Crashes, highlight tapes and prom dates: NordicX draws top skiers in Anchorage

Rosie Whittingon-Evans was just hoping to get through NordicX in one piece.

The Palmer senior grabbed second place in the junior girls class at the inaugural event, which combines Nordic skiing with jumps and big air.

As soon as the event Saturday at Hilltop Ski Area was done, she hustled off to the Palmer prom.

But first she had to survive the championship heat, in which she broke her left pole and crashed heading down the hill.

“My legs were so wobbly, I felt like I couldn’t get up, and I’m pretty sure I slid halfway down the last hill and crashed again right before the ending,” she said.

The prom conflict almost forced her to skip the event altogether.

“I wasn’t going to come because I thought, man I’m going to break my arm, I’m going to do something dumb,” she said. “I managed to get out with just a broken pole.”


Fortunately she didn’t have to go too far to meet up with her date. Owen Young, who won the junior boys division, was her date for the prom.

Maya Tirpack won the girls race, edging out Whittingon-Evans in a race where all three of the top finishers crashed late.

The men’s race was won by UAA standout and 2022 Olympian JC Schoonmaker, who edged out 2014 Olympian Erik Bjornsen.

Schoonmaker barely advanced to the finals after trying a trick toward the end of the qualifying run.

“I was putting a little highlight reel together,” Schoonmaker joked. “Trying to get some good tricks off the last jumps. I had a little space, so I decided to go for a 360. I crashed and I could feel (the other racers) coming behind me, so I just tried to scoot across, and I think I got second.”

Schoonmaker was second to Bjornsen in the qualifying run. Bjornsen retired two years ago but didn’t look like he’d lost a step. Despite being a little rusty, he said the conditions reminded him of a World Cup race.

“It’s very different than what I’ve been doing recently,” Bjornsen joked. “Now I own a sports shop, so instead of skiing, I talk about skis all winter.”

The event, organized by Reese Hanneman, was a hybrid competition that he’s been working toward putting on for 15 years, he said.

The youth events were especially packed with racers and even the highly competitive skiers said they’d be back.

“I’d do this every year it happens,” Schoonmaker said. “It’s so awesome.”

Sadie Maubet Bjornsen won the women’s event among a group of notable Nordic racers, including Olympian Rosie Brennan.

Once again in the championship run, Schoonmaker crashed right at the finish line and had to roll across the line as Erik Bjornsen finished.

“Feels like I’m a kid again, but I think I was a lot better at this than when I was like, 13 or 14,” Schoonmaker said. “I’m trying to do a little bit of risk management here and make sure I don’t break any bones.”

Chris Bieri

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