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Good skiing can still be found

Posted: Friday, March 29, 2002

With grass slowly starting to reveal itself in some areas, and snow staunchly staying put in others, the Kenai Peninsula right now is firmly entrenched between winter and summer.

This Saturday, Homer will pay its annual homage to this transitional state with the Sea-to-Ski Triathlon, an event that starts with athletes running on city streets and ends with them skiing in the hills high above Homer.

Specifically, the first leg of the triathlon is a 3.5-mile run from Mariner Park on the Homer Spit to West Homer Elementary.

Next is a 4.2-mile bike ride from the elementary school up West Hill and across Highland and Spruce drives to the Baycrest Ski Trails on Roger's Loop.

Finally, athletes do a 3.1-mile ski on the Homestead Loop and arrive at the trail head at the Department of Transportation station on the Sterling Highway.

Linda Watson, a member of the Kachemak Bay Nordic Ski Club, said Baycrest is in excellent shape for the event. Not only is the Homestead Loop in good shape, but Watson said about 25 kilometers total is making for great skating.

Athletes can do the Sea-to-Ski Triathlon in teams, or alone. Registration will be from 10 a.m. to noon on race day at the gazebo at Mariner Park. The entry fee is $5 per participant, with a $10 entry fee after noon.

All bicyclists must wear helmets, and there will be a required race meeting at 12:30 p.m. before the race starts at 1 p.m. For more information, call Dave or Molly Brann at 235-6018.

Elsewhere on the peninsula, the skiing is still hanging on.

Out in Nikiski, Karen Kester, the recreation director for the North Peninsula Recreation Service Area, said both the Nikiski Community Trails and the trails behind the Nikiski pool were groomed early in the week.

The trails behind the pool offer about 3 kilometers of classical skiing. They are mostly flat, with some hills that may challenge beginners.

At the Nikiski Community Trails, which are located at Nikiski Middle-Senior High School, 5 kilometers are ready for skating. These trails are hilly, with parts that may challenge beginning and intermediate skiers.

The reports also are good from the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge.

"The refuge headquarters cross-country ski trails are still in good condition," said Dave Kenagy, a ranger, in a written statement. "The best time for skiing is before temperatures go above freezing, usually by early afternoon."

The Nordic Lake Trails all were groomed Thursday for classical skiing. These trails consist of four loops, with the longest being 6 miles. These trails have some hills that may challenge beginning and intermediate skiers.

The Overlook Routes were last groomed two weeks ago. These trails consist of two loops, with the longest being 2 miles. These trails are most suitable for snowshoers at this time.

Kenagy also mentioned that the refuge is seeking volunteers to help upgrade the ski trails this summer. Those interested in helping can contact Kenagy at 260-6163.

At the Kenai Nordic Trails, located on the Kenai Golf Course, the skiing also is holding up nicely. Dave Feeken, a groomer there, said the trails would be groomed today for the weekend.

"From what I've been hearing, it's been good skiing in the afternoon when it softens up," Feeken said. "It'll be a little icy in the morning, but when the sun hits it, it'll soften up."

This time of year, the golf course can be a good place to go for a flat, leisurely ski. Since there are not a lot of trees at the golf course, it's also a good place to soak up sun. There are about 7 kilometers there ready for skating. Although the course is mostly flat, there are a few hills there that may challenge beginners.

Finally, Penny McClain, a member of the Tsalteshi Trails Association, gave rave reviews to the skiing at Tsalteshi Trails Wednesday. The trails are located behind Skyview High School.

All of the 11 kilometers at the trails were groomed for skating Wednesday. They also will probably be groomed for the weekend. These trails offer skiing for all levels.

McClain reminded the public that as long as there is good snow cover, no walking, running or dogs are allowed on the ski trails.



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