From Sonot Kkaazoot Race Director, Bad Bob Baker:
11 am Wednesday Feb 20. I just got off the Chena River, temp on the River at 8:30 am was just below zero. This morning I was bound and determined to start at the Cushman bridge and travel the entire 20 km route. Success! My Ski Doo Scandic SWT and I made it from start to finish without ending up below the Chena River ice. That said, the Chena River is still far from being a safe place to ski, walk, snowmachine or check out.
As seen in these photos on the Chena River at the downtown starting area, I churned up slush and water for the entire first 800 meters.
Photos of Sonot Kkaazoot start area on Chena River taken by Bad Bob Baker on 2-20-19
Had I stopped in a few spots, I felt that I would have broken through, or at the very least, been hopelessly stuck. Countless other spots along the entire river portion of the Sonot produced similar results. Needless to say. I did not attempt to pull my drag/groomer.
This year the Chena River is playing a game that I have yet to experience in my 32 years of grooming for the Sonot Kkaazoot. I’m not calling it quits yet for a traditional downtown river start. We’re still over 4 weeks from race day. Late March is always a great time to ski in Fairbanks. No matter where you’re skiing, it’s always an awesome experience.
I head over to Norway on March 3rd. I will give at least one more Chena River update before I leave, and will also will announce the race courses if the Sonot ends up all at Birch Hill. We should have a final decision by the early bib pick-up at the Doyon building on Thursday March 21. Until then, get yourself signed up for this year’s Sonot! Whatever the course, it will be a great day to be out on your skis!!