High School Sports

Service skiers sweep races at South Classic on Saturday

As temperatures hovered in the low single digits at Kincaid Park on Saturday morning, Service High senior Aaron Power had developed a motivational plan for the South Classic Ski Race.

“The quicker we finish, the quicker we can go inside,” he joked.

The strategy worked, as Power and teammate Justin Lucas finished in quick succession to take the top two spots. They were followed by a trio of West High skiers to round out the top five.

Lucas said it was minus 2 at his house this morning, but he fought against his instincts to back out and went racing.

“After the sunrise, it warmed up quite nicely,” he said. “It’s actually perfect racing temperature for a classic race.”

Power, the 2022 Skimeister titleist, finished in 20 minutes, 51.2 seconds. Lucas, a junior, was just fractions of a second back at 20:53.5.

The two used each other to push for faster times and separate from skiers from rival schools.


“I’m really glad Justin was with me the whole time,” Power said. “After I got that initial gap, I was ready to slow down and kind of take it easy.”

“If I didn’t hang with Aaron, then everybody else behind would’ve caught up,” Lucas said.

Outside of the top-2 finishes from Service, the day belonged to West, which featured seven skiers of the top 11 finishers.

On the girls side, Meredith Schwartz took the top spot, outpacing runner-up Marley Ireland from East and Emily Erickson from Dimond. She said the course chosen by the South coaches was a perfect early season test.

“This season I’m just trying to build my confidence and know that I can pace myself, know that I have enough endurance to complete a course like this,” Schwartz said.

A dump of snow this week allowed for a quality of trail that most skiers hadn’t experienced yet this winter.

“It was incredible,” she said. “We haven’t had tracks yet so for everybody to experience their first time or at least their first time this season in the tracks was really special.”

Schwartz’s 25:02.5 was six seconds faster than Ireland and a bit more than eight seconds faster than Erickson.

“I was psyched to see those girls up with me and to be able to race with them,” Schwartz said. “I credit a lot of it to Marley Ireland. We worked together going up the hills and I was able to push a little faster than her on the downhills but it was really great to see her and I appreciate her.”

On the team side, East used strong balance behind Ireland to take the team title with just 39 points. The Thunderbirds had six skiers in the top 22 and topped runner-up Dimond (41 points).


Team totals (top 4 skiers)

1. East 39; 2. Dimond 41; 3. Service 47; 4. West 49; 5. Chugiak 63; 6. South 97.

Individual Top 10

1. Meredith Schwartz, Service, 25:02.5; 2. Marley Ireland, East, 25:06.5; 3. Emily Erickson, Dimond, 25:10.8; 4. Kiley Dennis, Chugiak, 25:37.6; 5. Olivia Soderstrom, Service, 25:46.7; 6. Ameli Kam-Magruder, Dimond, 26:17.2; 7. Rose Conway, East, 26:30.4; 8. Piper Sears, West, 26:42.6; 9. Anna Halsey, Dimond, 26:59.4; 10. Brynn Rathert, East, 27:04.8.


Team totals (top 4 skiers)


1. West 20; 2. Service 33; 3. South 57; 4. Dimond 80; 5. East 102; 6. Chugiak 106; 7. Eagle River 126.

Individual Top 10

1. Aaron Power, Service, 20:51.2; 2. Justin Lucas, Service, 20:53.5; 3. Hlake Hanley, West, 21:30.1; 4. Murphy Kimball, West, 21.30.3; 5. Cole Flowers, West, 21:38.6; 6. Ethan Howe, East, 21.44; 6; 7. Owen Young, South, 22:00.1; 8. Liam Chisholm, West, 22:01.6; 9. Oliver Wright, West, 22:29.3; 10 (tie). Ethan Ski, West, 22:30.4; 10 (tie). Hatcher Menkens, West, 22:30.4.

Chris Bieri

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