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Donaldson, Blanchet Take Alaska State Meet Titles

The ASAA/First National Bank Alaska 2013 Nordic Skiing State Championships were contested February 21-23 at Kincaid Park in Anchorage, Alaska.  Hosted by the Alaska School Activities Association (ASAA), A.J. Dimond High School, and the Nordic Skiing Association of Anchorage (NSAA), the three-day event provided plenty of action at the well-known and competitive trails of Kincaid Park.

The total time of the first two day’s of racing would crown the state skimeister for both boys and girls.  Day one featured interval start races: 7.5 k for boys and 5 k for girls.  At the conclusion of the boy’s races, the boys winner was Eric Backstrum of South Anchorage followed by Jake Bassett of Robert Service and Thomas O’Harra of East Anchorage.  Just off the podium was Max Donaldson of West Valley High School in Fairbanks.  The top four were separated by 4/10th’s of a second!  The girl’s 5 k champion was Lydia Blanchet of West Anchorage.  She was followed by Marion Woods of South Anchorage.  Rounding off the podium was Morgan Flynn of East Anchorage.  While not quite the drama of the boys race, the girls result would dictate how fast the pace would be pushed during the mass start event on Friday.

Fresh snow greeted the Chief of Competition, Matt Pauli, for day two.  In addition, a vehicle (jeep to be exact), managed to plow thru a snow berm and access approximately .5 k of race trail.  Still four hours away from post time at 1100, the race trail was quickly and expertly regroomed creating even a better racing surface.  As a side note, the jeep became stuck well off the race course where the culprits were found, the police were summoned, the officers got to ride a Pisten Bully to the culprits, the culprits were apprehended and lead away in hand cuffs; trail damage and equipment use to be invoiced by NSAA later.  The PB 100 towed the jeep out while the PB 600 went about fixing the damaged trail.

So much for that drama.  Racing action ensued with the girls mass start 7.5 k. Chevron start positions were determined by Thursday result. After Thursday’s racing, Blanchet, wearing bib #1, was 20 seconds clear of Woods.  Woods definitely knew this as she lead from the gun and pushed the pace.  While the result order was reversed from the previous day, it was not enough to take over the overall skimeister position as Blanchet finished only four seconds behind in the mass start.  To round out the podium, Teagan Yutrzenka of South Anchorage put in a strong performance, finishing 20 seconds after Blanchet.

What was assumed to be a strategic race for the boys 10 k (2X5 k loops) became a lesson taught by Donaldson of West Valley.  Tanner Ramey, hoping to make up a 14 second deficit after the first day of competition, opened up with a strong first lap, trailed closely by Donaldson.  Racers began each lap with Elliot’s Climb at approximately the 700 m mark of each lap.  It was here that Donaldson put the hammer down and created the exclamation point that would make him the first state skimeister from West Valley since 1982.  O’Harra of East would move up a spot to second, just holding off Jacob Volz of West.

Racing concluded with the mixed technique relays.  The South girls handled the 3 k loops easily, besting Service by 2.5 minutes.  Wearing trucker caps furnished by their coach, Christina Turman, the West Valley boys ski’d the 5 k loops easily and etched their school’s name on the state championship trophy for the first time since 1993.

By Matthew Pauli

2013 HS Nordic Skiing State Championships from Smith Services Alaska on Vimeo.

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