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Archive for February, 2009

Alaska State Championships 2

Saturday, February 28th, 2009

The second day of the Alaska State Championships was a bit of a compromise. Overnight, the wind blew in some near-zero temps and a skiff of slower snow along with it. But by race time, it was a stunning bluebird day with some high-powered rays beating down and speeding things up a little.

I would venture to guess that Alaska has the deepest field of J1 girls. Of course, I have no quantifiable data to back that up, but I have my reasons. The 7.5k mass start that the high school girls did today was one of the most exciting races I have seen in a while. Of course, anytime you cram over 100 adrenaline-hyped athletes armed with flimsy, expensive spear shaped appendages into a pine-wood derby type track, something’s bound to happen. But beyond that, the level of racing war amazing. A sizable breakaway pack formed, and after that the race was peppered with highlights. Surges, carnage, solo breaks, tactical blunders, and the likes were all present. The lead changed with every new attack, and there were a lot of hammers dropped. In the end, a few of the gutsiest had whittled it down to a handful, and from there Kailey Mucha (Soldotna, ANR) put on a Northug sprint to take the win over Alyson McPhetres (Chugiak, ANR) and Kinsey Loan (Chugiak, ANR). It was tight again, with 12 skiers within a minute, which is amazing for high school racing.  


View of the girls start from inside Birch Hill's toasty lodge

View of the girls start from inside Birch Hill's toasty lodge



The females roar out of the stadium en masse

The females roar out of the stadium en masse


The break-away group starts putting the pressure on each other

The break-away group starts putting the pressure on each other


Scott Patterson is one of the most reserved competitors you will probably ever meet. His pre-race rituals include no intimidation screams or beatings of the chest. I’m pretty sure he would rather just have his own warm up loop and wax tech (ok, who wouldn’t?), and walk into his start lane right before the race without ever having to talk to anyone. Those crazies that yell in your face and try to get you pumped before the race are really just distractions anyway, right?

Temporarily acting as one of the aforementioned psychos, I excitedly asked him if he was “going to rip their faces off today?”, referring to his competition that would all be gunning for him in today’s mass start race. I knew he was on when he looked me squarely in the eyes and answered with an uncharacteristically affirmative and unfaltering  “yes”. I think I shivered….

He did just that. With his blistering early pace only barely being matched by a few, he pinned it at about 6k and wasn’t seen again. Literally. For most of the race, the battle for the next two podium spots took place well behind, although there was not any shortage of intensity. Hands down, the race of the day (besides Patterson) was Jordan Buetow’s rally from outside the top 10 to claim the bronze. The Lathrop/FXC skier lost contact with the leaders in the early-race mayhem, but made short work of nearly ten skiers to the roar of the hometown crowd and plowed his way onto the podium.

The Big Three lead the long train up this early in-your-face climb

The Big Three lead the long train up this early in-your-face climb


Tyler Kornfield digging hard to counter Scott Patterson's surges off the front

Tyler Kornfield digging hard to counter Scott Patterson's surges off the front


In the evening, a bunch of skiers, including most of FAST, went to see the big showdown between UAF and UAA for the Governors Cup. UAF hockey is a pretty big deal here, and so it was both exciting and disappointing when our hometown Nooks lost 1-0 in the last period.

The big evening showdown between hometown UAF and arch-rivals UAA

The big evening showdown between hometown UAF and arch-rivals UAA



The now world famous ice-carving of a famous politician-turned-activist-turned-business-mogul… Especially applicable at 55 below!

Global warming frozen solid!

Global warming frozen solid!

Alaska State Championships

Friday, February 27th, 2009

On Thursday afternoon, colorful jackets and wacky team headgear from all across our great state flooded onto the Birch Hill Cross Country Ski Area for the opening day of the Alaska High School State Championships. Things were looking up, as the early part of the week had seen gorgeous sunshine and blue skis, followed by some light doses of warm, humid snow. As many of you may not know, Fairbanks is technically a desert, with less than 12 inches of precipitation a year. So any new snow this late in the season is welcomed, and especially so when it helps to bury that layer of 60-below Styrofoam we were skiing on just a few weeks ago.  

The Championships kicked off with a 7.5/5k individual start classic race. With snow falling abnormally heavily, nearly 250 skiers of varying abilities trucked around the course, which was fairly hilly in typical Estle fasion. Because there is no all-inclusive ranking system strictly for high-school competition, the coaches from each school rank their athletes 1 through 6, and then all of the 6’s go out first, followed by the 5’s, and so on…. However, there are always some schools that try and confound the system by ranking their top athletes as say, a #3. So needless to say, it was only slightly chaotic, with some very fast skiers ripping through packs of slower moving vehicles.

The Big Three didn’t fail to disappoint. Of course, I’m referring to the Alaskan trio of Tyler Kornfield, Scott Patterson, and Andrew Dougherty who represented the US at the Scando Cup just a few weeks ago where they finished second only to Norway in the relay. They finished in that order today, further asserting their dominance of the high school scene. Dark horse Nicky Treinen got within twenty seconds of Dougherty, and also worthy of noting was my little bro’s performance (still a sophomore and J2). Only deciding to race half-an-hour before his start due to illness, he still cruised into 8th as the top Fairbanks skier.

The girls made it much closer than their male counterparts. Having 14 skiers within a minute at the front of the race is a testament to the depth of the Alaskan females. It looked like most parents and coaches decided to abandon the ritual of split-taking, probably because some of the favorites were starting so far apart. I can guarantee you that Jan Buron, the ageless Service and Winter Star coach, is happy with the day, as Esther Kennedy just nipped Kinsey Loan to make it a double victory for Service.

That’s all for now. Tomorrow is a 10/7.5k skate mass start on a pretty gnarly course, which should make it interesting. Tune in again for more action.


This one's for J-Cork: The revived North Pole team

This one's for J-Cork: The revived North Pole team


Logan Hanneman (Lathrop, FAST) with race winner Tyler Kornfield (Service, AWS) breathing down his neck

Logan Hanneman (Lathrop, FAST) with race winner Tyler Kornfield (Service, AWS) breathing down his neck


Andrew Dougherty (South, AWS) on his way to third

Andrew Dougherty (South, AWS) on his way to third


Palmer High School doesnt usually have the top "lead actor", but nails the "best supporting cast"... That moose-shaped battle-axe is actually metal!!

Palmer High School doesnt usually have the top "lead actor", but nails the "best supporting cast"... That moose-shaped battle-axe is actually metal!!


Heavy hitter Kinsey Loan (Chugiak, ANR) punches the gas right from the start, on her way to second place

Heavy hitter Kinsey Loan (Chugiak, ANR) punches the gas right from the start, on her way to second place


Race winner Esther Kennedy (Service, AWS) leads ninth place Alyson McPhetres (Chugiak, ANR) up onto Tower Direct

Race winner Esther Kennedy (Service, AWS) leads ninth place Alyson McPhetres (Chugiak, ANR) up onto Tower Direct


The throngs line the final dramatic entrance into the stadium

The throngs line the final dramatic entrance into the stadium


Full Results and more pics

Pending Immortality

Thursday, February 26th, 2009

Everyone who has been following the World Cup races this year has to be wondering the same thing… How in the world is Ola Vigen Hattestad so dominant? He has turned what once was a roller-derby, sharp-elbows, crit-on-skis, need-a-massive-stroke-of-luck-to-win kind of race (as I sure Newell is well aware of) into a complete one-man blow out! His biggest disappointment this year was getting second (aww, poor him…) in Whistler. Besides that, he has won EVERY SINGLE SPRINT this year! How does that even happen? And as I’m sure you have seen, he just overcame massive pre-race pressure and won two sprint World Championships. The guy must be seriously fast, and if not already, is on his way to becoming the god of sprints.


After Hattestad crossed the line to become the Team World Champion, these two guys had a lunge-off, with Teichmann taking it for Germany. (Wanted to post the pic here, but I’m a pansy and too afraid I might make someone over at GettyImages mad over licensing infringments…..)


Check back for reports on the Alaska High School State Championships happening over the next few days.



Tough Decisions

Sunday, February 22nd, 2009

Isn’t it lame when you have to make tough decisions? As a competitive ski racer, sometimes there are things that have to be sacrificed in pursuit of the ultimate goal, whatever that might be. And while they are hardly ever life-or-death decisions, they still stink.

I debated with myself Saturday morning four hours on whether or not to go shred the powder on my big tele setup at Mt. Aurora SkiLand… There were a few factors that made the debate so intense. I had hurt my back a few weeks earlier playing hockey, and have had to be extremely careful not to stress it since then. But there was an almost unheard of 6 inches of champagne blower up there!! I woke up with a sore throat, and figured someone was trying to tell me something. BUT THERE’S 6 INCHES OF FRESH POWDER UP THERE!!!! Agghh, what to do…

So, in a display of responsibility I am still slightly resentful of, I bailed out. I figured that if I were to hurt my back now, shortly before leaving for Junior Nationals in Truckee, I would be pretty mad at myself.

And then this morning… when I woke up with slightly intensified throat soreness, I again pulled out of a major event. Ok, not quite major, but I really wanted to do it. Or then again, maybe I didn’t. There’s a local-race 30k pursuit today. Not exactly a World Cup field, but Marius Korthauer and I have been talking smack with each other for a while now about how this showdown is going to turn out, plus it would be good practice for Distance Nationals. I can imagine how far a grueling 30k could put a me under, so now I’m wimping out…

Oh well, I guess with all the racing coming up, like JN’s and Distance Nationals, it’s better to be safe than sorry. And sometimes that means making a tough decision…


In other more positive news, mad props to Alaska/APU’s James Southam for that sick 33rd place at Worlds!! Only one second behind the legend Killer Piller is, as Nat would say, BALLIN!!! And Northug is just nuts, I don’t see how he can ever be beaten if a skate race comes down to a sprint…

Also, nice work in the Birkie to Tyson and Davya!


World Champs 30k Pursuit Results

Hot Dang!!

Friday, February 20th, 2009

I hope I’m not intruding on Fasterskier’s reporting, but did you see the results from this morning’s 15k classic at World Championships?? Our very own Kris Freeman was 4th, just over one second off of the podium!! That’s amazing, I think he should be really stoked on that result!


The Bird, of course, is famous for his ridiculously high training volume and six hour ODs… Maybe these unfortunate complications with his lower legs are forcing him to rest like never before, and if so, it might be helping. Judging on his 16th last weekend and now this, a little downtime might be just what the doctor ordered.


Nice work Kris!


The Three Not-so-wise Men

Monday, February 16th, 2009

If you skied in Fairbanks for only a week, you would realize that most of the skiing population here consists of the hearty old masters. Many of them being very new to skiing while others are ex-competitive skiers. But even these “oldies” are trying to get themselves into, or back into (for some), the sport of cross-country skiing. There are even a couple of local masters “training” groups; one of which bears the name “SCUM”. Just for your info, that stands for “Susan’s Club of Unorganized (some claim Unruly) Men.”


Today, though, these masters had a very interesting ski. When they started, I bet they little idea that their peaceful ski would turn into a game of dodge ball. For today, a few of the FAST boys had a 20k pursuit time trial. As the master groups skied throughout the trail system, there was always a FAST guy ripping though them, putting some of the masters in a quick panic.


The course was pretty simple; two laps of 5k for the classic, then the Besh Cup 10k skate course for the skate portion. Even with these “simple” instructions, two out of the four “racers” screwed the course up tremendously. I was skiing around trying to have one skier follow the other to try to make the races as similar as possible, but with little success.


So in the end, with four people completing the time trial, there was a total of three different courses skied. Results then? Sure, but who won?





Roger (Master)


Werner Hoefler: the only wise one out of the bunch

Reese Hanneman getting underway out of the stadium

David Norris: We all agree that he won. By how much? Who knows….

The Three “Little” Hills and the Big Bad Blogs

Saturday, February 14th, 2009

I woke up this morning, went and cranked out a good set of intervals with Reese and Dave, chilled for a few hours at the house, and then went to the Interior XC Regionals Meet.

Regionals in Fairbanks is a unique event, as it remains one of the few races thats all high schoolers race, from JO contenders to completely recreational skiers. Historically exciting races entail, and today remained no exception.

The race course was 10k and consisted of John Estle’s signature “The Three Hills loop”, and as you can imagine has three fairly good sized climbs.

The girls races started off, and sadly I missed a good portion of it. I made it out in time to see the finish between Heather Edic and Marissa “Skeeto” Rorabaugh. They skied to the finish neck and neck to finish in a tie. Wendy Boger, Eliza Rorabaugh, and Rosemary Hansen rounded out the top 5 respectively.

Heather and Marissa going down the back stretch in the stadium.

On the guys side, a pack of four formed early on consisting of Jordan Buetow, Logan Hanneman (Big Logs aka Blogs), Kelsey Boyer, and Jacob Remmington.

Skiers going up south tower.

The pack remained close together up the first two hills South Tower and Black Funk. It started to spread out around 6k in, right before Blogs began nailing the coffin shut with a surge on the rest of the pack around 7k in on the Tower Direct climb. He maintained the lead to the finish. Top 5 finishers were Logan Hanneman, Jordan Beutow, Jacob Remmington, Kelsey Boyer, and Patrick Nugent respectively. Good races were to be had all around, and the 4x5k will begin tomorrow to wrap up the interior championships. -Werner Hoefler

Sunny Days

Thursday, February 12th, 2009

The sun is officially back in Fairbanks… ok, not exactly sure WHO officiated that, but for the sake of quickness, I’ll just say I did. After what seemed like endless months of depression-inducing darkness, that blazing orb has returned. It has brought with it mid-day temperature spikes, and some seriously gorgeous skiing.

For all of us student athletes living here in the Last Frontier, the winter can be pretty tough on the Vitamin D diet. The necessary habits of the competitive skier don’t allow for much exposure to natural light; the training sessions early in the morning before school usually take place alone and always in the dark. The two or three hours of daylight we get here in Fairbanks come right around noon, when everyone is stuck inside stimulating their grey matter. And by the time the second workout rolls around, sometime near 3 pm, the sun is already long set.

“So, how do you ever ski?” you may be asking, and that’s actually a pretty legit question. Fortunately, both major ski trail systems in Fairbanks have adapted to this pit of darkness, featuring amazing selections of lighted trails. Birch Hill has by far the best lit trails I have seen in the country, with over 15k of challenging terrain blasted with light until at least 10pm every day.

So needless to say, it feels weird to be skiing in the afternoon now with the sun blaring in your eyes. And it warms the snow up too, allowing skate skis to actually glide… imagine that!


Some of the local master blasters following the groomer in this morning’s rays

The Hanneman brothaas…

David Norris and Reese Hanneman, post max-effort intervals….

Look familiar? The train of Subies leaves the hill, with the highest point in North America on the horizon

Warm weather and pondering…

Tuesday, February 10th, 2009

I am here now in Waukesha WI, about 50 miles east of Madison. I have a sweet free place to stay and the training was perfect. This weekend I traveled over to Grand Rapids Michigan to visit almost all of my mom’s family who I have not seen in the last 8 years so it was a trip that needed to be doing, I had a lot of catching up to do. Then yesterday I need to get back to training so I drove the 5 hours back here and was a little bummed when I arrived because so much snow had melted since I had been here 3 days earlier. I was going to go for a long ski when I got back, but I was not really in the mood to get into the car again and go snow hunting so I just went for an hour run to stretch out the body a bit. Last night it was raining when I went to bed and today when I got up it was already 50 degrees and very sunny, some would say that this is perfect for February, but being a skier and needing snow for another week down here it is not so nice. Today I am finaly heading out for my snow hunt, I have a couple of ski areas that might have some potential, so until I find out more. Enjoy the cold if you have it, and if it is getting too warm out and the sun is hot try to get a sun burn, that is my goal for today at least…Tyson

Orange Demon pt.2: Pics

Tuesday, February 10th, 2009

Pre Race Secret Fuel: Copious amounts of Alaskan blueberry pie

 David Norris climbing like Contador

 Less than 1 k in, the women climb the lethal South Tower

 Logan Hanneman charging towards the finish well clear of 2nd place

 Alaska has the biggest, baddest J2’s in the country… Big Sam in the red is like 6’4″!


-Reese Hanneman