Congratulations to Sonot Kkaazoot skiers

For the first time in recent history, all skiers participating in the 32nd annual Denali State Bank Sonot Kkaazoot finished their 9.5 or 30 km courses in under 4 hours. Also, winning times are the fastest in the event’s history in part because the courses were shorter than other years when the Sonot Kkaazoot has been held all at Birch Hill.

Congratulations to our 32nd annual Denali State Bank Sonot Kkaazoot winners, all of whom reside outside of the Fairbanks North Star Borough.

30 km 

Eric Packer, 28, Anchorage,   1:12:12.9

Marine Dusser, 30, Anchorage, 1:22:53.7

9.5 km

Andrew Stringfellow, 16, Nenana,  24:36.5

Georgianna Fischer, 16, Bozeman, MT, 28:27.8

One hundred twenty five skiers finished the 9.5 km event and 125 skiers finished the 30 km one. Although the number of skiers completing the 32nd annual Sonot Kkaazoot was slightly down from the previous 6 years, this is the largest combined field for an all-Birch Hill Sonot Kkaazoot.

Thank you to all the volunteers and skiers who helped us celebrate spring on skis in Interior Alaska.

Yes, it’s been warm in March before

Yes, it’s very warm outside today and is forecast to be the same or warmer tomorrow. However, we’ve had warm March temperatures in the past, and still held the Sonot Kkaazoot as it has been for 31 years.

In 2015, March was very warm like this spring and the Sonot Kkaazoot took place on March 28 that year—five days later than this year.

PAFA_201503

Although the Chena River is not looking particularly solid for safe skiing, we have held the Sonot Kkaazoot on the traditional course starting and finishing on the Chena River for the past eight years (2011 to 2018). Before that, we had three consecutive years of alternate Sonot Kkaazoot courses, two years all at Birch Hill (2008 and 2009) and one year all on the Chena River (2010) to balance things out.

Sonot Kkaazoot skiers have to be flexible at times and ski whatever conditions and courses Mother Nature tosses our way.  However, spring skiing in Fairbanks is always a special treat.

Best ever conditions at Fort Wainwright Road Crossings

Thanks to Robert Hannon, Sonot Fort Wainwright liaison, and Dani O’Donnell, Fort Wainwright Community Engagement and Media Relations staff person, a crew of 17 Fort Wainwright volunteers were recruited to help Eric Troyer and Bill Chedister in staffing the road crossings on River and Ski Roads.

As shown below (all photos by Eric Troyer, https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.2012647878765322.1073741843.106945789335550&type=1&l=a4233c29a2), these volunteers directed vehicular and skier traffic, shoveled snow on the roadway, and encouraged 40 and 50 km skiers in the early and late stages of their Sonot Kkaazoot journeys.

These Fort Wainwright personnel greatly enhanced the partnership with Fort Wainwright that has existed for all 31 years that the Sonot Kkaazoot taken place.

We urge skiers to thank their neighbors and Fort Wainwright personnel for their additional commitment to the greater Fairbanks North Star Borough community.(https://sonotkkaazoot.org/volunteers/). Without the partnership with Fort Wainwright, the Sonot Kkaazoot would not be possible.

Last weekend ski at Birch Hill likely today

Traditionally some of the best skiing of the year happens after the Sonot Kkaazoot. However, with the overall winter being warm and low snowfall with a record loading of birch seed and spruce cones, the ski season at Birch Hill for 2014 to 2015 is drawing to a close. In addition to the Ski for Women participants, we enjoyed the wonderfully groomed ski trails today and some unexpected sunshine.

Dermot not dermotized_smShirtless Ray_sm3 shirtless skiers_smWe close out the ski season at Birch Hill with this rare shirtless photo shoot.

Skiing at West Ridge is still feasible for at least another week so we may post some photos from our annual Smith Lake biathlon (ski, swim) event that will likely be no earlier than late April.

FXC coaches set new record Sonot Kkaazoot times

Fast snow conditions led to fast times in the 2015 Sonot Kkaazoot.

Rebecca Konieczny set a new record time for the Women’s 50 km freestyle Sonot Kkaazoot. Her time  2:23:40.6 took 7:32 off the previous record finish time held by Melissa Lewis from 2005. In addition, the Sonot Connector was added to the Sonot Kkaazoot course in 2012, so Rebecca skied a couple of km further than the old “50 km” course when skiers accessed Birch Hill Recreation Area via the Fort Wainwright alpine hill.

Likewise, Peter Leonard, also improved upon the previous record time for the Men’s 20 km Sonot Kkaazoot set in 2005 by Marius Korthauer. Pete’s time of 45:56.3 bettered the Men’s record time by about 58 seconds.

Sonot Kkaazoot coverage in local media

From the Fairbanks Daily Newsminer with 11 photographs:

http://www.newsminer.com/sports/local/jack-novak-captures-title-in-sonot-kkaazoot/article_0d3087f4-d5e9-11e4-b58b-0f8cf05f9f6e.html

Alaska Dispatch News story on the oldest finisher in the 50 km Sonot Kkaazoot:

http://www.adn.com/article/20150331/79-year-old-cross-country-skier-finds-solace-50-kilometer-sonot-kkaazoot