Thanks to the amazing Jeff Skeels, Fort Wainwright groomer, the Sonot Connector had been newly piston bully groomed on Sunday, 3 December 2017. It was so delightful that several of us decided to descend and climb the Sonot Connector twice.
Above, Bernardo Hernandez, one of the Sonot Kkaazoot’s woodel makers, leads Dermot Cole up the Sonot Connector. Thanks, Jeff, for the fantastic ski yesterday.
Don’t forget the first of the Buetow Dental and Pangaea Health Distance Races (7.5 and 15 km CL) is scheduled for Saturday, 9 December 2017. It’s time to start working on getting into condition for the 2018 Sonot Kkaazoot. Sign up here:
Although October was exceptionally wet, temperatures were also unusually warm so snow was late in coming to the Fairbanks area. However, after one false start, the snowpack on the Jim Whisenhant cross country ski trails at Birch Hill Recreation Area and on Fort Wainwright trails is great for both classical and free technique skiing. Thanks to a lot of volunteer brushing work done this fall on the White Bear trail, skate and classical skiing are great. Unfortunately, our fitness isn’t quite in the same shape yet. Here’s what coronary bypass looked like a week ago:
Yesterday we skied from the Sunnyside Trail to Fort Wainwright, where we found that the Army was busily enhancing snow cover on the alpine ski hill making for unusual skiing conditions up the ski slope to the base of the Sonot Connector. However, the classical tracks on the Sonot Connector and White Bear were awesome.
Take a break from snow shoveling and scooping to enjoy the ski trails!
The 31st annual Sonot Kkaazoot just 4 months away.
Under sunny skies, the 30th annual Sonot Kkaazoot was successfully completed by 236 skiers. Participants who ranged in age from 8 to 73 participated in four events ranging in distance from 20 km to 50 km. While most of the skiers were from the Fairbanks North Star Borough, this year the Sonot Kkaazoot welcomed 54 skiers who reside elsewhere in the state or outside Alaska.
The organizers would like to thank our title sponsor, Denali State Bank, who has supported the Sonot Kkaazoot since Bad Bob Baker originated the race in 1988.
We also acknowledge the major contribution of Doyon, Limited, Fairbanks North Star Borough Parks and Recreation, Fort Wainwright, U.S. Army Alaska, Foundation Health Partners, and the Nordic Ski Club of Fairbanks in making possible this Nordic ski event that begins in downtown Fairbanks, traverses the Chena River to Fort Wainwright, and then follows Fort Wainwright trails to Birch Hill Recreational Area before returning to the start downtown.
Enthusiastic volunteers provided timing assistance and course work, staffed feed stations, road crossings, bib pick-up and registration, and the post-race awards ceremony (see Volunteers page above). The Nordic Ski Club of Fairbanks groomers worked tirelessly to ensure awesome trail conditions.
Thank you to all our sponsors, volunteers, and skiers. We look forward to seeing everyone again next year!
Photo by Margo Klass
The photos below show some of the road crossing volunteers on race day:
And the photos below show some key Sonot Kkaazoot organizers participating in the 30th annual Sonot Kkaazoot.
Frank Soos, guru of bibs and 50% of the team (with his wife, Margo Klass) that designed the fantastic Sonot Kkaazoot hats:
Chris Puchner, organizer of feed stations and the Sonot Kkaazoot start and finish area, skis his longest Sonot Kkaazoot (thanks to pneumonia, work, and out-of-state family issues):
Bill Husby, one of the key NSCF groomers, before he broke his ski pole and skied 12 km with just one:
Mike Schmoker, master of the woodel construction and award presentations:
Bruce Jamieson, NSCF president and World Masters skier:
Robert Hannon, Fort Wainwright contact and media mogul:
All photos by Eric Troyer
Bad Bob Baker and Byron Broda have photo op with Jessie Diggins!
Groomer Bill Husby, chief of course for USSA Distance National Championships (and a key Sonot groomer) takes a selfie with Jessie before getting back to work.
Peter Leonard and Kate Fitzgerald are amazing skiers and their 50 km Sonot Kkaazoot victories Saturday were well-deserved. To many of us, just finishing the annual Sonot Kkaazoot is an accomplishment because of our increasing age and health-related challenges.
Among the SCUM organizers of the Sonot Kkaazoot, there were little internal achievements. This year, Byron Broda (who skis with two total knee replacements) beat Bad Bob Baker (whose heart stopped in June 2016 after winning his heat at the Jim Loftus Mile) to the 50 km finish line. Bruce Jamieson, who skied while undergoing chemotherapy had an endurance challenge shorter than that of Chris Puchner (who is still recovering from a bout of pneumonia). Bruce and Chris both skied at World Masters in Switzerland as did Baker and Owen Hanley, all SCUM volunteers for Saturday’s Sonot Kkaazoot.
Ken Coe, the trail sweep at Birch Hill, followed me from the top of the Sonot Connector and I could hear him behind me as I departed the stadium for the last time, However, I surprised Bob Baker, the Chena River sweep, because I was no longer the red lantern. That was because the wind had picked up a little and Dermot Cole’s layers of clothing became an effective sail holding him back. Thus, with my left leg cramping, I was able to pass him several km from the finish.
Photo by Susie Frei
As the final two 50 km finishers, we got the best bargain on our entry fees (most time per dollar spent). We’ll be back next year. I hope that you will be, too.
Groomers were out on the Chena River today in preparation for Saturday’s Sonot Kkaazoot. Ken Coe has deemed their handiwork as “race ready” after they finished today. Classical tracks in both directions will be set on the morning of the race to make sure that they are not damaged overnight. Also, Bad Bob Baker spent over an hour today doing test drilling of ice thicknesses on the first 0.5 km of the course. Even in the “bad looking thin spots”, the ice was over a foot thick.
Thus, barring some unforeseen weather anomaly before Saturday, we’re a “go” for the traditional start and finish line of the 30th annual Sonot Kkaazoot.
Remember, that early bib pick-up is Thursday, 23 March 2017 at the Doyon Ltd, Headquarters from 5 to 7 p.m. All late registration must be done online. See the “register” tab at the top of this website.
Photos by Bill Husby
A trio of groomers and drags work on the Chena River today (video by Bill Husby)