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Solstice race gives local skiers a chance to race again

Published: Dec. 20, 2020 at 12:20 AM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - A snowstorm didn’t slow down skiers at the FIS Solstice race at Kincaid Park on Saturday. This was the first national ranking race in the United States for cross country skiers put on by the Nordic Ski Association of Anchorage.

“To have this race be the first of the national racing calendar is a pretty big deal,” NSAA president, Joey Caterinichio said. “The most important part is our community getting outside to race.”

The race attracted a small field of elite-level skiers featuring U.S. ski team members Sadie Bjornsen and Luke Jager. In a normal year, Jager and Bjornsen would be traveling to races every weekend due to the COVID-19 pandemic they’ve trained closer to home this winter.

“To race with these people I’ve known my whole life,” Jager said. “These volunteers that have watched me grow up is really special.”

Bjornsen relished the opportunity to race in Alaska.

“I have to be honest, a lot of the racing we do in Europe it is on manmade snow,” Bjornsen said. “So I’ve had so much fun racing in Alaska this last month on real snow, real snowstorms, the real cross-country skiing.”

The Nordic Ski Association had the races socially distant with one person leaving the start line every 30 seconds and posted COVID-19 mitigation plans online.

“We really wanted to do this for the community, and knew we could do it safely,” Caterinichio said.

The classic sprint prelim races were held on Saturday, and the freestyle distance races will be held on Sunday.

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