Celebrating the groomers during the virtual Sonot Kkaazoot


Tom Helmers, head NSCF groomer after working 4 hrs at -20 deg F

Although so far, skiers have devoted from one hour to the better part of a day to their virtual Sonot Kkaazoot skis, the groomers have also been working. In the five days since the virtual Sonot Kkaazoot started, the Nordic Ski Club of Fairbanks (NSCF) groomers have spent 12.5 hours working on the trails. (Updated 3/24/20: 15 hours were spent grooming last night and today)

Bad Bob Baker, who uses his personal grooming equipment, has spent 32 hours grooming the Chena River, and an additional 10 hours checking out the river conditions and hauling equipment back and forth to accomplish his grooming.

Bad Bob grooming turnaround sm

Bad Bob grooming the 20 km turnaround

This season, Nordic Ski Club of Fairbanks groomers have put 840 km on the piston bully and 1,300 km on the five snowmachines used for grooming. This is effort that allows skiers to train so that they are physically able to ski the Virtual Sonot Kkaazoot. As of 12 March, groomers had logged 832 hours of effort. They often do grooming chores during their own skiing time.


Bill Husby grooming the White Bear trail

The condition of the groomed trails that we are skiing on now depends upon grooming all winter in addition to brushing and maintenance work done over the non-snow months.

Bill Husby and Ken Coe doing trail maintenance

Bill Husby & Ken Coe doing pre-winter trail work—photo by Tom Helmers

Ski trails aren’t maintained by the borough, they are maintained with funds from Nordic Ski Club of Fairbanks donations and sponsorships. If you haven’t already done so, please donate to the NSCF trail fund so we can continue to ski this spring:


Snow that makes everyone a champion

Trails groomed so that everyone can ski like a champion.

Thank you.

Most photos of NSCF groomers were taken by Eric Troyer, SCUM in charge of Sonot Kkaazoot media and NSCF board member, who is touring and Facebook coordinator. He is also the best-dressed SCUM at races.

Bad Bob says “Ski Virtual Sonot soon”

Spring has arrived in Fairbanks. Bad Bob Baker, who has 33 years experience grooming the Chena River, warns that the Sonot Kkaaoot course on the Chena River may NOT be safe if you wait until Saturday, 28 March 2020 to ski the Virtual Sonot Kkaaoot.

Bad Bob plans to groom the river again tomorrow morning (Wednesday) and will set classical tracks on the edges of the Virtual Sonot Course. Stay inside of those tracks! If you notice new holes or signs of break-up, don’t ski near them. Use your head and be safe. 

Carry government identification while on Fort Wainwight property and use extreme caution at all road crossings. The first road was very slick today when walking across with ski boots.

Ski one of the three Sonot Kkaazoot courses. Send us a screen shot of the display from your GPS route, date, and time to us at: 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, distance and who you skied with or saw while you were out on the trails.

When Bad Bob deems the Chena River to be ungroomable, the VIRTUAL SONOT KKAAZOOT will be over. Kaput! Done. So get out there and ski. 

Bob also plans to groom early on both Saturday and Sunday (21 and 22 March 2020).

33rd Sonot Kkaazoot canceled

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.


Regular registration ends Friday

Exercise, especially outdoors where you’re almost always more than a meter away from another skier, is beneficial in boosting your immune system and lowering stress. To date, 85 skiers ranging in age from 8 to 71 have registered for the 33rd Denali State Bank Sonot Kkaazoot.

Here is the current breakdown of entries:

20 km event: 38 skiers

40 km event: 8 skiers

50 km event: 39 skiers

Regular registration ends Friday. After that, you’ll be charged late registration fees. With 85 skiers spread over 50 km of ski trails, the likelihood of you contacting the coronavirus during the Sonot Kkaazoot is extremely low even if entries double before race day. This year’s snowfall and cold weather has the course looking spectacular with a little more than two weeks before the Sonot Kkaazoot.

Click the “register” tab at the top of this blogsite and you can securely sign up for any of the three events.

Perfect ski on the classic only trails

Today the temperature was -4 deg F when we left the hut with a major temperature inversion. However, all the classical only trails had been groomed on Wednesday so we didn’t want to miss the opportunity to ski on firm new tracks even if it meant dropping down 10 or 20 deg F.

The trails didn’t disappoint. If you are training for the Sonot Kkaazoot, or even more, if you are training for the Oosik or the Skiathon,  you REALLY should check out the classical only trails at Birch Hill.

The North Classical trails are groomed 5 feet wide making downhill corners easier for skiers with less flexible joints. The really steep downhill on the North Star was just fun today–no fall anxiety at all.

North Classics tracks sm

North Star tracks sm

Skiing past North Star pond sm

The South Classical trails are more technical but with the current snowfall and grooming, this 70 year old, bionic skier managed to easily stay on her skis on the Blackhawk loop.

Bernardo on Black Hawk sm

Trails groomed by Ken Coe and Bill Husby. All photos by Bill Husby.

Enjoy the longer days on the ski trails. If you enjoy skiing, please make sure that you donate to the Birch Hill Trail Fund:


Chena River groomed for Spring Break

The Chena River portion of the Sonot Kkaazoot trail has been groomed again today and is ready for skiing. Bad Bob Baker reports that it is 20 feet wide (or more) for the entire length.

What’s holding you back? The river ice is more than 2 feet thick and the trail is groomed 20 feet wide? It’s just a little over three weeks until the Sonot Kkaazoot. Register now and avoid future price increases.

Bad Bob gives Chena River trail a thumbs up

Sonot Kkaazoot Race Director, Bad Bob Baker gives the Chena River trail a thumbs up.

Wide enough to skate side-by-sideChena River 3-5-20