My Mom, Dad, sister, two dogs and I all piled into the truck and road tripped down south last Friday. Besh Cup races 3 and 4 are always held somewhere south of Anchorage, alternating between Soldotna and Homer. No offense to any Soldotnites out there, but I really like it when the races are in Homer. It’s usually warm, sunny, gorgeous and a welcome ski vacation! While this year’s ‘warm’ temperatures were around 15ºF with a chilly breeze, they easily beat out the subzero temps that everyone was escaping from. Average temps last week were -30º in Fairbanks, and -10º in Anchorage. It was actually a convenient time to be recovering from a cold because intensity sessions were getting cancelled or postponed left and right! I did a lot of really easy classic skiing alongside brilliant clear sunsets… it wasn’t too bad considering. But I digress. The Besh Cup weekend was just what the doctor ordered- fun racing, lots of sleep, and amazing scenery.
Conveniently, APU and FXC all stayed in the same hotel out on the spit. I hadn’t ever stayed in the Land’s End before, and I was pretty impressed! It seems that some places in really unique locations like that will just rest on their laurels, assuming that the perfection of their view will make up for any shortcomings. The Land’s End did no such thing, providing skier specific discounts at their restaurant and comfortably quirky and clean rooms. I got a huge kick out of my bed folding down from the wall, and loved the little breakfast nook in my parents’ room. We were able to all wax in a conference room with wall-to-wall tarps on the floor, along with almost every visiting team. The Winter Stars also took advantage of the hotel, which made the whole situation even more fun. It was almost like a JOs atmosphere without the exclusivity.
The races were held on trails that I had never seen before, up on top of the ridge north of town. The venue was very unique, from the giant gong to the quadruple-switchback downhills. It was super exciting to check out a new place to ski, and the races were quite fun. Homer’s relatively cold temperatures and wind made racing deceptively difficult. The trails were not rocket-fast, and the quantity of snow caused the snowmachine grooming to get a little punchy. On top of that, the courses had surprisingly little rest due to the winding downhills. The races were not exactly the quick-twitch finesse contest that I had expected, and instead had quite a bit of continuous effort.
The view from the trails left nothing do be desired: see the photo at top. That’s Redoubt, the volcano responsible for a few ash-falls in the last couple of years. It looks like it’s just right across the water! (well… it is right across the water). The drive down was absolutely gorgeous as well–
And it looks like skiers figured that out a while ago. The spit itself was spectacular on Saturday evening. The ice and the water reflected all the colors of the sunset in a chilled yet vibrant spectrum, as recorded by Bert Boyer: