Normally, when one goes looking for a change of pace, the intent is to slow down for a little while.
But changes in the format of the Skyview Invitational cross-country ski meet had skiers doing just the opposite -- picking up the pace for a series of 1-kilometer freestyle sprint races instead of the usual 5-kilometer competitions.
"It was a lot of fun -- I've never really done sprints like that before," said Soldotna's Rachel Goldstein, the fourth-place finisher in Saturday's girls super final. "It was a lot of fun to do something different."
Under the sprint format, skiers competed in a preliminary race under torchlight Friday night, then were seeded into heats of eight or nine skiers for class competition in Saturday's first round of races. The top skiers in each heat advanced to the four class finals, from which the top skier, plus the next four fastest skiers, advanced to the super final to compete for the overall championship.
The course, approximately a kilometer in length, started in the clearing behind Skyview High School before looping across the soccer fields and climbing toward Tsalteshi Trails' Birch Corners. Skiers descended the angle hill and finished back where they started.
"It was a really quick track, and the trail was wide enough that you could have the wave start," said Homer's Syverine Abrahamson, the overall girls champion.
Skyview coach Kent Peterson said the sprint format has been catching on at the national level, and one of the Besh Cup Junior Olympic qualifier races has adopted the format.
"We thought we would try it in a high school race," Peterson said. "Some kids are stronger sprinters, and it's really spectator friendly. You can see the start and the finish and you know where everybody is. There's a little bit of strategy to it, too."
Kenai's Mary Krusin leads the way to the finish during a senior preliminary heat Saturday.
Photo by M. SCOTT MOON
Tactics made the difference in the boys super final won by Bart Dengel of Valdez in 2 minutes, 26 seconds.
"The whole trick is to get out (of the starting gate) first. Right behind first is the best spot," said Soldotna's Brent Knight.
Nikiski's Zach Hall took the early lead and Dengel slipped into second heading onto the hill.
"After I moved into second, I tried my best not to get passed," Dengel said.
"I couldn't get around Bart," Knight said. "He knew exactly where I was, and he wouldn't let me around -- I commend him for that."
Dengel was right on the tails of Hall's skis coming down the angle hill and was able to pull past Hall in the final sprint to the finish to claim the victory.
Knight had to settle for fourth place, just two seconds behind the winner, while teammate Daniel Harro found his groove on the homestretch to edge out Hall for second.
Kenai's Andy Banas finished fifth in the super final, Andrew Peters of Homer took sixth, Kenai's Eric Nyce was seventh and Colony's Peter Doner was eighth.
Kenai's Roxanna Wilcox climbs the uphill portion of a preliminary race Saturday.
Photo by M. SCOTT MOON
"I just really wanted to keep up with the top skiers and draft off them as much as I could," Nyce said. "On the hill I was able to keep up, but up at the top where it leveled off, I really got burned."
Abrahamson, senior, won the girls super final in 2:51, but the race was dominated by underclassmen as four sophomores made the cut --Susitna Valley's Tazlina Mannix (second, 2:52), Skyview's Stephanie Lambe (third, 2:58), Soldotna's Heidi Keller (sixth, 3:03) and Valdez's Liz Embick (eighth, 3:17).
Goldstein, junior, was fourth with a time of 2:58, Skyview freshman Elizabeth Haberman placed fifth in 2:59 and Susitna Valley senior Renae Moore was seventh in 3:07.
"I was trying to get out first," Lambe said. "I was struggling to have a good start. If you get out first, you don't have to pass people. Where you get out is basically where you're going to finish."
"It was tiring," Abrahamson said. "I'm definitely tired now. It's cool that we got to have this different format in our region races."
Friday and Saturday
at Skyview High School and Tsalteshi Trails
1 Kilometer sprint races
1. Syverine Abrahamson, Hom, 2 minutes. 51 seconds; 2. Tazlina Mannix, SuV, 2:52; 3. Stephanie Lambe, Sky, 2:58; 4. Rachel Goldstein, Sol, 2:58; 5. Elizabeth Haberman, Sky, 2:59; 6. Heidi Keller, Sol, 3:03; 7. Renae Moore, SuV, 3:07; 8. Liz Embick, Val, 3:17.
1.Syverine Abrahamson, Hom, 2:52; 2. Renae Moore, SuV, 3:02; 3. Mary Krusen, Ken, 3:06; 4. Mariah Phelps, Hom, 3:08; 6. Jenna Deyong, Gra, 3:09; 7. Natalie Semmens, Ken, 3:10; 8. Aurora Zinck, Nik, 3:18; 9. Marion Glaser, Sew, 3:40.
1. Rachel Goldstein, Sol, 3:00; 2. Lela Wiley, Sky, 3:07; 3. Heather Strutz, Hom, 3:13; 4. Katie Burck, Ken, 3:20; 5. Bridget Heimerl, Col, 3:26; 6. Roxanna Wilcox, Ken, 3:29; 7. Marta Todd, Galena, 3:30; 8. Becky James, Palmer, 3:32.
1. Tazlina Mannix, SuV, 2:53; 2. Stephanie Lambe, Sky, 2:54; 3. Heidi Keller, Sol, 3:02; 4. Liz Embick, Val, 3:05; 5. Michelle Trumpler, Sky, 3:34; 6. Melissa Ostermick, SuV, 3:36; 7. Tess Caswell, Sol, 3:37; 8. Kristen Gearry, Col, 3:37; 9. Sierra Williams, Sol, 3:42.
1. Elizabeth Haberman, Sky, 3:09; 2. Cassie Wilcox, Ken, 3:19; 3. Marci Mohler, Sky, 3:27; 4. Jenny Smola, Sol, 3:28; 5. Synneva Hagen-Lillevik, Ken, 3:34; 6. Ayla Dolecki, SuV, 3:36; 7. Jamie Miller, Sky, 3:40; 8. Nicole Mayer, Sol, 3:40; 9. Danielle Severson, Sol, 3:47.
1. Bart Dengel, Val, 2:26; 2. Daniel Harro, Sol, 2:26; 3. Zach Hall, Nik, 2:27; 4. Brent Knight, Sol, 2:28; 5. Andy Banas, Ken, 2:32; 6. Andrew Peters, Hom, 2:34; 7. Eric Nyce, Ken, 2:34; 8. Peter Doner, Col, 2:59.
1. Brent Knight, Sol, 2:23; 2. Zach Hall, Nik, 2:23; 3. Eric Nyce, Ken, 2:30; 4. Andrew Peters, Hom, 2:30; 5. Tyler Boyd, Ken, 2:36; 6. Sid Cox, Sky, 2:47; 7. Jason Rowland, Pal, 2:52; 8. Wade Turner, Col, 2:56.
1. Daniel Harro, Sol, 2:23; 2. Bart Dengel, Val, 2:24; 3. Mark Harro, Sol, 2:31; 4. David Hernandez, Sol, 2:34; 5. Jordan Engle, Ken, 2:34; 6. Zach Davison, Gra, 2:39; 7. David Dickson, Pal, 2:40; 8. Mark McCartan, Sol, 2:43; 9. Damian Anderson Sky, 2:44.
1. Andy Banas, Ken, 2:32; 2. Ryan Ford, Pal, 2:34; 3. Derek Ball, Hom, 2:41; 4. Ryan Walton, Sol, 2:43; 5. Alex Hundertmark, Sol, 2:44; 6. Spencer Litzenberger, Sol, 2:44; 7. Devin Reiss, Val, 2:53; 8. Kerry Klauder, Col, 2:54; 9. Ross Wise, Col, 3:02.
1. Peter Doner, Col, 2:51; 2. Nick Wise, Col, 2:51; 3. Noah King, Sky, 2:51; 4. Forrest West, Sky, 2:52; 5. Brandon Gonski, Col, 2:58; 6. Josh Johnson, Val, 3:01; 7. Michael Farrens, Hom, 3:04; 8. Calvin Romines, Col, 3:05; 9. Stephen Olendor, Sol, 3:14.
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