5:30 a.m. report from Birch Hill

It’s 32.5 deg F at Birch Hill, so much cooler than yesterday. Tom Helmers, the Nordic Ski Club of Fairbanks head groomer planned to start grooming at midnight so probably is still out there. Bad Bob and Sharon Baker shoveled snow on dirty spots on the Outhouse and Roller Coasters yesterday. Both courses are marked and will be ready for skiers at 11:00 a.m.

Bib pick-up today from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. at Birch Hill. Race registration ENDS at 9:30 a.m.

Make Sonot Kkaazoot course changes before 6 a.m. Saturday for no additional charge

Because of unseasonably warm temperatures in Fairbanks (the high yesterday at the airport was 53 deg F and was likely warmer at Birch Hill), some skiers may be questioning their decisions to ski the longer course.  Even though we normally restrict changes without additional charge until Thursday night, we will extend that deadline until 6 a.m. Saturday morning for those skiers arriving from out-of-town. Local skiers have the same option. All new registration and changes must be finalized and paid before 9:30 a.m. on Saturday. You may pickup you race bibs until 10:30 a.m. but NO NEW REGISTRATION OR CHANGES AFTER 9:30 a.m. Changes made after 6 a.m. on Saturday will be charged the additional fees assessed on race day.

Email: contact@sonotkkaazoot.org with any changes you want to make before 6 a.m. Saturday. If you’ve already picked up your bib, we won’t be able to change your entry.

At 1:00 p.m. today, the Birch Hill temperature was 51.3 deg F, it was 44 deg F at the airport. The overnight low was 44.1 deg F at Birch Hill so plan accordingly. Trails will be groomed Saturday morning. We have done some snow shoveling onto the trails in some of the low snow spots but some of the trails may have very narrow snow covered sections. Mother Nature holds all the cards. The 9.5 km course is solid and is unlikely to change. The 30 km course may have some surprises on Saturday morning. I’ll try to post any updates I get from our trail groomers.

As of noon on Friday, 137 skiers signed up for the 10 km race; 143 skiers for the 30 km event. The youngest skier registered is 7 years old; the oldest 83 years old.

Don’t forget that the Awards Banquet and Nordic Ski Club of Fairbanks annual membership meeting starts at 6 p.m. at the Birch Hill Recreation Area on race day. We have three hearty homemade soups on the menu along with other goodies and potluck salads and desserts supplied by local skiers.

Plan to attend so you can select your one of kind age class woodel from the collection that Mike Schmoker and Bernardo Hernandez have cut from birch sections, burned in their skier design, and applied sealant to create these coveted awards. This year because there are only two courses, all skiers are eligible for woodels.

Pick up your Sonot bibs tonight

With 366 skiers already signed up for the 32nd annual Denali State Bank Sonot Kkaazoot, local skiers are strongly urged to attend early bib pick-up at the Doyon, Ltd. Building TONIGHT from 5 to 7 p.m. With just one mass start on Saturday, bib pick-up on race morning will be much more congested than normal.

Race director, Bad Bob Baker will have enlarged course maps and profiles for your examination at early bib pick-up tonight.

A limited number of Sonot Kkaazoot hats with Margo Klass’ striking Northern Lights design will be available for sale for $25 cash or check (made out to Nordic Ski Club of Fairbanks) only.

30th Sonot hat!

Sonot Kkaazoot hats modeled by artist Margo Klass, left and Frank Soos, Sonot Kkaazoot head bib volunteer


BIBS MAY BE PICKED UP UNTIL 10:30 a.m. at Birch Hill

30 km Sonot Kkaazoot course profile

John Estle, Race Coordinator, Nordic Ski Club of Fairbanks, has provided this 30 km course profile that he feels all Sonot racers will find informative. He wrote in his email to Bob Baker:

I have a high degree of confidence in the accuracy of the profile.
Elevations were taken from a digital elevation model, and lat/long
coordinates for the path were taken from sat photos.

Average climb is 34.5 m/km, which is right in the middle of FIS specs. It is
on the low end compared to most World Cup courses, which are in the
35-40 m/km range, but it is plenty challenging for a citizen race.

Sonot 2019 Proflie-Short_red

The profile is available as a downloadable PDF file below:

Sonot 2019 Proflie-Short_print

Sonot Kkaazoot courses (20 March 2019)

Today is the first day of spring, and the record warm temperatures have forced a change in the revised Sonot Kkaazoot long courses. Race director, Bad Bob Baker has removed the Sonot Connector from this year’s 40 and 50 km courses. This will make the long courses only 30 km.

The  50  and 40 km races will become one race competed over a 30  km distance. Starting at 11:00 am in the Birch Hill Stadium, skiers go up the West Ramp, then taking a sharp right hand downhill turn onto the end of the Competition loop, and then a sharp downhill left hand turn staying on the Competition loop and heading down onto the North 40.. From this point, the long race will follow the normal Sonot course until it reaches the Sunnyside loop, off the the Outhouse loop.  It will follow the Sunnyside down to the top of Cliffside, and then head left, back up the Sunnyside, and back around, returning to the Outhouse loop.  Racers will take a right back onto Outhouse loop and finish that, then take a hard right onto the Relay Start loop, and continue on it back to the RAMP. Next, racers will head down the Ramp to the bottom and turn right up onto the East Ramp, following it up right into the Tower Loop, around the whole Tower Loop, then onto the Roller Coasters, back to the Stadium, then hard right down onto the White Bear Access, and onto the White Bear.

Skiers will ski the entire White Bear, then turn right into Moilanen Meadows, then finally, turn right, back onto the White Bear and finish up with the White Bear Access into the Stadium, and lastly doing the whole Warm-Up Loop and into the FINISH!!   It’s a very tough, hilly 30 km course, and with the addition of the SUNNYSIDE LOOP, I think racers will enjoy the  course!


Artwork by Bad Bob Baker, who will be at early bib pick-up to explain his maps.

Because 40 km racers will be skiing the same course as the 50 km skiers, they are eligible for woodels this year.

The 20 km race,course is 9.5 km The distance is much shorter, due to the non-flatness of the course.  Racers will also start at 11:00 am in the middle of the Stadium at Birch Hill, right along side the 50 & 40 km racers.   The  9.5  kilometer course will start straight up the main RAMP and out and around the Relay Start Loop, then a slight right hand turn onto the Roller Coaster By-Pass, and back to the Stadium.  Next, you’ll take a hard right hand turn, down onto the White Bear Access, and onto the White Bear Loop.   You’ll follow the White Bear all the way out to the CORONARY  BY-PASS  Turnaround, which will be just beyond the 5- kilometer point,  then head all the way back to the Stadium at Birch Hill, via  the White Bear and White Bear Access loops.  Once you get to the Stadium, racers will turn hard to the right in the Stadium and ski back behind and around the Main Chalet Building, skiing under the overpass/bridge of the Chalet Building and straight into the FINISH. You will not ski Moilanen Meadows or the Warm-up Loops.


Green outlined trails are the 9.5 km course, artwork by Bad Bob Baker


Sonot Kkaazoot will be all at Birch Hill

From Bad Bob Baker, Sonot Kkaazoot race director:

The 32nd Running of the SONOT  KKAAZOOT, to be held this Saturday, March 23, 2019, will completely take place at BIRCH  HILL

Below are 4 pictures i took this morning (Tuesday) of the Chena River.  It was very overcast and 29 degrees at 10:00 am, by noon it was right at 32 and rising. We are predicted to receive temps near 50 for the next 2 days. Although the river was stable this morning with the lower temps, I have no doubt that conditions will only get worse, skiing wise.  I drilled all around the first kilometer, up to the Steese Hwy Bridge and found several spots as thin as 3 inches right in the middle of our course. This is too thin, especially when water was flowing on each side of these thin spots.  Another problem is the amount of ICE along the River. This would make it nearly impossible to set down a decent set of TRACKS, which tells participants where the safe boundaries are, while on the Chena River. With the forecast for temps in the high 40’s and overnight lows in the mid 20’s, I can make the official call now!  0319191132asm0319191148sm0319191158sm


All photos taken by Bad Bob Baker on 3/19/19

The 32nd Denali State Bank SONOT  KKAAZOOT, to be held this Saturday, March 23, 2019, will completely take place at BIRCH  HILL. Start and Finish will be in the main stadium, and all races will start at 11:00am this Saturday.

The early bib pick-up and late registration will still take place this Thursday, March 21 at the DOYON  building  from 5:00pm – 7:00pm.

Final bib pick-up and registration will occur at BIRCH  HILL on race morning from 8:30am-10:30am.  It’s best to attend the early bib pick-up at DOYON on Thursday.

Chena River looking fluid, 5 days out

With Sonot Kkaazoot race director, Bob Baker still homeward bound from Norway, Nordic Ski Club of Fairbanks head groomer, Tom Helmers, made an inspection of the Chena River near where the River opened up during the 2016 Sonot Kkaazoot. With today’s temperatures predicted to be in the high 40s at the airport, current conditions don’t bode well for the traditional start and finish area for the 32nd annual Denali State Bank Sonot Kkaazoot.


Overflow in middle of Bob’s trail where river broke in 2016


To right of trail looking upstream


View closer to upstream bank

All photos were taken by Tom Helmers.

With temperatures at Birch Hill today already at 49.6 deg F shortly after noon, our training tip for Sonot Kkaazoot skiers is to ski on the UAF trails (that were groomed this morning) where temperatures are more seasonal. Alternatively, rest up for tackling a more challenging course than normal on Saturday.