The Region III cross-country skiing championship will kick off today with classic races, but the field will be two teams short while road maintenance crews deal with winter conditions on the Seward Highway.
Skiers from Grace Christian High School and Seward High School are expected to get to Homer for Saturday’s competition after the Seward Highway is reopened sometime today.
Competition for the rest of the region teams begins today at 12:30 p.m., with 7.5-kilometer girls and 10-kilometer boys classic races at McNeil Canyon in Homer. The event concludes with Saturday’s skate races, scheduled to start at 11 a.m. The girls race is 5-kilometers, and the boys will go 7.5 kilometers.
While some teams have been challenged by the weather just to make it to the meet, the forecasted weather for Homer warm with a chance of rain will make for challenging conditions for skiers on the trails.
“It should be really challenging, if it’s warm and raining, for figuring out our kick wax,” said Skyview coach Kent Peterson.
The classic race will feature another twist a mass start.
“They’re going to have to do it at state, so we wanted to practice it once,” Peterson said.
In the girls competition, the host Mariners have been the team to beat in the region this year.
“I think (the girls) are definitely hoping to win regions. They have a good shot,” Homer coach Emily Chenel told the Homer News.
Other teams are skiing with confidence, though. Kendra Merkes of Skyview and Soldotna’s Lianna Purugganan had strong finishes at last week’s borough meet, and the Kenai girls were able to take the team title with Homer’s top skiers in Fairbanks for the Besh Cup series.
“In my opinion, they got some confidence in themselves,” said Kenai assistant coach D’Anna Gibson. “We have a pretty young team this year. I think it will be good for them to go in there and see what they need to do over the next couple of years.”
On the boys side, the meet could come down to Colony and Kenai, though Peterson sees his team in the top three as well.
“They’re looking forward to getting to Homer, skiing against all the other teams and seeing how they stack up. I think they’re psyched for it,” said Gibson.
“We had a race earlier this season at Skyview with basically the same schools that are coming this weekend. At that time, we had two boys just a bit on the ill side. With them being well, I think we have a good shot at taking this.”
Christopher Hall, Trent Semmens and Kyle Latz have led the Kardinals this season.
Erick Romig leads the Skyview boys team along with Tommy Honer and Taylor Karnikis, and from Soldotna, Max Milliron, Eddie French and Caleb Chase have been skiing well.
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