Mike Campbell

Finally, we've hit bottom.

After ringing in solstice at 3:04 this morning, sun worshipers can at least offer thanks they're not trying to use solar power to stay warm in Fairbanks.

Last year, researchers with the Cold Climate Housing Research Center there looked into how much oomph sun's power could deliver to four tracking arrays of photovoltaic solar panels on Dec. 21.

"That was the whole idea," said center president Jack Hebert. "Why not start this thing on the coldest, darkest day of the year?"

The conditions: 35 degrees below zero, thick ice fog, sunrise at nearly 11 a.m.

The result: Not enough electricity to power one incandescent light bulb from arrays that, at peak performance, can power 10 homes...

Mike Campbell

More than any other state, Alaska offers splendid opportunities to explore remote places untouched by humans.

Perhaps no one has seized that opportunity quite like Tim Kelley.

Last month, Kelley, 51, became the fourth climber to earn the Mountaineering Club of Alaska's Hoeman Award for making 91 first ascents of remote peaks in the Western Chugach, Talkeetna and Kenai mountains -- and for sharing his discoveries with others.

"(That's) more than any other known person, and he continues to add more every year," said Bill Romberg, head of the club's award committee. "It's probably safe to say that no other person since Vin Hoeman has climbed and named as many peaks in Alaska."...

Mike Campbell

Wednesday was a great day to play at Alyeska -- but a dangerous one elsewhere.

A huge snow dump that left nearly three feet of fresh snow at Alyeska and a heavy load at Turnagain Pass triggered fresh avalanche warnings.

"The storm ... put the biggest load of new weight our snowpack has had all year," Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center forecaster Matt Murphy wrote on his agency's Web site Wednesday morning. "Anytime you have a drastic or rapid change like this, you can expect natural and human triggered avalanches. ... Now, we have a lot more weight on top of (a) weak layer. There will be potential for large avalanches."...

Mike Campbell

In Alaska's demanding winter outdoor sports, it's not unusual for a son to try to duplicate Dad's exploits. Look no further than dog mushing champion Lance Mackey, who doubled up father Dick Mackey's lone victory in the Iditarod.

Less common are championship-winning daughters following in Dad's footsteps.

But Soldotna snowmachine racer Carly Davis, 18, is changing that.

Davis, daughter of seven-time Tesoro Iron Dog champion Scott Davis, defeated the defending national champion to win the Pro Women's Super Stock race last weekend at the 17th Duluth National Snocross in Minnesota...

Mike Campbell

Blowback from the troubled global economy combined with a $1,000 increase in entry fees has combined to shrink the size of the field for the 2009 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race by 25 percent.

Seventy-three mushers signed up for the race from Anchorage to Nome. The list includes 51 Alaskans, six foreigners, 19 rookies and 18 women.

Nine months ago in downtown Anchorage, a record 96 mushers crowded the Fourth Avenue start chute.

Typically, several racers drop out before the race starts. Last year, for instance, the field was 110 mushers deep at the sign-up deadline.

The entry fee increased $1,000 for the 2009 race, from $3,000 to $4,000. Two years ago, it was $1,860...

Mike Campbell

Soldotna High's multitalented and never-defeated football player, Anthony Griglione, today was named 2008-09 Gatorade Alaska Football Player of the Year.

The 195-pound senior running back and linebacker never lost a game in a Soldotna uniform. He led the undefeated Stars (10-0) to their third consecutive small schools state title in October, a 28-6 victory over Kodiak in Anchorage Football Stadium. Soldotna extended its winning streak to 29 in that game, tying a state record. Griglione started each of those games.

"He's one of those gone-in-60 seconds guys," said his coach, Galen Brantley Jr. "He's one of those special kids who only comes along once in a long time. He's the total football player.

...

Mike Campbell,Kevin Klott

After a week of snowfall that deposited 10 feet of fresh snow on Mount Alyeska, managers said Monday they will open the North Face to skiers and boarders this morning.

Expect powder.

"The North Face is like in-bounds heli terrain -- heli skiing without the heli," gushed Brian Burnett, the former local ski racer who now works as mountain services manager at Alyeska.

The 2,350-foot North Face boasts the longest, continuous, double-black diamond run in North America.

Skiers capable of skiing it love the North Face. Skiers uncomfortable with expert terrain, however, will want to stay away...

Mike Campbell,Craig Medred

After a week of snowfall that deposited 10 feet of fresh snow on Mount Alyeska, managers said Monday they will open the North Face to skiers and boarders Tuesday morning.

Expect powder.

"The North Face is like in-bounds heli terrain — heli skiing without the heli," gushed Brian Burnett, the former local ski racer who now works as mountain services manager at Alyeska.

The 2,350-foot North Face boasts the longest, continuous, double-black diamond run in North America.

Skiers capable of skiing it love the North Face. Skiers uncomfortable with expert terrain, however, will want to stay away...

Craig Medred,Mike Campbell

Kikkan Randall of Anchorage -- America’s best female cross country skier ever -- delivered a promising World Cup performance in Kuusamo, Finland, on Sunday, finishing 23rd in the women’s 10-kilometer classic race for her best result ever in an international distance race.

Randall is known primarily as a sprinter, and a year ago in Rybinsk, Russia, won the first World Cup race by an American woman in a freestyle sprint. She was the only American woman to race on Sunday.

"Today was a great race for me, my first time scoring World Cup points in a distance race," she wrote by e-mail from Finland. "It’s been a goal of mine for a long time to crack into the top 30 in a World Cup distance race, and it’s exciting to make it happen in the first distance race of the year."...

Mike Campbell

Thousands of Alaska children have learned the fundamentals of alpine skiing at the Alyeska Ski Club in Girdwood. Some don't make it out of Mighty Mites, the venerable and affordable start-up program aimed at 7- to 12-year- olds. Others become Olympians -- though not always in skiing.

"Back then, I was a legend in my own mind," laughed 2006 Olympic snowboarding bronze medalist Rosey Fletcher, who skied with the club until 1991, when she was 15 years old. "I wasn't a very good skier, but I had a lot of heart.

"It was great for me, actually. It's where I established what a racing line is and what a gate is. At 15, I saw a bunch of guys out snowboarding and it just seemed like the right thing for me. But everything I learned transferred over."...

Mike Campbell

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