Awesome Chena River skiing today

1 March 2019: It was +16 deg F and sunny at Denali State Bank at 11 a.m. as I headed out on the 20 km Sonot Kkaazoot course from start to turnaround. Groomers Bad Bob Baker and Bill Poles Husby had been out since 8 a.m. Skiing was awesome including under the highway bridges where Bob had dragged snow earlier and through repeated dragging had ground up the jumble ice. No need to use rock skis today! Today will be Bad Bob’s last grooming of the Sonot course until he returns from Norway on the Tuesday before the Sonot Kkaazoot.

Bad Bob and his drag on Chena River_1 Mar 2019sm.JPG

Bad Bob and his drag on his pass toward town as I headed out around 11:15 a.m. today

Below are some photos I took during my 20 km ski. I was way overdressed and by the end, I was skiing without a hat. Bad Bob made an additional pass on the trail after I skied out, leaving the trail much wider and more level. On my return to the start, it was virtually an all V2 ski.

Only climb on the 20 km course sm

Only climb on the 20 km Sonot course

Bad Bob removing toe grabbers on 20 km turnaround sm

Bad Bob’s technique for removing toe grabbers on the 20 km turnaround trail

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Bad Bob adds a kick as he grooms the 20 km turnaround

Bob and Sharon Baker will be out skiing the 20 km Sonot Kkaazoot course this afternoon. I highly recommend that you do the same. It will top off your Vitamin D stores and will definitely encourage you to sign up for the 32nd annual Denali State Bank Sonot Kkaazoot today.

March skiing in Fairbanks is simply unbeatable.

Sunny ski training for the Sonot

Now that the 2018-2019 race season for the Nordic Ski Club of Fairbanks has finished up  with the exception of the Sonot Kkaazoot, it is time to enjoy those long spring skis. The sunshine was out in abundance this morning as the SCUM (Sonot Kkaazoot organizers) were out enjoying the black loops.

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Sunny skies, piston bully groomed corduroy, and deep classical tracks–what more could a skier want?

Don’t forget to donate to the grooming fund. http://nordicskicluboffairbanks.wildapricot.org/Donate

Also, it is time to make your commitment to skiing the 32nd annual Denali State Bank Sonot Kkaazoot. The longer you wait, the more you’ll pay in entry fees. Just follow the “register” tab at the top of this page. The event on March 23, 2019 is less than a month away.

“So Not” Chena River Update 2-20-19

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.

Sonot start landscape 2-20-19

Photos of Sonot Kkaazoot start area on Chena River taken by Bad Bob Baker on 2-20-19

Sonot start area 2-20-19

Sonot start area 2 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!!

Bad Bob

April 15 skiing on Sunnyside Trail

With temperatures dipping to the mid teens early this morning, the Birch Hill groomers were able to groom and track 9 km of trails to complement the 10 km groomed on Saturday. Although we were unable to see Denali from the Sunnyside Trail, there was plenty of sun and blue skies:

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SCUM gather on top of picnic table to approach Frank Soos (far right) in height for last group shot of season.

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Coach John Estle slows down to join the gathering crowd

 

Above, Norma Haubenstock, Volunteer Coordinator for Nordic Ski Club of Fairbanks competition events, negotiates the damage done to the corduroy by SCUM.

Enjoy the Spring Skiing! Thank you Birch Hill groomers! Today’s ski was a treat! Even 320 m of climb went by quickly.

Thanks to Sonot Kkaazoot sponsors and volunteers

The 31st Denali State Bank Sonot Kkaazoot took place under fantastic sunny skies and nearly perfect temperatures for skiing. This year 285 skiers aged 8 to 72 successfully finished their events.

We are extremely grateful to the support of Denali State Bank, who has been our title sponsor from our modest start in 1988 when 21 skiers crossed the finish line for the 50 km and 8 for the 20 km. Other sponsors key to organizing this event include: Doyon, Ltd, Fort Wainwright, U.S. Army Alaska, Fairbanks North Star Borough, Nordic Ski Club of Fairbanks, Advanced Physical Therapy, Foundation Health Partners, and Subway.

The Sonot Kkaazoot remains a community ski event organized by volunteers who this year numbered over 105. Many individuals served multiple roles in the Sonot Kkaazoot and were essential to our success. Enthusiastic and helpful volunteers kept skiers fueled, safe, and ensured an accurate time. The volunteers page on the Sonot Kkaazoot website lists all volunteers that we identified: https://sonotkkaazoot.org/volunteers/

We absolutely could not have done this without the groomers who worked for days to make the trails absolutely first rate. Over 110 man hours were spent trail clearing and/or grooming for the 2018 Sonot Kkaazoot.

The feed stations had drinks and feeds ready for 5 to 6 hours. They fed and encouraged those of us in the back of the pack when we really needed a boost. Watershed School was a new addition to the Sonot Kkaazoot this year, and staffed the White Bear feed station. Watershed principal, Jarrod Decker generously redirected their feed station honorarium to the Birch Hill Trail Fund because their students benefit from the groomed trails when they take field trips to Birch Hill during the winter. Thank you, Jarrod and Watershed School.

The road crossing teams were especially welcome with concurrent activities going on at the Birch Hill Ski and Snowboard Area. They kept Sonot Kkaazoot skiers safe on the Fort Wainwright Trails when the road crossings had vehicular traffic.

The timers and finish line announcer were working until the last skier crossed. Thank you for demonstrating that every skier’s race is important to them.

After 6 years attempting to be Bad Bob Baker’s sabbatical replacement as Sonot Kkaazoot organizer, I’m happy to be just SCUM again.

Enjoy the spring sunshine! I’ll see you on the ski (or fat bike) trails.

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“I think I’ll stick to skiing”–Photo by Dan Johnson

Sonot Update: Two days out

The temperature at the Sonot Kkaazoot race start this morning was much colder than predicted at -10 deg F. Bad Bob will be out on the river late this afternoon to determine ice thicknesses so that we can report the location of our race start at early bib pick-up tonight at the Doyon, Ltd. building from 5 to 7 p.m.

Bad Bob will drag the Chena River portion of the Sonot Kkaazoot course again this afternoon if you want to personally check it out before or after you pick up your bib.

Still trying to decide whether to sign up? Check out the awesome Sonot Kkaazoot informational flyer designed by Rebecca Heaton that is available for download on the home page.

Here are some photos that Bad Bob took on Wednesday:

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Ramp down to the Sonot Kkaazoot start area (all photos by Bad Bob Baker)

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Chena River trail three days out

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Sonot Kkaazoot trail near Hamilton Acres

Wild life on the trail 3 days out

Wildlife captured on the trail three days out