Snow has finally arrived in the greater Fairbanks area, and the groomers are busy packing the trails at Birch Hill.
On Sunday, Bill, one of the groomers led a group of three other Sonot organizers on our first on-snow ski adventure. Bill had already skied 100 km this month, so he enjoyed watching the rest of us fall and take rest breaks.
First Town Race is this Saturday. Get out and enjoy the snow. The Sonot Kkaazoot is just 4 months away!
Although we are firmly in new record territory for the late arrival of Fairbanks’ first snowfall at the airport, we have had brown Octobers previously. In his blog post from October 2013, Richard James from the National Weather Service notes that the ground was bare and the temperature in Fairbanks had reached 51 deg F on 28 October 2013:
Yet, the 2014 Sonot Kkaazoot had excellent spring skiing conditions as noted by Dermot Cole’s Alaska Dispatch column:
I agree that it is very frustrating to not be skiing in October, but the snow will come. The Birch Hill trails that have been mowed and summer trail work will make grooming easier. Groomers have been busy working on the new terrain garden so the late arrival of snow has avoided their early season burnout.
Bad Bob has developed the schedule for the 32nd annual Sonot Kkaazoot, which is a mere 5 months away.
Check the main Sonot Kkaazoot page for all the details. https://sonotkkaazoot.org/
Registration fees will be the same as last year. All registration will be online except at bib pick-up on Thursday, 21 March 2019, and from 8:00 to 9:00 a.m. on race day. In person registration will be at late- and day-of-race entry fee levels.
The main change for the 32nd annual Sonot Kkaazoot is that there will no longer be a separate 50 km classical event. Classical tracks will be set for the entire 50 km course, but classical skiers will start and compete with the 50 km freestyle skiers for overall and age-class awards.
The online registration page will be live soon.
Skiing is still preferable to road biking in Fairbanks as this May Day video from Birch Hill shows. Both Bill Husby and Jerome Jackson skied the 50 km classical Sonot Kkaazoot in March 2018, and are training for 2019.
With temperatures dipping to the mid teens early this morning, the Birch Hill groomers were able to groom and track 9 km of trails to complement the 10 km groomed on Saturday. Although we were unable to see Denali from the Sunnyside Trail, there was plenty of sun and blue skies:
Above, Norma Haubenstock, Volunteer Coordinator for Nordic Ski Club of Fairbanks competition events, negotiates the damage done to the corduroy by SCUM.
Enjoy the Spring Skiing! Thank you Birch Hill groomers! Today’s ski was a treat! Even 320 m of climb went by quickly.
The 31st Denali State Bank Sonot Kkaazoot took place under fantastic sunny skies and nearly perfect temperatures for skiing. This year 285 skiers aged 8 to 72 successfully finished their events.
We are extremely grateful to the support of Denali State Bank, who has been our title sponsor from our modest start in 1988 when 21 skiers crossed the finish line for the 50 km and 8 for the 20 km. Other sponsors key to organizing this event include: Doyon, Ltd, Fort Wainwright, U.S. Army Alaska, Fairbanks North Star Borough, Nordic Ski Club of Fairbanks, Advanced Physical Therapy, Foundation Health Partners, and Subway.
The Sonot Kkaazoot remains a community ski event organized by volunteers who this year numbered over 105. Many individuals served multiple roles in the Sonot Kkaazoot and were essential to our success. Enthusiastic and helpful volunteers kept skiers fueled, safe, and ensured an accurate time. The volunteers page on the Sonot Kkaazoot website lists all volunteers that we identified: https://sonotkkaazoot.org/volunteers/
We absolutely could not have done this without the groomers who worked for days to make the trails absolutely first rate. Over 110 man hours were spent trail clearing and/or grooming for the 2018 Sonot Kkaazoot.
The feed stations had drinks and feeds ready for 5 to 6 hours. They fed and encouraged those of us in the back of the pack when we really needed a boost. Watershed School was a new addition to the Sonot Kkaazoot this year, and staffed the White Bear feed station. Watershed principal, Jarrod Decker generously redirected their feed station honorarium to the Birch Hill Trail Fund because their students benefit from the groomed trails when they take field trips to Birch Hill during the winter. Thank you, Jarrod and Watershed School.
The road crossing teams were especially welcome with concurrent activities going on at the Birch Hill Ski and Snowboard Area. They kept Sonot Kkaazoot skiers safe on the Fort Wainwright Trails when the road crossings had vehicular traffic.
The timers and finish line announcer were working until the last skier crossed. Thank you for demonstrating that every skier’s race is important to them.
After 6 years attempting to be Bad Bob Baker’s sabbatical replacement as Sonot Kkaazoot organizer, I’m happy to be just SCUM again.
Enjoy the spring sunshine! I’ll see you on the ski (or fat bike) trails.