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Beth Bragg

A wrestler from the top of the world claimed a spot at the top of the high school wrestling world Saturday in Reno, Nevada.

Josh Roetman, a 182-pound senior from Kotzebue, earned the tournament's Outstanding Wrestler award after winning his weight class at the Reno Tournament of Champions.

Billed as "the toughest tournament in the U.S.," the meet draws many of the best high school wrestlers from all over the country and is considered an unofficial national championship.

"Without a doubt it was his biggest win," Kotzebue coach Mark Lane said by phone...

Beth Bragg

Olympic snowboarder Ryan Stassel of Anchorage missed the podium by a narrow margin Saturday when the World Cup came to Turkey for the first time in history.

With a crowd of 10,000 watching at Istanbul's Technical University Stadium, Stassel placed fourth in the big air competition.

Stassel, 22, scored the day's second-highest score on his third run, but results are based on two-run totals. His total score of 178.25 points put him 1.25 points away from the bronze medal awarded to third place. Claiming the bronze was another American, Brandon Davis...

Beth Bragg

Philip Esai, who provided food, shelter and a friendly welcome to Iditarod mushers en route from Nikolai to McGrath, will be the honorary musher for the 2015 Last Great Race.

Esai, who died in May at age 72, had been a volunteer since the Iditarod got its start in 1973. In the early years, he and his wife Dora opened their Big River cabin to mushers in need of sleep or a steaming bowl of moose stew.

"There was no room in the cabin because mushers were sleeping everywhere," daughter Marty said in a press release from the Iditarod, which announced Esai's selection as honorary musher on Friday...

Beth Bragg

The hit-and-miss ski season at Alyeska picks up again Friday, when the Girdwood resort will open after a four-day closure.

So far Alyeska has been open 10 days, with the longest stretch a five-day span earlier this month.

The entire mountain has yet to open during this snow-starved winter. The bottom of the mountain remains brown, but the upper mountain got seven inches of new snow early Thursday for a total depth of 54 inches, according to the resort's snow report.

When Alyeska reopens Friday, the Glacier Bowl Express will be the only chairlift running, and skiers will need to upload and download on the tram.

"Unfortunately we still don't have the coverage to open the entire mountain," Alyeska spokeswoman Amy Quesenberry said in an email...

Beth Bragg

Holly Brooks began her solo act with flair Friday.

Brooks, the two-time Olympic skier from Anchorage, made her debut on the FIS Marathon Cup circuit by capturing second place in the first race of the season.

Skiing in a mixed-gender 42-kilometer freestyle race in Livigno, Italy, Brooks edged a skier from Belarus by eight seconds to grab runnerup honors in the La Sgambeda Loppet. She finished in 1 hour, 43 minutes, 54.9 seconds, trailing winner Riitta Roponen-Liisa of Finland by 3:12.

"I was nervous," Brooks told fasterskier.com. "It was the first race of the season for me and I usually don't wait this long to start racing."...

Beth Bragg

Anchorage's cross-country ski community was rocked Friday by the death of Lars Spurkland, president of the Nordic Skiing Association of Anchorage and former head ski coach at East High.

A race will be held Saturday at Service High in honor of Spurkland, a 1993 graduate of Dimond High.

Spurkland, 39, suffered a ruptured aneurysm on Wednesday that caused cranial hemorrhaging, friend Jerry Ross said. He died Friday morning.

"No matter what the environment was, he was always very chill," said Tamra Kornfield, program director for the NSAA. "You could rely on him to settle everyone down. He was really humorous, easy to work with...

Beth Bragg

News of the death of Erik Peterson, who was killed in an avalanche Saturday while skiing not far from the Richardson Highway, hit hard in Anchorage, where Peterson coached sports at two high schools and was a recent student teacher at another.

Peterson was an assistant coach for the West High football team, an assistant coach for the Dimond High track and field team and a former student teacher at South High.

"He also worked up in Barrow and Delta Junction," said Tim Davis, head coach of the West football team. "He loved Alaska because he was able to coach sports and still get into the backcountry and just enjoy that Alaska lifestyle that we all love."...

Beth Bragg

After two weekends of World Cup competition, the U.S. Ski Team heads this week to Davos, Switzerland, where Alaska's Kikkan Randall and Sadie Bjornsen hope to keep improving.

The leader of the team so far has been Bjornsen, who on Sunday had the best finish in a classic-technique pursuit race, the last of three races in a World Cup mini-tour in Lillehammer, Norway. Bjornsen placed 18th after starting in 17th place.

Randall, the World Cup's reigning sprint champion who battled illness at the start of the season, improved from 63rd place in Saturday's skate race to 58th in the pursuit...

Beth Bragg

The theme of the latest class of inductees for the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame?

Trailblazers.

Dick Mize is a builder of trails, a man whose passion and sweat helped give Anchorage a network of world-class nordic ski trails.

Nancy Pease is the queen of Alaska trail running, a woman who blazed her name into the record books at Mount Marathon, Crow Pass and Bird Ridge with performances that years later remain unequaled.

Michaela Hutchison blazed a trail for girls and women in wrestling in 2006 when she became the first girl in the nation to win a state championship against boys...

Beth Bragg

In a battle of conference heavyweights Saturday night, the UAA women's basketball team delivered a knockout punch.

The 18th-ranked Seawolves remained undefeated by pummeling 23rd-ranked Seattle Pacific 85-58 on the Falcons' homecourt.

UAA (7-0 overall, 2-0 Great Northwest Athletic Conference) raced to leads of 5-0 and 17-6 to put Seattle Pacific on the ropes early in the game at Royal Brougham Pavilion.

"I am a little surprised that it was like that," UAA coach Ryan McCarthy said. "They're a very good team. We came out and jumped on them and got some easy baskets right off the bat."...

Beth Bragg

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