Abundant snow and good opportunities to advance in their sport await a large field of alpine skiers this week at Alyeska Ski Resort.
The Alaska Best Water December FIS Series has attracted 120 skiers, including more than 80 from Outside, for a four-day series that begins Thursday. They'll be racing on three feet of new snow in Girdwood.
The field includes 11 racers from UAA and more than two dozen skiers from Alaska, plus contingents from the Far West Division (39 skiers), the Pacific Northwest Division (18), the East Division (12) and Canada (6), according to Aaron Stiassny of the Alyeska Ski Club, which is hosting the event.
The experienced and successful UAA skiers are an especially important draw because their presence creates a low International Ski Federation (FIS) point base for the series. Skiers are willing to travel to races with low point bases, especially this early in the season, because it gives them a chance to lower their own points. Low points means better seeding and improved eligibility for future races.
"It's all about world rankings," UAA ski coach Sparky Anderson said. "It'll be a good points race. For the girls it should be excellent and for the guys it will be decent."
UAA will enter seven women and four men -- Anna Berecz, Vanessa Berther, Ida Bjerka, Taylor Guetschow, Kayla Hoog-Frye, Sandra MacDonald and Anais Urbain for the women and Halfdan Hansen-Falkum, Christopher Kollenborg, Niko Harmanen and Cameron Brewington for the men.
Competition begins Thursday with a night-time slalom race on Lower Race Trail. The first run for men starts at 4:15 p.m., with women going at 4:45 p.m.
Racers will compete in a second slalom Friday beginning at 12:30 p.m., and in two giant slaloms Saturday and Sunday, with the first runs starting at 11:15 a.m. each day.