Dave Michael, right, and his son Luke cross-country ski under new lights at Tsalteshi Trails last weekend. Work continues on the project to brighten the trails for nighttime use.
Photo by M. Scott Moon
Arctic Winter Games participants arrive in just a few days, and event organizers say area facilities are ready to greet the young athletes.
“Everything is ready to go,” said Andrew Carmichael, facilities and logistics chairman for the Soldotna Sports Center.
The center, which will be the focal point of many events during the Games, features an 85-by-195- foot ice rink that is maintained by two ice resurfacers one primary and one backup.
In addition to the rink, there are four team rooms, two locker rooms, a first aid room and a referees room that can, and likely, will be utilized during the Games.
“The new scoreboards are also in,” Carmichael said, as is the new electric marquee out front.
With the facilities and equipment in place, Carmichael said the biggest challenge now will be setting up and breaking down the multiple events.
“We’ve got the opening ceremonies here, the figure skating event, speed skating and hockey,” he said.
“It’s easy to set up for one event, but more difficult to set up for several different events,” Carmichael said.
As an example, Carmichael cited how the different events require different markings on the ice and also different ice temperatures.
“We’ll alter the ice between events. The ice needs to be a little warmer for figure skating than for speed skating and hockey,” he said.
Carmichael said this is important because if the ice is too cold, it becomes too brittle, and if that happens “when they jump and land, the ice can shatter right out from under them,” he said.
The Kenai Multipurpose Facility and the Homer Ice Facility also are scheduled to hold events during the Games, but calls to these facilities were not returned.
In addition to the indoor progress at the sports center, outdoor progress to prepare for events at Tsalteshi Trials is moving according to schedule.
“In regard to the trials, which is what I can speak to, things are going great,” said Bill Holt, facilities chairman of the trail board.
Tsalteshi will be ground zero for several events during the Games, including cross-country skiing, the ski biathlon and the snowshoe biathlon.
The trails for the Games are 15 kilometers in length and consist of five intertwined loops.
Holt said the trails have all been widened as needed for the Games, and that the required lighting has been installed.
“The lighting project has been a big project that a lot of people have taken part in,” he said.
“We got the required light fixtures, and we’re hoping to install more, beyond what is required, this week,” he added.
Holt said he is hoping to trim a few more trees along the trail to allow for more natural light, as well.
As far as the trails themselves, Holt said they are in great shape.
“The trails are ready to go. We had done a good job with the conditions we had, but this snow (which fell last week and over the weekend) is also helping things along.”
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