Savai'i Heaven and Austin Whitaker plow down a hill at Skyview High School on Saturday.
Photo courtesy of Chris Thorne
Six-year-old Amanda Eby, feet strapped onto the smallest Burton snowboard her mother could find, stood at the summit of the hill behind Skyview High School. She launched herself forward, flew down the hill and landed at the bottom on her side.
"Amanda just bit it hard," said her mother, Melissa Eby, before advising her daughter to "frog hop" back up the hill. "I put Amanda on one of those baby sleds when she was a year old."
After only three days of snowboarding, Amanda, who received her board for Christmas, was able to make it to the bottom before she tipped over, but, she said, she's been sledding longer than she has been snowboarding.
"It's enjoyful," she said. "(The best part) is when snow gets in your face."
Wiping out is what most Soldotna Silver Salmon swimmers looked forward to the most as they raced each other down the hill on toboggans, saucer sleds and even a piece of black plastic tarp. Cross-country skiers took advantage of the new snow as well on Saturday, hitting the Tsalteshi trails while bald eagles surveyed the activity from high atop the trees.
"We have the Soldotna Silver Salmon swim team together," said team president Joel Pieper. "We swim together, we slope together."
That day, Pieper said, after the swimmers were finished hitting the slopes, the plan was see "Alvin and the Chipmunks," have a barbecue, then the kids would spend the evening trying their hand at Nintendo Wii and Halo while the adults would head back to the movies for "National Treasure."
"When it snowed, we said hey let's go," Eby said, adding that the swimmers sled as a group. "We waxed our sled to make it go faster."
When the kids unwrapped their new sleds and snowboards on Christmas morning, Eby said, their first stop was the local elementary school, but Skyview High school is the biggest hill around for skiing and sledding.
Alena Newgren's sleds of choice are her two saucer sleds. She, Kaitlyn Groleske and Kaydi Marckesano laughed at Sarah Mokracek who, red-faced, made it down the hill with a face-full of snow.
"I used Sarah as a shield," Kaitlyn said.
Skyview High School sophomore Justin Marsh, a member of the cross-country ski team, said his friends introduced him to the sport as an eighth-grader. Standing at the Tsalteshi trail head, learning how to cross-country ski was more difficult than he thought it would be at first and took more endurance.
"It looks really easy," he said, "but you have to keep your knees bent and land on the right end of the ski."
Justin, like many who took advantage of the break in the weather, said he likes the snow and skiing makes him get outside during the winter. Tsalteshi Trails, with its dips and hills, are enough of a challenge for him to get a good workout, and they're long.
Terri Springer said there's been barely just enough snow for her to get out to ski. She and her husband planned to spend at least 45 minutes on the trails while their kids went sledding and snowboarding on the hill.
"Bill Holt does a beautiful job grooming them," she said, adding that it's fun to look for rabbit tracks and shrew tracks and the extra lighting makes skiing the trails better. "It's a wonderful workout (in) fresh air and a wooded setting. I'll stay out here longer if I can get my husband to."
Apart from getting snow up their nose, many swimmers felt that the best thing about being outside together on a Saturday is getting a chance to be together.
"It makes you laugh," Alena said. "(It's) fun because most of my friends are on the team."
Jessica Cejnar can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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