Fairbanks, December 10, 2005
Just as they did in the first race of the Flint Hills Resources Town Race Series, a mass-start skating race, the UAF Nanook Ski Team dominated the results in the Beaver Sports Classic Sprint at Birch Hill, a race they hadn’t planned on entering.
UAF had been scheduled to be racing in Anchorage on Saturday, but UAA Coach Trond Flagstad called UAF Coach Scott Jerome on Thursday to let him know that Anchorage’s snow situation was heading south in a hurry and that UAF should not come down. With no racing down south, it was off to Birch Hill for the sprints for the UAF skiers.
Because of time constraints, no qualifying round was held, and all the skiers were seeded into heats. The Nordic Ski Club of Fairbanks race crew didn’t turn a watch on the entire day.
The race was the first classic sprint ever held at Birch Hill, and used the new classic sprint course which had had its debut in the SuperTour Season Opener on November 7 in a free technique sprint. This race used the 975m (women’s) version of the course as opposed to the 1375m (men’s) version of the course. Men’s times were around 2:10, and women were about 20-30 seconds slower.
The course starts with about 130m of flat double-poling, then climbs about 28m over the next 300m before making a sharp left turn, descending a mildly technical downhill, then tucking down a straight hill before double-poling the last 90m-100m. If you wanted to win, you had to be first, or very close to the front, at the high point of the course.
Temperatures hung in the mid-20’s Fahrenheit/-5C throughout the event. Most skiers were in the warm blue/multigrade/violet range in the warm, humid conditions.
As do all Town Race Series events, this one started off with elementary and junior high races. All the elementary skiers did a 500m course. The Kindergarten-First-Second Grade classes took up nearly all of the scheduled five minutes between classes, but by the time the Fifth-Sixth graders went, there was plenty of time to watch the race and then relax for a couple of minutes before the start of the next group. Junior high skiers went 700m and provided very exciting races.
The high school and adult skiers were placed in three brackets: High School and Adult Women, High School and University Men, and Adult and Masters Men. Each bracket had four quarterfinals, two semifinals and â€œAâ€ and â€œBâ€ finals.
UAF’s Division II All-America cross country runner, Pavla Havlova (CZE), won her quarterfinal, held back a little in the semifinal, finishing second behind freshman teammate Julia Coulter (Traverse City, MI), and then smoked the field in the final, winning cleanly by several meters over another UAF freshman, Elisabeth Habermann (Soldotna, AK). Coulter was third in the final, after double-poling past 45-year-old former Nanook Karin Gillis, NSC Fairbanks, (fourth place) in the last 50 meters. Adele Mery of West Valley was the top high school skier, placing fifth in the â€œAâ€ final ahead of UAF assistant coach Ingrid Olson, UAF redshirt freshman Anna Coulter (Traverse City, MI), and former Nanook Maria Bray.
West Valley’s Becca Rorabaugh, who won the â€œBâ€ final, was the second-best high school skier, and Jessica Kazmierczak (Eielson HS/Salcha SC) was third-best among the high school skiers, placing third in the â€œBâ€ final.
UAF Junior Bart Dengel (Valdez, AK) won cleanly in each round of the High School/University Men’s bracket. He had a very comfortable margin in the â€œAâ€ final to win the overall title ahead of UAF teammates, sophomore Marius Korthauer (GER), Tyson Flaharty (Fairbanks, AK), and Jonas Tetlie (NOR). Lathrop HS freshman David Norris was next, ahead of his sophomore teammate Reese Hanneman, UAF’s Erik Wickstrom (SWE), and Lathrop senior Karl Schauer.
Lathrop HS had six skiers ahead of West Valley’s top male skier, and had seven skiers ahead of West Valley’s second skier.
One of Fairbanks’ top distance runners, and this year’s Equinox Marathon Champion Mike Kramer (30-39 class) won the Adult/Masters class â€œAâ€ Final, coming in with a comfortable margin over Lathrop HS Coach Jim Lokken (40-49 class). Alaska distance-skiing legend and multiple Iditaski Champion Bob Baker, (40-49) who is preparing for the Masters’ World Championships in Italy, was third, ahead of UAF Student Christian Lejon (SWE), and UAF cross country runner Harald Aas (NOR).
The next race in the series will be an interval start classic race (7.5km for women, 10km for men) on January 14.