As the last classic skier from a pack of hippies, pigs and other creatures took off up the hill behind Skyview High School late Sunday morning, peppy music blasted from nearby speakers and a voice behind her cried out, "That's the way, uh-huh, uh-huh, I like it."
The music and the cheering continued as skiers of all ages raced around Tsalteshi Trails in the three events that made up the seventh She Can Ski: a five-kilometer classic race, a five-kilometer skate race and a drag race, in that order.
When Gigi Banas finished the classic race in just under 29 minutes, Soldotna Mayor Peter Micciche congratulated her on her performance.
"Your coconuts seem to have held up nicely, Gigi," Micciche said over the loudspeaker.
Banas wasn't the only one in festive attire.
The team that won both races, Carly Reimer and Maranda Merkes, said they put together their outfits based on what they could find that was matching. One contributed multicolored socks, the other jerseys. They used tutus that they had made for the Soldotna High School ski team. Reimer is a coach for the team, while Merkes skis for the Stars.
Both said the skiing, not just getting dressed up, was fun.
"They're awesome today," Reimar said of the trails.
Merkes agreed, but said it was "definitely cold."
Tutus were something of a trend at the event this year.
Soldotna Middle School skier Moira Pyhala and a teammate wore purple tutus over their leggings, and said they were there with the rest of their team to participate in the skate ski race.
Pyhala accessorized with a boa. Where did her outfit come from?
"I found this in the closet," she said.
Robin Nyce, who organized the race along with Brenda Dale and Susan Seggerman, wore a grass skirt in lieu of a tutu.
She said the event was meant to be fun, and costumes are always encouraged.
She and a group of organizers and participants wore Hawaiian garb, with grass skirts and coconut tops over their winter gear.
They've been dressing up every year she said, recalling past costumes: clowns, cows and more.
Nyce said they time the races and have prizes and a winner, but plenty of people just show up to enjoy themselves.
"It's just fun," she said.
The race serves as a fundraiser for the Tsalteshi Trail Association and the LeeShore Center. Nyce helped start the race after attending the Ski for Women in Anchorage and having a blast.
Although the race was mostly for women, a few men showed up to enjoy the festivities. They had a race of their own.
"Drag queens, let's head for the starting line," cried Micciche after most of the skate skiers finished.
Tony Oliver waited at the start line for the very last race sporting a three-pointed, bubble-gum pink hat, pink fishnet stockings and a tiara. It was his first time at the ski event, but his princess outfit had weathered 22 triathalons and some snowshoe baseball games at Fur Rondy, he said.
The drag race was just another "opportunity to dress up and be a little wild and crazy," he said.
He also wanted to support the causes that benefited from the proceeds.
"The trail association and these folks deserve kudos," he said.
She Can Ski 5k Races
Sunday at Tsalteshi Trails
2 Friends Classic: 1, Carly Reimer, 20:44.8; 2, Maranda Merkes, 20:45.3; 3, Olivia Pfeifer, 24:08.3; 4, Caitlyn Louthan, 30:10.7; 5, Patty Moran, 30:39.8 ; 6, Sarah Bressler, 30:58.8; 7, Carolyn Knackstedt, 30:59.1; 8, Olivia Fair, 30:59.7; 9, Chelsea Springer. 31:00.0; 10, Connie Ferguson, 31:21.6; 11, Danica Schmidt, 47:14.7; 12, Kristine Moerlein, 52:52.4; 13, Colleen Sinnott, 52:52.7; 14, Jane Handy, 52:53.0; 15, Carol Marsh, 52:55.0; 16, Marina Bosick, 52:55.7; 17, Katie Blossom, 52:57.1; 18, Gretchen Kraus, 55:48.0; 19, Meggean Bos, 56:06.0; 20, Angie Brennan, 56:29.9.
2 Relatives Classic: 1, Courtney Pillifant, 24:47.5; 2, Sadie Fox, 27:24.6; 3, Heidi Chay, 46:03.7; 4, Debbi Palm, 46:04.1; 5, Eve Downing, 48:29.6; 6, Michelle Downing, 48:51.0; 7, Kristin Morrow, 49:42.1; 8, Grace Morrow, 49:42.4; 9, Michelle Blackwell, 51:26.6; 10, Cameron Blackwell, 51:26.9.
2 Friends Skate: 1, Maranda Merkes, 17:41.5; 2, Carly Reimer, 17:41.7; 3, Vanessa Anderson, 20:08.5; 4, Eve Ferguson, 20:08.8; 5, Charlotte Harvy, 21:07.8; 6, Patty Moran, 25:40.8; 7, Courtney Stroh, 25:41.1; 8, Gail Moore, 25:58.8; 9, Connie Ferguson, 27:17.2; 10, Makayla George, 27:21.4; 11, Megan English, 30:15.5; 12, Haley Ames, 38:53.0; 13, Moira Pyhala, 39:02.6.
2 Relatives Skate: 1, Sadie Fox, 25:32.7; 2, Laura Pillifant, 39:02.9.
Individual Classic: 1, Annalise Theisen, 24:43.7; 2, Hannah Pothast, 27:24.9; 3, Gigi Banas, 28:49.4; Michelle Klabel, 30:59.4; 5, Ali Wykis, 31:59.9; 6, Carmen Stephel, 39:19.7; 7, Emily Werner, 39:23.2; 8, Jennifer Joanis, 40:45.2; 9, Mary Ellen Summer, 40:47.5; 10, Kim Fields, 41:01.3; 11, Kelli Stroh, 41:02.6; 12, Heidi George, 44:15.1; 13, Lynn Dusek, 44:25.6; 14, JoEllen Fowler, 52:53.3; 15, Amanda Painter, 52:56.3.
Individual Skate: 1, Laura Mohorchich, 21:33.9; 2, Jessica Summer, 22:58.5; 3, Kenda Blanning, 24:39.6; 4, Janet Arneson, 25:33.0; 5, Sara Hepner, 26:07.0; 6, Sue Seggerman, 26:41.2; 7, Connie Best, 26:57.4; 8, Madeline Michaud, 30:15.1; 9, Ali Dusek, 30:16.6; 10, Taylor Gilmore, 30:17.0; 11, Gigi Banas, 38:52.3; 12, Annalise Sayman, 38:52.7; 13, Sheilah-Margaret Pothast, 45:52.9.
Drag 5K: 1, Intimayo Harbison, 10:24.6; 2, Eric Nyce, 11:06.3; 3, Tony Oliver, 14:34.0. Did not finish with an official time: Michael Penland, Bud Sparks and Dan Harbison.
Molly Dischner can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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