Sunday's Ski for Women is a go, one way or another

Beth Bragg
Jim Lavrakas

All things are go for Sunday's Alaska Ski for Women, although it might become a walk for women. Or a pose for women.

With the Kincaid Park stadium an ice rink due to the January heat wave, race officials are examining alternatives for the popular all-women's race, held annually on Super Bowl Sunday.

Event director Fiona Peichel said that no matter what alternatives may be employed, the 18th edition of the race will still be Sunday and it will still be at Kincaid.

"The race will go on no matter what," Peichel said Tuesday afternoon. "We're not going to cancel it.

"It might turn into a walk. That's evolving."

Peichel said race officials will make a final decision on what the event will look like on Saturday morning, and post the details online ( It is scheduled to be a four-kilometer race.

The primary issue is the stadium, which is critical to the staging of the race. Besides needing a big, open area to accommodate hundreds of racers for the start and finish, space is needed for the race's signature event -- the parade of costumes.

Over the years, costumes have become as big a part of the Ski for Women as skis and poles. Not everyone dresses up, but those who do, do so spectacularly, and room is needed for them to parade their creations and for judges to pick winners.

"The trail is fine," Peichel said. "It has snow. It's OK. The chalet, the parking lot, all those things are OK. The question is where are we going to stage?

"If it rains more, if we lose all the snow in the stadium, that would be great."

Even better than rain would be an extended period of below-freezing temperatures, which would allow groomers to grind up the ice in the stadium.

"If it's cool enough at night, they can grind up the ice, but it has to stay cool long enough," Peichel said. "We met last night to discuss options, but we're really playing it day by day."

There is precedent for the race going on even if there is no skiing involved -- in 2005, a lack of snow turned the Ski for Women into a walk. People showed up anyway.

Last year's race attracted about 1,250 women and girls. About 500 are signed up now, and more are expected to register this week.

Peichel said officials are determined to make something happen, because the race provides grants for a number of charities that specialize in helping women and children. Participants are asked to make a donation in lieu of paying an entry fee, and in its first 17 years, the Alaska Ski for Women has raised more than $1 million for its beneficiaries, Peichel said. Last year, more than $60,000 in grants were given to AWAIC, Clare House, the YWCA, STAR and Running Free Alaska.

"It's a great fundraising event," Peichel said. "It's not like the Tour of Anchorage where everyone trains all winter and if it gets canceled they can't do the race they trained for. This is a fun, short ski race, so the ones who lose if we don't have it is those beneficiaries."

Reach Beth Bragg at or 257-4335.

Ski for Women

Is it on? Yes, but check Saturday at 10 a.m. or later to see what, if any, changes may be made to accommodate conditions.

Is there a shuttle? Yes, running from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. from Kincaid Elementary. There won't be much parking available in the lots at Kincaid.

The schedule

9 a.m.-2 p.m. -- Shuttle bus runs between Kincaid Elementary and Kincaid Park.

9-10 a.m. -- Bib pickup and late registration (party wave only)

10:30 a.m. -- Start of duathlon; start of timed skate waves

11 a.m. -- Start of timed classic waves

11:30 a.m. -- Gather in stadium for costume parade and contest

12:15 p.m. -- Start of non-timed party waves


Photos: 2013 Alaska Ski for Women