Homer Alaska - Sports

Story last updated at 5:46 PM on Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Besh Cup races bring state's top skiers to Homer

By Angelina Skowronski
For the Homer News


Photo by Angelina Skowronski

In the foreground, Megan Spurkland, co-chair of Kachemak Nordic Ski Club, skis in last weekend's Besh Cup.

Most Olympic success stories start in small towns, removed from media's influences with the innocence of one-stoplight communities.

This weekend, Homer became that small town where gold-medal dreams begin, accompanied by the five Olympic rings and Leo Arnaud's "Bugler's Dreams" in the distance.

Volunteers at Lookout Mountain helped as hosts for the ConocoPhillips Besh Cup cross country skiing race, one of six Besh Cup races this winter that will qualify junior athletes throughout the state for Junior Olympics, the Alaska teams to the United States Ski and Snowboard Association, and the biennial international Arctic Winter Games.

Skiers competed in the 1K classic sprint on Saturday for Besh Cup Number 3 under blue skies and in subzero temperatures. Races were split into age groups ranging from 8 years and under to 16 years and over with elimination heats.

Sunday's Besh Cup Number 4 was the female and male freestyle race in 3K, 5K and 10K loops.

Six athletes from the Homer High School cross country team joined in the race after they forfeited the weekend's meet in Kenai because of cold weather. Cassidy Soistman represented Homer High on Saturday and received 11th place in the J2 age division.

"The best skiers in the state are out here, so there is a lot of good competition," said Soistman. "I am not too concerned with the competition with people, but rather the competition with myself and my time."

Soistman and fellow Homer cross country ski teammate Andre Lovett are trying to place for the Alaska Team in the Arctic Winter Games. Racers receive points at each cup for their time; at the end of the series the cumulative points will determine who qualifies for the teams. This year, the top eight will go on to the Junior Olympics in Soldier Hollow, Utah, in March and the top 12 will advance to the Arctic Winter Games in Whitehorse, Yukon, also in March.

Aside from junior athletes, seasoned skiers also competed in the heats. Kachemak Nordic Ski Club co-chair Megan Spurkland enjoyed some friendly competition.

"We got to race alongside members of the U.S. Ski Team and some of the best juniors in the country," said Spurkland. "An amazing volunteer effort made these races possible, and Jan (Spurkland) did an amazing job of keeping it all together."

The Besh Cup's six races are scheduled each year in Fairbanks, Anchorage and the Kenai Peninsula. Homer and Soldotna trade being hosts each year for the peninsula venue. High school cross country ski coach Jan Spurkland organized the event in Homer.

"As someone who grew up racing Besh Cups, I felt it was appropriate for me to step up and give back," said Spurkland. "I have seen the other side of the event as an athlete, and now I am seeing what it takes to put it all together."

With the help of 66 local volunteers throughout the weekend, the Besh Cup supported more than 300 skiers at the Lookout Mountain ski trails near Ohlson Mountain.

"The volunteers were essential, from setting up yurts to driving school buses and everything in between," said Spurkland.

Nomad Yurts donated use of the yurts to keep skiers warm in between races. Other business donations were made by Two Sisters Bakery, Fritz Creek General Store, Captain's Coffee and the Wagon Wheel.

Homer's female participants were Mia Alexson, Jasmine Maurer, Megan Spurkland, Aurora Waclawski, Aziza Pitcher, Marie Schmidt, Katie Schmidt, Emily Schmidt, Kaya Morelli, Mady Gerard, Cassidy Soistman and Alaine Miller. Homer's male participants were Alan Parks, Atz Kilcher, Andre Lovett, Parker Sorenson, Brian Rowe, Dan Adickes, Josh Vantrease, Kyle Wentz, Jake Wolsford, Louis Maurer and Lars Spurkland.

Besh Cups Number 1 and 2 were held at Kincaid Park in Anchorage in early December. Besh Cups Number 5 and 6 move to Fairbanks next week at Birch Hill Ski Area, where more Olympic dreams may spark.

Saturday, 1K Classic Sprint

Women's J3 division

10th Aurora Waclawski 6:12.22

11th Mia Alexson 6:14.21

Women's J2 division

11th Cassidy Soistman 5:20.75

Women's General Sprint

29th Jasmine Maurer 4:50.75

30th Megan Spurkland 4:57.32

38th Kaya Morelli 5:17.61

41st Alaine Miller 5:38.71

Men's General Sprint

33rd Andre Lovett 4:05.16

34th Parker Sorensen 4:05.39

40th Brian Rowe 4:10.88

46th Dan Adickes 4:19.62

61st Josh Vantrease 4:41.26

68th Jacob Worsfold 5:07.97

70th Atz Kilcher 5:29.57

71st Alan Parks 6:08.18

Sunday, Freestyle

Female 3K

14th Aziza Shermet Pitcher 13:53.20

15th Mia Alexson 14:00.70

Female 5K

24th Jasmine Maurer 19:26.60

42nd Kaya Morelli 20:50.70

43rd Marie Schmidt 20:54.50

51st Cassidy Soistman 22:29.30

58th Mady Gerard 23:14.40

61st Alaine Miller 23:47.40

64th Emily Schmidt 24:12.50

70th Katie Schmidt 26:36.90

Male 10K

26th Andre Lovett 33:57.40

52nd Louis Maurer 38:46.00

63rd Kyle Wentz 43:21.40

65th Alan Parks 45:47.10