Qanik Challenge Report – 2016

The first leg of the Qanik Challenge was held today on the very fast Mineral Creek Nordic Trails. Temps in the upper 20’s and a slight breeze down the valley made for perfect race conditions, Good to see so many locals going the distance in the difficult Classic division. Big Kudos to the VHS Buccaners for going outside the “box” with the challenging distance alongside university athletes. With “Skyline” in the mix this year, the hilly trail lived up to its expectations as one of the sweetest nordic courses in Alaska as skiers were challenged with the long thigh burn at race pace to the top of  Skyline right off the get-go.  In less than a blink thighs were pushed to their limit in luge-like conditions on the twisty descent, not once, but multiple times. Having Alaska Pacific University skiers in the race today will help spread the word that Valdez has a competitive course that’s fun! 36 racer are entered. The event competes with the Besh Cup Series around the state which is prestigious for a variety of age classifications and qualifying for National and International races such as the Arctic Winter Games. With next week’s race in Homer, that’s a lot of travel.

The  freestyle race is being held on the flats along Glacier Stream on Sunday. Not sure the reasoning for a flat venue as most, if not all, competitive XC races include hills. Besides, it’s boring to spectators. It would have been better to have regroomed Mineral Creek for a freestyle race, perhaps reversing the classic direction around the loops. It would provide exciting and fast racing over and down hills with active pursuits and more strategy. Also, it would be easier/cheaper for logistics.

There is a Skate Technique class offered for free by Alaskan and US Olympian Holly Brooks at 3pm at the college. We should all be so lucky!

Here’s a few pictures from today from along the sidelines…