Alaska sports notebook: Mr. Schumacher goes to Washington and Palmer racetrack advances in NASCAR challenge

Even as a young skier, Gus Schumacher noticed that conditions he saw on training runs didn’t match up with expectations. Training nearly year-round in Alaska, Schumacher, a 2022 U.S. Olympian, noticed other differences as he ran and skied in the outdoors.

Schumacher, 21, was in Washington, D.C., late last month to do some lobbying on behalf of Protect Our Winters, a nonprofit organization that “helps passionate outdoor people protect the places and lifestyles they love from climate change.”

“Skiing has been my biggest exposure to the effects of climate change,” he said. “Even in middle school, I noticed the reports from coaches and parents didn’t match up to what I was noticing.”

Joining Schumacher were fellow skiers Jessie Diggins and David Wise and snowboarder Kaitlyn Farrington, among others.

The group met with a number of lawmakers and their staffs, but Schumacher was especially happy to be able to speak with Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski. He said they talked about recent snow conditions in Girdwood and fishing on the Kenai Peninsula.

“This is pretty personal to me, and as I’ve got older I noticed climate change affects every facet of life for me and everyone,” he said. “It’s something I’m excited to put my voice behind.”

Schumacher, who was recently named to the 2022-23 U.S. Cross Country Ski Team, said he will be in Oregon and Maine for stints this summer but will spend much of the time training in Alaska.


Former Dimond softball star takes first-team all-conference honors

Ripon College fastpitch softball player Mikaela Lawrence was named to the Midwest Conference First Team after a sophomore season that saw her finish among the top of the conference in a number of categories.

The former Dimond star hit .309, ranked fourth in the MWC in triples (3) and fourth in stolen bases (10). She also finished the year with four doubles, two home runs, 12 RBIs and a team-high 23 runs scored. In 16 conference games, Lawrence batted .426 with four doubles, three triples, one home run, eight RBIs and four stolen bases.

At Dimond, she set the school’s career mark for runs scored and has the highest single-season totals in both runs (50 set in 2019) and steals (42 set in 2018).

Alaska racetrack is a semifinalist in NASCAR track challenge

The Alaska Raceway Park has advanced to the semifinals in the NASCAR/Advanced Auto Parks Advance My Track Challenge.

Along with five other tracks, the Palmer track is vying for the overall title during the final round of voting, which ends Friday.

The track receiving the most votes will win $50,000. The winning track can use the money for track facility enhancements and community-based programs.

The Alaska Raceway Park also made the final six last year. In 2021, the track finished third and won $10,000. They used the funds to improve the fan experience, including constructing a playground.

Chris Bieri

Chris Bieri is the sports and entertainment editor at the Anchorage Daily News.