Wednesday, November 28, 2012

I don't care if the snow is real or fake

Here are a few pictures taken at Kincaid Park this afternoon by the local TV weatherman:

There's nothing more that needs to be said.

Groundhog Day

People in Anchorage are fond of saying “If you don’t like the weather here, just wait a few minutes and it’ll change.”  But this is totally inaccurate.  People who make this statement must not go outdoors very much.  Unlike some other parts of Alaska, where the weather truly does change quickly, dramatically and often (like the Aleutian Islands) Alaska’s topography and geography makes for “trendy” weather in Anchorage.  Early last winter, for example, we got into a pattern in which it seemed like the jet stream brought every single snowstorm straight to Anchorage and parked it here.  This pretty much continued all winter and we ended up breaking the city’s all-time record for snowfall.  This summer and fall was rainy – from beginning to end.  Lasse’s parents claim that they were able to come here for a three-week visit in July with only three days of rain, but of course I don’t believe them.  They must be in denial about their decision to take a soggy, miserable Alaska vacation instead of spending that time soaking up the rays on the beach beside the Baltic Sea.

But last month, as soon as it got cold enough to snow, the sun came out.  And it’s been out ever since.  Every morning is like the movie “Groundhog Day”.  I don't like to look a gift horse in the mouth, and it sounds pretty bratty to complain about beautiful sunny weather, but skiers are starting to curse at the sun.  We’re in a familiar Alaska weather pattern, with a big bubble of high-pressure over central Alaska, preventing any stormy weather from reaching us here in Anchorage, and every storm goes around Anchorage instead of through it.  According to the National Weather Service, we have only received about a quarter of the typical snowfall for Anchorage so far this fall – three inches. And there’s no change in the weather predicted. 
Nevertheless, there is a little bit of snow in town, and we have been skiing on it with our rock skis.  And the cold temperatures and lack of snow do not seem to have wiped the smiles off our skiers' faces.

In other news, the Ski Club’s long-awaited snowmaking project at Kincaid Park is coming closer to fruition.  Snow guns have been installed and connected to the irrigation system on the ski trails and the system is pretty much all in place and ready to go.  The word around the club is that the TechnoAlpin experts are scheduled to arrive in Anchorage today to teach the Club how to operate the system, run water into the pipes, flip the electrical switches and see what happens.  The theory is that with four to five days of continuous operation in cold weather, the club could put down snow on a four-kilometer loop.  But first, they need to find out if the system works or if additional troubleshooting is necessary.  Keep your fingers crossed.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Girdwood Reunion

I haven't seen the team in a long time.  I've missed them.  I was traveling to the Bering Sea, Aleutian Islands, Kodiak and Cordova - warm, windy, rainy places.  Meanwhile, they traveled to Powerline Pass and Fairbanks - cold, dry places.  But today I finally caught up with the team again - in Girdwood, forty miles south of Anchorage. 

Girdwood has a long but inconsistent history of cross-country skiing.  In the late sixties, the US Junior National Championships were held in Girdwood.  But eventually those trails became overgrown and the only evidence they ever existed are a few trail markers still nailed to those big old spruce trees.  If you know where to look, you can still find some of them.  There have always been trails through the Moose Meadows, and informal backcountry trails farther back in the valley, but no dedicated, wide, consistently groomed trails suitable for training and racing. A few years ago, Deb Essex got it into her head that Girdwood needed a ski club and a new set of ski trails. So she founded the Girdwood Nordic Ski Club.  And now, after several years of organizing, lobbying, fundraising, and finally tree clearing and bulldozing, Girdwood has a new, modern 5-kilometer cross-country ski trail. And it's fantastic, with demanding uphills and some fun downhills, too.

The new trail in Girdwood is a great asset for Anchorage skiers because while Anchorage is located in a northern temperate climate, Girdwood is in a rainforest.  Girdwood gets about a zillion times more rain than Anchorage, and about a zillion times more snow, too.  Sometimes when we have only a few inches of snow in Anchorage, they have several feet in Girdwood.
This picture isn't from today.  It's from last year.  Just in case you don't believe me when I say it snows a lot in Girdwood.

The trail work is still being finished up.

Pati doing no-pole drills today.

Karina, Cara, and Sarah.

Viktor and Lukas.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Phairbanks in Photos

Pictures from this weekend's Alaska Cup races in Fairbanks:



Viktor (looking VERY American) & Marine
The Black Knight
Galen of the Mountain
Looks like the womens' team went buff-shopping together.  Here's Maya and Cara in matching neckwear.
...and Marine
Can you guess what Davis' college major is?  That's right - aviation technology.  Given the choice, the Black Knight prefers to fly.
Viktor working his way up through the field on Sunday.
66.6 percent of Team Ginger
There are more photos where these came from, but if you want to see them you'll have convince Davis Dunlap (or perhaps Russ Dunlap) to be your "facebook-friend".  Thank you, Russ!

The first race weekend of the year is in the books

Here are the final results of the weekend:

 Here are the Stage 3 Results (Sunday only):

 Podium Pictures:

Sunday's Race: Alyson McPhetres, Marine Dusser, Raphaela Sieber

Sunday's race: Logan Hanneman, Viktor Braennmark, Lex Treinen

Overall Tour de Fairbanks:  Alyson McPhetres, Raphaela Sieber, Marine Dusser

Overall Tour de Fairbanks: Viktor Braennmark, Logan Hanneman, Lasse Moelgaard-Nielsen


Saturday, November 17, 2012

News from Fairbanks

Overall Rankings and Start List for Sunday:

Saturday's results from Fairbanks:
Women's 5Km Classic Technique Mass Start
1. Raphaela Sieber, UAF - 17:05.2;
2. Rebecca Konieczny, UAF - 17:12.5;
3. Marit Rjabov, UAF - 17:28.8;
4. Heather Edic, UAF - 17:30.5;
5. Alyson McPhetres, UAF - 17:31.1;
6. Marine Dusser, UAA - 17:38.2;
7. Heidi Brook, UAF - 17:48.6;
8. Patricia Sprecher, UAA - 17:57.1;
9. Julia Ebner, UAF - 17:59.0;
10. Karina Smith, UAA - 18:04.4;
11. Kryston McPhetres, UAF - 18:24.1;
12. Maya Radonich, UAA - 18:24.7;
13. Theresia Schnurr, UAF - 18:34.8;
14. Crystal Pitney, UAF - 18:38.2;
15. Cara McCulloch, UAA - 18:41.0;
16. Hanna Gillis, West Valley HS - 18:43.6;
17. Sarissa Lammers, ANR - 19:13.6;
18. Ema Mayo, uaffiliated - 20:02.0;
19. Jade Hajdukovitch, Lathrop HS - 20:05.1;
20. Sara Falconer, uaffiliated - 20:28.8;
Men's 7.5Km
1. Logan Hanneman, UAF - 22:16.2;
2. Viktor Braennmark, UAA - 22:19.6;
3. Lasse Moelgaard, UAA - 22:22.0;
4. Tyler Kornfield, UAF - 22:23.2;
5. Jonas Loeffler, UAF - 22:24.6;
6. Lukas Ebner, UAA - 22:25.9;
7. Ian Wilkinson, UAF - 22:32.1;
8. Isaac Lammers, unaffiliated - 22:50.2;
9. Lex Treinen, UAF - 22:53.7;
10. Michael Fehrenbach, UAF - 22:56.7;
11. Max Olex, UAF - 22:58.4;
12. Stefan Hajdukovich, UAF - 23:03.0;
13. Galen Johnston, UAA - 23:12.0;
14. Lars Arneson, UAF - 23:12.5;
14. Davis Dunlap, UAA - 23:12.5;
16. Max Donaldson, NSCF-FXC - 23:33.8;
17. Andrew Arnold, UAF - 23:38.0;
18. Kenneth Brewer, UAF - 23:42.0;
19. Alex Morris, NSCF - 23:53.9;
20. Peter Brewer, ANR - 23:58.5;
21. Riley Troyer, NSCF-FXC - 24:16.8;
22. John Glen, UAA - 24:20.4;
23. Wyatt Mayo, UAF - 24:47.3;
24. Jonathan Koenig, West Valley HS - 24:47.5;
25. Neill Toelle, NSCF-FXC - 25:03.5;
26. Patrick Nugent, FXC - 25:07.0;
27. Brandon Brewster, UAA - 25:20.6;
28. Alex Loan, ANR - 25:25.2;
29. Patrick Terhune, NSCF-FXC - 25:47.5;
30. Tracen Knopp, ANR - 25:53.0;

Note: Just like yesterday, I have only included the top 20 women and top 30 women, but there were 171 finishers today.
Here are a couple pictures that Patricia took during the men's race:
That's Logan Hanneman from UAF, Lasse (102) and Viktor (107) today at the 7km mark.  Doesn't look like they were in too much of a hurry with 500 meters to go to the finish.

Lukas at 7km.

Looks like the boys picked some nice flowers along the race course...

Friday, November 16, 2012

Results! Get your results here!

From this evening's race in Fairbanks:

Team Results:
Overall:  UAF 28, UAA 14 after day one.
UAF women 15, UAA women 6.
UAF men 13, UAA men 8.

Women's 2Km Classic Prologue
1. Rebecca Konieczny, UAF - 6:26.1;
2. Marit Rjabov, UAF - 6:27.6;
3. Alyson McPhetres, UAF - 6:33.9;
4. Raphaela Sieber, UAF - 6:39.1;
5. Theresia Schnurr, UAF - 6:39.3;
6. Heidi Brook, UAF - 6:43.5;
7. Heather Edic, UAF - 6:43.8;
8. Marine Dusser, UAA - 6:49.1;
9. Kryston McPhetres, UAF - 6:51.1;
10. Patricia Sprecher, UAA - 6:51.7;
11. Julia Ebner, UAF - 6:52.3;
12. Crystal Pitney, UAF - 6:53.5;
13. Karina Smith, UAA - 6:57.1;
14. Maya Radonich, UAA - 6:58.8;
15. Cara McCulloch, UAA - 7:12.5;
16. Hanna Gillis, West Valley HS  - 7:14.6;
17. Ema Mayo, uaffiliated - 7:18.5;
18. Sara Falconer, uaffiliated - 7:21.4;
19. Sarissa Lammers, ANR - 7:28.4;
20. Lescinska Grimmer, NSCF-FXC - 7:31.6;

Men's 3Km Classic Prologue:
1. Logan Hanneman, UAF - 8:32.8;
2. Lasse Moelgaard, UAA - 8:47.7;
3. Tyler Kornfield, UAF - 8:49.3;
4. Jonas Loeffler, UAF - 8:49.7;
5. Max Olex, UAF - 8:50.4;
6. Lukas Ebner, UAA - 8:53.5;
7. Viktor Braennmark, UAA - 8:54.3;
8. Michael Fehrenbach, UAF - 8:57.3;
9. Ian Wilkinson, UAF - 8:59.0;
10. Isaac Lammers, unaffiliated - 9:01.3;
11. Lars Arneson, UAF - 9:07.2;
12. Davis Dunlap, UAA - 9:08.7;
13. Galen Johnston, UAA - 9:12.9;
14. Andrew Arnold, UAF - 9:18.7;
15. Stefan Hajdukovich, UAF - 9:19.0;
16. Kenneth Brewer, UAF - 9:19.3;
17. Riley Troyer, NSCF-FXC - 9:20.2;
18. Max Donaldson, NSCF-FXC - 9:31.3;
19. Alex Morris, NSCF - 9:34.1;
20. Peter Brewer, ANR - 9:34.9;
21. John Glen, UAA - 9:37.6;
22. Patrick Terhune, NSCF-FXC - 9:39.6;
23. Wyatt Mayo, UAF - 9:44.1;
24. Neill Toelle, NSCF-FXC - 9:47.9;
25. David McPhetres, ANR - 10:00.5;
26. Alex Loan, ANR - 10:09.4;
27. Tracen Knopp, ANR - 10:12.0;
28. Brandon Brewster, UAA - 10:13.2;
29. Dave Edic, NSCF - 10:23.7;
30. Tristan Sayre, West Valley HS - 10:29.2;
Notes:  There were 63 women in the race, but I have only included the top 20 because all the college women finished within the top 20.  Same with the men; there were 74 entered, but I have only included the top 30.
Tomorrow's race is a classic mass start event.  Very cold temperatures are predicted.  UAA team staff will make a decision in the morning whether to race if they feel it's so cold as to be unhealthy for the athletes.  But as of tonight, the UAA Ski Team is going to bed with plans of waking up in the morning and going racing!


The temperature at Birch Hill is -2.7F; warm enough to race.  I just checked the webcam and saw a ski racer on course with 30 meters to the finish line.  So it looks like we're racing.  Results later...

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Tävlingspremiär om 19 timmar och 56 min

In a couple hours, the UAA Ski Team will board an Alaska Airlines jet and fly to Fairbanks for their first three races of the year, the Goldstream Sports Tour de Ski.  The schedule of events includes a short "prologue" race on Friday evening; 2km for women / 3km for men.  Saturday morning is a classic individual start race, and Sunday is a pursuit skate race. 

Fairbanks is a cold place during the winter.  Located among rolling hills in the center of Alaska, the temperature is normally quite cold, and can sometimes be extremely cold.  They tend to get very little wind when high-pressure systems sit over central Alaska, so the cold air settles down into the low spots and the tops of the hills remain far warmer than the valleys below.  The town of Fairbanks is in the Chena River valley while the Birch Hill nordic ski trails are located several hundred feet above town on Birch Hill. It is often 20 degrees warmer at Birch Hill than it is in downtown Fairbanks!

This weekend, cold weather is predicted, and this cold weather is likely to impact the races.  The International Ski Federation (FIS) has a rule that FIS-sanctioned races are not allowed at temperatures colder than -20C.  According to the weather forecast, temperatures on Friday evening should be somewhere in the range of -20C.  On Saturday and Sunday, the temperature is predicted to be significantly colder than -20C.  This means that there is a good possibility that the prologue race will be able to be held on Friday evening, but the chances are pretty slim that Saturday's and Sunday's races will be able to be held under FIS rules.  If it is colder than -20C but warmer than -25C, the ski club plans to hold the races anyway, but no FIS points will be scored. 

Whether the UAA Ski Team gets to race three races, one race, or no races, the trip should at least be a good opportunity to get lots of kilometers of skiing on excellent snow conditions.  Fairbanks has plenty of snow.  We have been training on thin snow and no tracks for the past couple of weeks.  This weekend should provide a good "training camp" environment, regardless of whether our skiers are able to race any races or not. 

You can follow the events on the web at:

You can follow the weather at Birch Hill Ski Area and see the stadium webcam at:

Check back for more updates here.  I'm not going to Fairbanks, but I'll post whatever news I hear...

(PS. You get "extra credit" if you know where I got the title for this blog post)

Skapa en egen nedräknare gratis -

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

"Birthplace of the Winds"

Disclaimer: The following post has nothing to do with the UAA Ski Team:
(Check back later in the week for more UAA Ski Team news from our first races in Fairbanks.)
How to pack for trip to Saint Paul Island:
1. Bring lots of books and lots of foul-weather gear.
2. Bring patience and curiosity, because you'll see things here that you can't see anywhere else.
3. Bring lots 'o money, because nothing's cheap.

A couple days ago I got on an airplane, flew out to the Pribilof Islands in the middle of the Bering Sea, and landed on Saint Paul Island. I had one hour's worth of work to do, but needed to stay overnight to catch the next plane back to Anchorage.  Just as I knew it would, a storm came rolling in behind me, so now I've spent the past couple days marooned on this island in the Pacific Ocean.  Winds have been gusting to around 60-70 mph, but that's pretty common around here.  In some places they call this kind of weather a hurricane, but here it's called "Tuesday".
It's pretty easy to spot Saint Paul Island - It's marked by that big red letter "L".
Saint Paul Island is a basically a four-mile-long sand dune in the middle of the Bering Sea.  When you fly in, it'll look like this:

But don't be fooled; it doesn't stay this way for long. This area has been called "Birthplace of the Winds" because of the strong storms that blow through on a regular basis.  So I've been stuck here for a couple days, and I'm hoping the weather will calm down enough for the plane to come in tomorrow.  But if not, I'll find plenty to do if I have to stay a few more days.  Saint Paul Island has beautiful beaches and about 500,000 fur seals, which have their rookeries on Saint Paul Island's beaches.  Today I attempted to go out for a 1-hour run, but ended up coming home 2.5 hours later because there is so much cool stuff to see out there, including all those fur seals as well as some enormous waves. 

That wave is bigger than it looks; I took the picture from a high cliff with full telephoto...
Reminder:  First UAA Ski Team race is on Friday in Fairbanks.  More info here:

Monday, November 12, 2012

Let the trash-talking begin

Things are starting to get busy for the UAA Ski Team.  The alpine team is at training camp in Colorado this week, and the nordic team begins their racing season this coming weekend in Fairbanks in our annual grudge match against the "other" University of Alaska ski team - UAF.  This past weekend, the team held its annual ski swap, where people can buy and sell used winter sports gear, and the UAA Ski Team and Alyeska Ski Club gets a percentage of the profits.  It's a big fundraiser for the team.

However, I've had to miss a lot of the action lately because I've been bouncing around western Alaska for work, trying (unsuccessfully) to avoid storms that keep the planes grounded.  In fact, as I write this, I'm marooned in a storm on an island in the Pacific, and I'm now being told I won't be able to leave here until Wednesday at the earliest. 

I asked some of the team members how the ski swap went over the weekend since I wasn't able to be there to help out.  A couple of the skiers on the team responded, "It was a big success - there were only two items left over that didn't sell:  an old pair of boots and a UAF Ski Team hat that nobody wanted even though the price was only $1."  They even sent me pictures:

...So I guess the gauntlet has been thrown down.

By the way, here's a link to this weekend's races in Fairbanks:

Monday, November 5, 2012

Three Days

Saturday:  Skiing at Glen Alps above Anchorage.  Classic skiing on thin snow cover and no set tracks, it was a good opportunity to work on balance and coordination.


Lucky doing some no-pole skiing

John, Davis, Marine, Karina

Practice is over for the day

Mt. McKinley, 140 miles north. Anchorage in the foreground.
Sunday:  No UAA team practice today.  Danielle and I decided to drive north to Nancy Lakes for some ice skating.  The conditions were really good.


Monday. A real no-nonsense workout - grab the ski poles and run uphill for an hour or so:

The warm-down