With the 33rd annual Denali State Bank Sonot Kkaazoot just 8 weeks out, it is time to be putting the kilometers into the bank. Today with temperatures in the Birch Hill stadium hovering around -16 deg F and snowing, it was an ideal time to do the North Classical trails especially for balance challenged SCUM. On a cold day like today, the only skiers who showed up for our Sunday workout were those old enough to remember skiing at much colder temperatures.
After warming up our 6 decade and older bodies on one circuit of yesterday’s Town Race #3 course, we headed off for the recently groomed North Classical loops. With Frank Soos leading the first part of the Classical Bear, he managed to dump a widow’s maker’s worth of snow onto our youngest SCUM, Sam Bishop. Sam decided that following the tallest skier among us wasn’t a good idea so he took the lead. At the Aurora Run intersection, we headed out the North Star trail and eventually came to the RSDH Bypass sign. As a faithful reader of the Sonot Kkaazoot blog, you will now know that this acronym stands for “Really Steep Down Hill” on this single track trail. Dermot Cole, photographer of the photo below, has another “S” word that he uses, but we’ve used the official acronym definition.
“Really Steep Down Hill” bypass sign
With the newly fallen -20 below snow, the RSDH was no challenge navigating, which is fortunate because with my down skirt fully zipped on the sides, I couldn’t snowplow. Dermot also took videos of our downhill ski technique so we could improve before temperatures warm up. Today, no one crashed even though we totally encased with frost from skiing on trails that varied from -15 to -25 deg F.
What does it take to ski at -20 deg F? Two chemical handwarmers in each of your mittens and a set for either side of your phone. And friends to ski with JUST in case something unexpected happens.
It was absolutely beautiful out on the trails today and while we weren’t skiing very quickly, we were getting quite a workout just to keep moving on both the uphills and downhills.
Although Shalene Frost won the women’s 20 km Distance Race #2 last Saturday by skate skiing, the majority of participants were classical skiing as the cold weather has lingered for over a month.
The long range forecasts show a 50 to 70% likelihood that the 8 to 14 day temperature outlooks will be below normal. Thus, most mortals training for the Sonot Kkaazoot should embrace classical skiing and plan to enter some classical races to test your fitness.
The Distance Race #3 will be held on Sunday, 16 February at 11:00 a.m. This event will be held in classical technique over 10 and 30 km courses. You can register for that race here: https://www.nscfairbanks.org/programs/races/distance-series/distance-series-3/
On Sunday, 8 March, the UAF Trails Club will host the 20 km classical Skiathon race and tour on the UAF trails at 11:00 a.m. Information and entry forms can be found here: https://uaftrailsclub.weebly.com/skiathon.html
Entry fees from this race support UAF trails so your $15 entry fee before March 7 ($40 on the day of the race) is a great investment in ski trails on the west end of the borough.
The trails at Birch Hill and UAF have ample snow pack and have been getting regular grooming so conditions are great if somewhat slow. Plan to enter some classical races and you’ll increase your fitness as the Sonot Kkaazoot draws closer.
There is now a flicker of daylight at 5:00 p.m. and although the temperatures are still rather chilly, Spring is quickly approaching. Preparation for the 33rd annual Denali State Bank Sonot Kkaazoot is well underway. With the frigid temperatures that arrived around Winter Solstice and have hung around most of January 2020, ice conditions on the Chena River look more favorable for the Sonot Kkaazoot than they have in many years. Thus, Bad Bob Baker will be looking for a full complement of volunteers to staff the Fort Wainwright road crossings and timing hut on the Chena River on race day. If you don’t plan on skiing the Sonot Kkaazoot, please consider volunteering for this annual spring event. Just drop an email to: email@example.com with your preference in terms of time and task, and we’ll put you on volunteers list.
Just because the temperatures are frigid, there’s no reason you shouldn’t be training if you dress appropriately. There’s even time for selfies and fist pumps as the sun rises earlier every day.
If you need a little guidance, consider signing up for Kristen Rozell’s Sonot Training Course: https://nordicskicluboffairbanks.wildapricot.org/event-3605979 . She’ll provide weekly workouts on Tuesday evenings that will familiarize you with the trails that you’ll ski during the Sonot Kkaazoot as well as provide you with specific training and pacing techniques that will make the Sonot Kkaazoot more enjoyable.
Cold weather is tough on groomers and grooming equipment so donations to the grooming fund are desperately needed to insure that trails are maintained throughout the long ski season. Here’s the URL to donate today:
Supporting ski trails is definitely less expensive than hypertension and pre-diabetes medications. Exercise is a lot easier outdoors and with friends.
So why not sign up for the 33rd Sonot Kkaazoot now so that you’ve made the commitment to get out and train regardless of the weather? Just click on the “Register” tab at the top of this website.
The 200 grit snow that has fallen at Birch Hill at -20 deg F or colder doesn’t support a high glide factor. However, think about the great strength training you’re getting by having to work both uphill and downhill. Also, having the tracks so slow, reduces the windchill factor and the chances of getting your face frostbitten.
The cold start to 2020 has done wonders for the Chena River ice thickness. After having open water in December, the NWS has posted recent ice depths:
This gets the Chena River up to 79% of the normal ice thickness for this time of year, and increases the likelihood that the 33rd annual Denali State Bank Sonot Kkaazoot will take place on the traditional course starting and ending on the Chena River downtown.
What’s holding you back from registering for the Sonot Kkaazoot? The entry fees will only increase as we get closer to race day.