Anchorage’s high school skiers are coming out of hibernation this week.
After their first three races of the season were canceled because of the November earthquake and scant snow, high school kids will converge on Chugiak’s Beach Lake trails Saturday for the Chugiak Stampede.
The race is one of several things happening in the next couple of days that will keep nordic and alpine skiers busy:
— The AMH Anchorage Cup — a cross-country race series for skiers of all levels and ages — will kick off at noon Sunday at Kincaid Park with the annual Hickok Duathlon.
— The Coca-Cola Holiday Classic will bring four days of age-group slalom and giant slalom racing to Alyeska Ski Resort in Girdwood.
— The first session of the Nordic Skiing Association of Anchorage’s popular Junior Nordic League wraps up Saturday, and the second session begins Monday. Kids ages 6-14 can still sign up for the second session.
The high school race in Chugiak has been long-awaited. The first three races on the schedule — the Service Snowball and the two-day Lynx Loppet — were canceled, and the Cook Inlet Conference championships are fast approaching. Racing starts at 11 a.m. at the Beach Lake Trails.
The CIC championships are Feb. 8-9, and there are only three high school races between now and then — Saturday’s race in Chugiak, a Wednesday sprint race at Bartlett High and a Jan. 26 skiathlon at Kincaid Park.
Though Alaska doesn’t offer alpine skiing in high schools, the Coca-Cola Holiday Classic is the next best thing. Skiers in four age groups — Under 12, Under 14, Under 16 and seniors — will compete, with the two older age groups racing Saturday and Sunday and the younger ones going Monday and Tuesday.
There will be two runs each day, at 10:50 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Sunday’s Hickok Duathlon is a mixed-technique race, with distances of 10 kilometers and six kilometers. Skiers use the classic technique for the first half and the freestyle technique for the second half.
The duathlon is part of the five-race Anchorage Cup. The first race, December’s Hillside Classic, was called off because of poor trail conditions but will be rescheduled if possible, said Sara Kamahele, the NSAA’s program manager.
“We’re hoping to reschedule that race but we don’t have a date picked out,” she said. “The ski schedule is so full from now to March. The schedule is packed.”
Also packed: the second session of the Junior Nordic League, although there is still room to grow.
The first session drew 275 young skiers. So far, 604 have signed up for the second eight-week session, which costs $195 and runs through March 9. Groups meet three times a week at various Anchorage parks and trails.
Kamahele said the first session, which started Nov. 26, required some creativity on the part of coaches and organizers, who didn’t have much snow to work with.
“We put into effect our no-snow plan this year,” she said.
Sometimes that meant ice skating, sometimes that meant helping with trail work, sometimes that meant something else outdoors and hopefully fun.
“We had to think outside the box to keep the kids entertained and keep them happy,” Kamahele said. “If (the weather) continues like it has the last couple winters, it’s just going to be part of the plan going forward.
“… Junior Nordic isn’t just about skiing, it’s about being outside, enjoying the outdoors and being with other kids.”