Alyeska Spring Carnival features a grueling hill climb, a daring downhill and a bikini race

Alyeska Ski Resort on Saturday will have world-class skiers in a cross-country hill climb in the morning, and bikini-clad skiers in a dual slalom race in the afternoon.

The next day, fat bikers will take over for a high-speed downhill race.

With all that, who needs the Slush Cup?

Alyeska’s annual end-of-season Slush Cup isn’t happening this year because of COVID-19 concerns, and in its place is a Spring Carnival complete with nordic racing and alpine racing Saturday and fat bike racing on Sunday.

And that’s not all. Unlike many years, the mid-April festivities won’t mark the end of the season.

The Girdwood ski resort on Tuesday reported that its snowpack had passed the 700-inch mark, conditions that should more than accommodate three weekend openings in May (May 8-9, May 15-16 and May 22-23). Daily operations will end April 25.

The snowpack on Tuesday was at 702 inches -- 58.5 feet -- making Alyeska the second ski area in North America to hit the 700-inch mark this winter, according to a report from the resort. Washington’s Mount Baker hit the 700-inch mark on Sunday.


We've officially broken 700" on the season and are currently sitting at 702"! As the second resort in North America to...

Posted by Alyeska Resort on Tuesday, April 13, 2021

All of that snow will be provide a proper stage for a hat tricks of events this weekend.

At 9 a.m. Saturday, the final stage of the new Tour de Skimeister will send some of Alaska’s -- and the world’s -- top nordic skiers up the mountain in a demanding hillclimb of more than 2,000 feet.

The hillclimb to the top of the tram is the last of three races in the Tour de Skimeister, which replaced the final Besh Cup cross-country races of the season. The races are sanctioned by the International Ski Federation (FIS).

The first two races were held last weekend at Kincaid Park. Taking titles in Saturday’s classic race were Hunter Wonders and Hailey Swirbul, who both spent most of the season racing on the World Cup circuit.

Taking titles in Sunday’s freestyle race were Scott Patterson and Astrid Stav; Patterson racked up an impressive 10th-place finish in the 50-kilometer race at the World Championships last month in Germany, and Stav was the national runnerup in the freestyle race at the NCAA Championships last month in New Hampshire.

Patterson and Stav are on the start list for the hillclimb, as are David Norris, Gus Schumacher, Rosie Frankowski and many other top skiers. About 100 are expected to compete.

Not long after the cross-country skiers are done, alpine skiers will take over for a less formal race -- the bikini dual slalom, from noon to 4 p.m.

There’s no entry fee and no entry deadline, but “board-shorts, bikinis or costumes are highly encouraged to keep the Spring Carnival vibes alive,” according to race information on the Alyeska website.

On Sunday, a downhill bike race starts at 10 a.m. and goes from the top of the tram to the day lodge. Disc brakes and helmets are required and studded tires are encouraged. The field is limited to 50 racers.

Tour de Skimeister results

Saturday’s classic race (top 5)

Men’s 10K -- 1) Hunter Wonders 25:02.19; 2) Scott Patterson 25:03.01; 3) Gus Schumacher 25:16.33; 4)Tyler Kornfield 25:22.37; 5) David Norris 25:40.38.

Men’s 5K -- 1) Elias Soule 14:41.23; 2) Hatcher Menkens 14:41.44; 3) Murphy Kimball 14:51.49; 4) Jacob Johnson 14:55.00; 5) Nathan Rehberg 15:04.78.

Women’s 5K -- 1) Hailey Swirbul 14:20.59; 2) Hannah Halvorsen 15:02.44; 3) Tuva Bygrave 15:07.06; 4) Anna Darnell 15:28.52; 5) Meredith Schwartz 16:35.56.

Sunday’s freestyle race (top 5)

Men’s 15K -- 1) Scott Patterson 33:26.48; 2) Gus Schumacher 33:54.14; 3) David Norris 34:37.08; 4) Sigurd Roenning 35:16.22; 5) JC Schoonmaker 35:37.43.

Women’s 10K -- 1) Astrid Stav 26:41.96; 2) Anna Darnell 27:00.55; 3) Tuva Bygrave 1:41:49; 4) Hannah Halvorsen 27:42.65; 5) Karly Coyne 28:42.13.


Beth Bragg

Beth Bragg wrote about sports and other topics for the ADN for more than 35 years, much of it as sports editor. She retired in October 2021. She's contributing coverage of Alaskans involved in the 2022 Winter Olympics.