Tsalteshi ski race hangs in limbo

Organizers say event will have to be canceled if more don't sign up

Posted: Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The race director of the Cross Country Alaska Championship Race said he thinks people are waiting until the last minute to sign up for the Saturday race at Tsalteshi Trails, which are located behind Skyview High School.

Potential racers better not wait much longer, or there won't be a race.

Pat King, race director and vice chair of the Tsalteshi Trails Association, said the race will be held only if there are 30 or more people signed up by Wednesday night. As of Monday night, there were just five racers signed up.

"I'd hate to mobilize all the volunteers for just a few people," King said. "I'm kind of thinking people are waiting until the last minute to see how conditions hold out."

King said the trails made it through the warm, wet spell of early March in good shape. He said groomer Bill Holt worked hard early in the year creating a good base. That base has helped groomers like Tom Seggerman this week.

"I talked to Tom and he said they were in really good shape and that he's been grooming all week," King said. "When it warmed up, we couldn't groom for a week because it never froze at night. Now that it's getting cold at night, we're able to groom."

The forecast through Saturday has temperatures dipping into the teens at night, which is cold enough to keep the trails in good shape.

Cross Country Alaska has a mission, according to its Web site, to create and support a cross-country skiing culture and environment that allows Alaska cross-country ski racers to succeed at regional, national and international competitions.

Saturday's race is open to all ages. All races are in the mass start freestyle format. King said classical skiing will be allowed, but there will be no tracks set.

Those born in 1987 and earlier will do 30 kilometers, those born from 1988 to 1991 will do 15 kilometers, those born from 1992 to 1995 will do 5 kilometers, those born from 1996 to 1999 will do 3 kilometers and those born in 2000 and later will do 1 kilometer.

While King said he hopes some good high school racers will show up, he also said the race is being held so adults from the community can come out and get in a long ski. The 30-kilometer race will be two complete loops around the trails. King said the race fits with the mission of the Tsalteshi Trails Association.

"We're trying to get the community more involved in racing and just skiing on the trails," King said. "We had the skills series, where we were teaching people every Sunday, and we had the Tuesday night races. It wasn't very well-attended, but the people there liked it."

The fee for those registering Wednesday or before is $20. Late registration will be accepted Friday at the Skyview commons at 6 p.m. Racers registering late will pay $25. For further questions about late registration or the race, contact King at 283-0580 or 398-6395.

The race starts at 11 a.m. Registration is available at www.crosscountryalaska.org. All proceeds go to the Tsalteshi Trails Association.

"I've heard local people have said, 'I plan on skiing it,' but they're not registered," King said. "I'm thinking a lot of local people plan on showing up, that's why I want to work hard to have it."

King said crosscountryalaska.org will announce on Thursday if the race is canceled.

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