Weather hasn't rained on skiing parade

Posted: Friday, January 23, 2004

Despite a little bit of warm, wet weather, cross-country ski trails on the Kenai Peninsula are holding up well.

On top of that, several trails should be in prime shape this weekend as they are being groomed for competitions.

"It's fine skiing," said Kenai Central High School cross-country coach Dave Feeken of the Kenai Nordic Trails at Kenai Golf Course. "It's 70 degrees warmer than it was a week ago.

"We're grooming it every day. It's perfect."

The Kardinals will host a classic-style meet Saturday. Feeken said groomers probably wouldn't put in fresh classic tracks until Friday, but asked that those using the Kenai Nordic Trails respect the tracks before the meet.

"It's plenty wide for people to skate beside the track," Feeken said.

At Tsalteshi Trails, Bill Holt said he was hoping to drag out the trails before the weekend, but didn't want to do too much until the temperature cooled off.

"The trails didn't change much during the cold spell, but right now, they're getting soft," Holt said.

Holt said groomers had spent some time working on the area near Skyview High School in preparation for ski classes for fourth- through sixth-graders being conducted by two-time Olympian Joan Miller.

The classes, which meet Thursdays and Fridays from 4:15 to 5:15 p.m., began this week. Anyone interested in participating that hasn't already registered should contact Soldotna Comm-unity Schools at 262-6768 as soon as possible.

"It's great having lots of snow," Holt said. "Hopefully we'll get a chance to drag them out smooth again for the weekend. If we get some new snow, that will be a real plus."

Across the Sterling Highway at the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, trails were reported to be in nice shape as of Tuesday, with a layer of fresh snow over a good base, making for fine conditions both for skiing and snowshoeing. Despite high winds earlier this week, there have not been many reports of debris on the trails, though the trails themselves are windblown in some spots.

In Homer, Dave Brann of the Kachemak Nordic Ski Club reported that the Baycrest trails had been all groomed out then it got up to 38 degrees.

Things are holding up well, though, and Brann said that groomers have been focusing on the McNeil Canyon trails which host a Besh Cup competition Saturday and Sunday.

"Practice tracks will be set Friday morning," Brann said.

With McNeil Canyon getting all the groomers' attention, Brann said Lookout Mountain hadn't been attended to this week.

Also on the schedule for Homer is the annual Wine and Cheese Tour, which will take place on the Baycrest trail system Feb. 14, starting from the Diamond Ridge trail head.

At the other end of the peninsula, Seward also is getting some warm temperatures and mixed precipitation.

"We've got plenty of snow, so it's holding up well," said Seward High School ski coach Rich Houghton.

The Polar Bear Jump ski and skijor races have been rescheduled for this weekend at Exit Glacier Road.

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