With post-race travel arrangements varying from ten hour drives to one hour flights, all of the FAST athletes returned to Fairbanks after a successful weekend of racing in Soldotna, Alaska. It was the second set of Besh Cup races out of a six-race, three-weekend series. The Alaskan equivalent of JOQs, the Besh Cups are the largest, most competitive races in Alaska, and are always a blast. With action ranging from shuffling J6’s to the legendary Master7 Ed Strabel still beating up on the youngins, the races offer a good balance of intense competition and laid back fun.
The weather here in the Last Frontier has been pretty wacky, too cold for Senior Nationals one week and nearly melting all skiable snow the next. With most of the state unable to ski last week due to a lethal combination of little snow/excessive ice, most people, at least those from Fairbanks, were skeptical about the trail conditions in Soldotna, a typically warmer venue. However, upon arrival, fears were laid to rest as the organizers (with the help of a few flurries), had the trials in tip-top shape.
Due to some icy spots and slightly narrow climbs, Saturdays sprint was reduced to simply a 1.7k prologue. In typical fashion, the handful of FAST skiers could be found on top of the results, with Kuba Grezda, Logan Hanneman, and Reese Hanneman each winning their divisions, giving FAST victories in the boys J3, J2, and J1/OJ divisions. Highlights included David Norris’s high speed face-plant-skid, after which he still got second for J1/OJs, and Logan Hanneman winning the J2 boys by nearly ten seconds and finishing third in the overall men’s results.
Sundays race was a distance skate race on some of the fastest snow many had ever skied on. The FAST boys repeated the triple victory, except this time it was David Norris winning the J1/OJs, skiing to second overall behind Anchorage local Mark Iverson of Rossignol. Kuba and Logan each posted victories of 30+ seconds, absolutely smashing the field. Everyone seemed to agree that the lazer-fast snow and swoopy trails contributed to one of the most fun races in a long time.
Full results can be seen on the Cross Country Alaska site.
- Logan tearing through a snow squall mid-sprint.
- Pre-race hangout in the Skyview cafeteria
- FAST warm up…. cats cradle
- David Norris warming up above the stadium
- Racers from some of the most successful clubs around: Alaska Winter Stars, FAST, and APU
- Reese trying to outrun eventual winner Mark Iverson