Homer Alaska - Sports

Story last updated at 5:53 PM on Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Skiers head to State; Mariner girls finish second at Regions

By Angelina Skowronski
For the Homer News

The competition was tough at the Regions III Nordic Ski Championships last weekend in Soldotna. So tough that Homer's first place standings on Friday were knocked down to second place for the girls after Grace Christian and fifth place for the boys on Saturday.

"After Friday both teams were in a position to win Regions. Grace came back on Saturday and did phenomenal. The girls skied really well, but couldn't keep in step," said Mariner Head Ski Coach Jan Spurkland.

The girls competed in a 5K skate and 7.5K mass start classic, while the boys competed in a 5K skate and 10K mass start classic race. The boys' disappointing fifth-place finish came because of issues with the wax rather than athletic performance.

"We had a break down on the wax for the boys, it just wasn't sticking. Once we figured out what was going on, we were able to fix it 20 minutes before the girls race," said Spurkland.

Technically, a chemical residue on the ski prevented the wax from sticking to the skis. To fix this problem, the skis had to be stripped of the wax, rebuffe, and then re-waxed.

Spurkland emphasized the waxing issue should not take away from the effort of his team and despite technical difficulties, this shows that Homer will be competitive at State.

"Both teams have a chance at being in the top five at State, but it's still could be anyone's game," said Spurkland.

In Spurkland's six years of coaching cross country skiing he says he has never seen Regions so strong across so many schools.

"The top teams at Regions are separated by minutes, where the winner is dependent on which school is on their game that day," said Spurkland.

The Mariners plan on bringing their game to State where the competition will be of national proportions.

Spurkland said, "skiing is so darn competitive in Alaska. It's like football in Texas. For the small community of Homer to be bouncing around the top five in the state is like being in the top 10 in the nation."

The Nordic Ski State Championships begin today and run through Saturday at Kincaid Park Trails in Anchorage.

Angelina Skowronski is a freelance writer who lives in Homer.