This time last year when temperatures were still in the 40s and there wasn't any snow yet, not many people were out shopping for skis and other winter gear.
However, this year with the weather a little closer to "normal," plenty of people are in the market for winter gear, and as such, the annual Sports Swap at Kenai Central High School on Saturday was bustling with business.
"We're getting hammered, but this is the place to do it," said Chell Atchley of Kenai. He was there shopping with his two sons, 5-year-old Ean and 9-year-old Evan.
"We're looking for just about everything cross country skis, hockey skates and the guys want snowboards," Atchley said.
The Sports Swap had all of the above in a variety of brands and sizes, and also bikes, helmets, winter clothing and several pieces of exercise equipment.
After briefly perusing what was available, Atchley found most of the items on his family's list and at what he thought was a fair price.
"We were able to get a snowboard, boots and everything in one package. It was expensive, but we still saved a lot compared to buying it new," he said. "We also found skates for only $20, and you can't beat that price."
Atchley also was pleased with the service the KCHS ski team members working the event were able to provide. Not only did the ski team set up the gear for the event, but they made themselves available to answer questions from potential buyers.
"We didn't know a lot about (the gear), but some of the people were very helpful," he said.
Kathy French of Soldotna was a first-timer at the Sports Swap, and also liked what she saw. She and her son found a pair of Rossignol skate skis.
"I think it's a good deal for the kids," French said. "My son Eddie just joined the ski team at SoHi, and I don't want to put a lot of money into it until I'm sure he likes it.
"With the activity fees canceled out, the kids need as much help as they can get so parents don't have to fork out as much," she said.
Raising money for the KCHS ski team is one of two primary reasons for holding the event, according to Joann Hagen. She has a daughter on the ski team and has helped organize the Sports Swap for the last four years.
"It's a fund-raiser for the school," Hagen said. "The money goes to pay expenses for ski meets and helps buy wax. This year we're hoping to raise enough for an assistant coach, because the school has reduced funding for sports."
As to the second reason for the event, Hagen said, "It also serves the community, to get them into winter sports without a huge expense. Buying used things makes it a little easier."
Hagen said in years past, the event has raised between $500 and $1,000 for the team.
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