shame is that the fans and the sport missed out on what would have been an unbelievably exciting final leg, with 5 teams in the mix, and lots of opportunities to change positions.

But we’ll take the silver and be happy!

One of the best things about the win was that ALL the US women skied really solid legs.  All contributed equally to the win.

In the guys’ race, the US also had four strong legs.

Luke Jager set the tone by demolishing the field on the first leg, getting a 25-second gap over a pack of 6 skiers, led by Germany.  Ben Ogden went out pretty hot (his own post-race assessment) and pushed the lead up to almost a minute before coming back to earth and tagging off to Johnny Hagenbuch with 31 seconds in hand, adding 6 seconds to Jager’s margin, with Italy in 2nd place leading a pack of 6 (Italy, Canada, Switzerland, France, Norway, Russia).  Ogden was 2nd-fastest on the 2nd leg, behind only Davide Graz of Italy, who had won an individual distance medal earlier in the week.

Hagenbuch also increased the margin, increasing the US lead to 33 seconds, with the Swiss in 2nd place, as Russia dropped off the chase group, but the other teams (ITA, CAN, SUI, FRA, NOR) remained together.  Hagenbuch was 4th-fastest on the third leg, but only 2.5 seconds behind the fastest skier.

Gus Schumacher was third fastest on the anchor leg only 6 seconds behind Moch of Germany.  However he was carrying a large flag for the final 200m+ and not able to use his poles, so he almost certainly would have had the fastest third leg had he been able to ski all the way in. Even so, he increased the margin over 2nd place from 33 seconds to 35.5 seconds, this time over Canada.

Drolet of Canada began the anchor leg with that pack of five. Their was a little moving back and forth for position early, but the pace began to take its toll, and soon the chase group was shrinking, shedding one skier after another.

Norway was the first to drop off, then France, then Italy, then Switzerland. Finally, only Switzerland and Canada were alone to compete for the silver medal.  By the time Drolet started up the last climb, he had dropped the Swiss – no one was in sight behind him as he neared the top of the hill.

The Swiss started up the final climb in bronze position, but the Italian was coming on strong and passed the Swiss as they ascended the bridge about 200m from the finish, crossing the line 4.4 seconds clear.

For the US men, it was the third consecutive JWC relay medal: silver in 2018, and gold in ’19 and ’20.  Ogden, Jager and Schumacher each have three JWC relay medals.

For the women, it was the 2nd JWC relay medal performance, after a bronze in 2017 at Soldier Hollow.

The US has now won 5 JWC relay medals in the past 4 JWC.

Also, FIS has a “Mark Hodler Trophy” for JWC – similar to the Nations’ Cup on the World Cup. Norway won the trophy, but the US was second, ahead of Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Poland.

It has been a good week, and tomorrow the US has a shot at a medal in the first-ever U23 mixed relay.  The team will be Kern – Wonders – Fields – Swirbul; CL-CL-FR-FR, each skier goes 5Km.

For a full list of results see Estle’s previous post.


Photos courtesy of John Estle.

(Left to right) Novie McCabe, Kendall Kramer, Sophia Laukli, and Sydney Palmer-Ledger.

(Left to right) Novie McCabe, Sophia Laukli, Sydney Palmer-Ledger and Kendall Kramer.

While they were singing the national anthem. (Left to right) Ben Ogden, Luke Jager, Johnny Hagenbuch, and Gus Schumacher.

North American Men 1-2 On Podium.

Skiers Put on a Ski Cross Show at Final Town Series Race

More than 40 skiers from masters-level down to fifth grade entertained the crowds on Sunday at the Kendall Subaru of Fairbanks Ski-Cross on the Jim Whisenhant Ski Trails at Birch Hill Recreation Area.

Elias Engman takes a jump in style!

The co-ed masters division was clearly the crowd favorite, as skiers ranging from their late 20s to over 60 years old attempted the jumps and gates on a tight course.  Peter Delamere won the men’s masters division. Ben Koenig took second. Hilary Saucy, winner of the women’s division (and only female entrant), placed third overall.  Pat Druckenmiller placed fourth overall and took third for men.

This fourth and final race of the KINROSS Fort Knox Town Race Series was finally held after on Sunday, March 1, after being rescheduled twice due to cold weather. Besides the masters division, the race also included divisions for high school/college ages and skiers in grades 5-8.

Ben Koenig leads Martin Truffer in the masters division.

Ski-cross is a popular spectating event, because it mixes up free technique skiing and agility obstacles, including jumps, tight turns and gates. Masters-level skier Martin Truffer was heard groaning every time he had to duck to pass through a gate to the delight of the spectators.

Though the official high school racing season is over, many high-school-age skiers came out to tackle the course. They were joined by University of Alaska Fairbanks skier Patrick Marbacher, who paced the preliminary and final heats for the overall win. Marbacher was followed by Ben Kassoff in second and Nelson Hays. Hannah Delamere took first place in the high school women’s division followed by Zarah Laker-Morris. Leni Stolz took third.

Zarah Laker-Morris leans into a turn in a high school heat.

In the 5th-8th grade boys division PJ Braggonier took first followed by Wade Harry and then Justin Oestreich. Lilli Bond took first in the 5th-8th grade girls division followed by Emma Lyons in second and Ellie Abrahamson in third.

For more results see 2020-03-01_NSCF_Town Race Series Skicross Results (1).

The Ski-cross course remained in place for the Junior Nordics session so that all the Junior Nordics groups could have a chance at the jumps and gates.  The day concluded with a Junior Nordics coaches’ appreciation barbecue party.

Hilary Saucy lands a jump in a masters heat.

For more information on the KINROSS Fort Knox Town Race Series contact the NSCF race program director at competitionevents@nscfairbanks.org.

KINROSS Fort Knox is in their sixth season as the series sponsor. Kendall Auto of Fairbanks, a 21-year sponsor, is the presenting sponsor for this event. Fairbanks Youth Sports (a 23-year partner) sponsors the first two races in the series, and new sponsor Wedgewood Resort sponsors the third race. The Nordic Ski Club of Fairbanks also receives support from Fairbanks North Star Borough Parks and Recreation and the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District.

Photos from Sundays events graciously offered by Eric Engman (except where noted).

Martin Truffer groans as he ducks to chase Pat Druckenmiller through a gate. (Photo by Chel Ethun.)

Pat Druckenmiller leads Henry Curtis in a masters heat.


Hannah Delamere


Martin Truffer leads Pat Druckenmiller.


Ben Kassoff


Nelson Hays




Skiathon Celebrates Skiing and History This Weekend

Come join the Skiathon this Sunday, March 8, on the University of Alaska Fairbanks trail system!

The 20-kilometer, classic-only Skiathon is a race and a tour. Participants are timed but can go as fast or as slow as they want. There is a wood ski division. All finishers receive a Skiathon patch. Early registration is only $15, but registration forms must be turned in before noon on Saturday, March 7. People can sign up on the day of the race, but late registration fees go up to $40. Pick up and drop off registration forms at Beaver Sports. Forms can also be downloaded (see link below).

Bib pick-up is in the UAF Ski Hut on West Ridge, near the Geophysical Institute. It starts at 10am and the race/tour starts at 11am. (Please remember that March 8 is also Daylight Savings Time!)

For more information or to volunteer contact Stan Justice (479-5017; stanjustice[at]acsalaska.net). For more course maps and registration form see: http://uaftrailsclub.weebly.com/

This joint event of the Nordic Ski Club of Fairbanks and the UAF Trails Club is a fundraiser for the UAF trail system. The original Skiathon followed the Skarland 12-mile trail and was THE big ski event of the spring from 1967 to 1977. Once subdivision roads went in, it became too difficult to shovel snow for road crossings. In 2002, Susan Todd and Stan Justice revived the event but eliminated all the road crossings by using almost all the UAF ski trails.



Delamere Wins the Fourth Wednesday Night Race of 2019-20

Peter Delamere won the fourth race of the Wednesday Night Race series of the winter thanks to a generous volunteer.

Eric Troyer, who took third place in the previous race, took the clipboard and stopwatch for this race so that Delamere, the series director, could ski both laps. (Delamere usually tries to ski one lap of the 2.5-kilometer course, so that he’s at the finish line in time to clock the finishing skiers.)

Delamere skied the 5-kilometer course in 17 minutes, 33 seconds. Patrick Lovely took second in 18:01. Matt Stoller rounded out the podium with a time of 18:33. The lead pack, consisting of these three, held close together on the first lap before they spread out during the second lap.

Anna Rix took fourth and was also the first female finisher with a time of 19:27. Hannah Delamere was the second female and first junior, finishing in 21:34. Corrine Leistikow took the third female spot (and was first in the classic division) with a time of 25:49.

Don Hampton was the sole finisher in the 2.5-kilometer division, finishing in 12:59.

The temperature at race start was 5 degrees F, though the skiers said the snow temperature felt much colder. After the race there was some discussion as to whether there was a certain speed at which skiers could break through to reach better glide. Competitor Martin Truffer pointed out that the summation of this phenomenon by physics professor Delamere was an academically unimpressive: If you go faster, you ski faster.

Official results can be found here.

The next race of the Wednesday Night Race series is set for March 18. People can choose to race one 2.5-kilometer lap or the whole 2-lap, 5-kilometer course.

For more information on the Wednesday Night Race series see (https://www.nscfairbanks.org/programs/races/wednesday-night-races/). The series, sponsored by the Nordic Ski Club of Fairbanks, is an all ages and all abilities series of ski races. These family-friendly events are a great way to get to know your ski club, test your skills on the trails, and have a little fun.

Race day registration is on-site beginning at 5:45pm. Races start at 6:30pm. Fee is $5 for one-time entry or $25 for the season.  Races will be rescheduled if temperatures are -5 F or colder.

Photos from the race by Eric Troyer.

Corrine Leistikow and her silly hat

Hannah Delamere

Don Hampton

Peter Delamere

Matt Stoller

Anna Rix

Martin Truffer

Corrine Leistikow