Add the Ski 4 Kids to the ever-growing list of sporting events that have gone virtual because of the pandemic. It comes with gnomes, a princess and (spoiler alert) magic beans.
The annual event, first held in 1995, is usually a single day at Kincaid Park that includes various games and a short ski race for children.
This year there are no organized games and no race. In their place is a weeklong event being held on the first 2.5 kilometers of the Mize Loop. The course will remain open through 4 p.m. Saturday, March 4.
The course is decorated with 14 storyboards that tell the story of some eggnog-fueled gnomes searching for a princess in peril. Bethlehem Shalom, a program specialist for the city’s Parks and Recreation Department, wrote the story and did the artwork.
Kids follow the story by skiing from one storyboard to the next, and once they’re done skiing the loop they can pick up a prize at the Kincaid chalet, which is open from 12:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. daily. Masks are required in the chalet.
Shalom said kids have claimed about 275 vouchers for a free cookie — only 50 remain, so ski fast — so at least that many young skiers have done the event since Sunday. Buffs are also being given away, as well as coloring books and a field journal that tie into the storyboard.
“It’s been an amazing turnout,” Shalom said Wednesday while working at the Kincaid chalet.
No registration is required, but donations will be accepted.
Money raised will help fund the Ski 4 Kids ski equipment grant program, which award grants to schools and programs to purchase ski equipment. Organizers say has contributed nearly $100,000 over the years to 39 different ski programs in the Anchorage area.
The deadline to submit applications for grant money is April 30.