The state high school ski championships won’t happen in Anchorage later this month as planned but will be held somewhere else, possibly at Government Peak, the Alaska School Activities Association said Tuesday.
A new location could be in store for the March Madness state basketball tournaments too.
Under the city’s current COVID-19 emergency order, “Outdoor tournaments that bring together teams from outside the Municipality of Anchorage are prohibited” — a mandate that means Kincaid Park can’t host the Feb. 25-27 state cross-country ski championships.
ASAA executive director Billy Strickland said the championships most likely will move to Government Peak at Hatcher Pass. “If Mat-Su says yes, we’ll make that announcement pretty soon,” he said.
Strickland said ASAA met with city officials last week to see if there was any leeway on the mandate dealing with outdoor activities, but the policy prohibiting out-of-town teams was still in place Tuesday. A spokeswoman with the mayor’s office didn’t immediately return a phone call seeking comment.
“We asked, ‘Can you reconsider?’ ’' Strickland said. “We talked about it, but they weren’t going to change the verbiage.”
Emergency Order 18 was implemented Feb. 1 and remains in place until it is revoked.
As a result, ASAA is considering a new location for the state basketball tournaments scheduled to be held in Anchorage in late March and early April, Strickland said. The Class 4A and 3A boys and girls tournaments are scheduled for March 24-27 and the Class 2A and Class 1A boys and girls tournaments are scheduled for April 1-3.
“We’re now going to begin looking at moving those,” he said, although those plans could change “if the muni comes out with a revision or new announcements by the end of this month.”
The Valley is the frontrunner for hosting the basketball tournaments, Strickland said. He said ASAA hopes to use multiple facilities that would separate the tournaments by class and gender and “so we can put big blocks of time between games.”
Depending on how long the emergency order is in place, or how a new order would deal with out-of-town teams coming to Anchorage, ASAA may need to move other state championship events out of Anchorage, Strickland said.
He said he’s disappointed the skiing championships won’t be held at Kincaid Park, where he believes a safe event can be held. The Nordic Skiing Association of Anchorage has a veteran crew that has been putting on races all winter that use interval starts and don’t allow skiers or others to congregate before and after races.
“NSAA has just got this dialed in,” Strickland said.
Joey Caterinichio, president of the NSAA board of directors, said representatives of the Anchorage ski club also met with city officials last week in the hope the emergency order’s language would be modified to lessen the restrictions on outdoor events.
“We do want to host the state meet at Kincaid,” she said. “It’s one of the safest venues and our crew is probably the most tenured as far as putting on a mitigated meet. Unfortunately, this particular event would have to move for it to happen.”
She said NSAA will respect the city mandates and that she’ll offer help to Mat-Su race organizers.
“I’m happy to jump in and help them host, because I believe outdoors sports is keeping COVID down and keeping kids healthy,” she said.