Homer Alaska - Sports

Story last updated at 6:37 PM on Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Middle school skiers end season in flurry

By Lindsay Johnson
Staff Writer


Photographer: Lindsay Johnson, Homer News

Wind blows snow on the start of the girls' classic race at the Kenai Peninsula Borough Middle School ski meet last Saturday at the Lookout Mountain trails.

The final meet of the Kenai Peninsula Borough middle school ski season last Saturday was truly a test of endurance, not only for the seventh and eighth grade skiers, but for their coaches, parents and supporters. With temperatures hovering in the teens and wind gusting to 30 miles per hour, conditions at the Lookout Trails on Ohlson Mountain Road were challenging to say the least.

Most of the racers agreed with seventh-grader Claire Swanson's report.

"Homer's like the coldest. It was really windy," she said.

Nonetheless, 27 girls and 36 boys representing five peninsula towns completed a 3.5 kilometer skate race and a 1.6 kilometer classic race.

Seventh-grader Aziza Shemet-Pitcher was Homer's fastest female skier of the day overall. Her combined skate and classic time of 25 minutes, 29.6 seconds put her in seventh place overall. Auora Waclawski, also a seventh-grader, took eighth with a combined time of 25:33.4. Eighth-grader Jenna Fabich took ninth in 25:50.1.

Eighth-grader Ghen Sasakura skied a combined time of 19:08.3 for third place overall. Christian Olsen (20:55.9), Porter Livingston (21:16.8) and Ben Westphal (21:20.9), all eighth-graders, came in sixth, seventh and eighth.

Like their high school counterparts, Homer skiers excelled in the freestyle races.

"Definitely better than classic," said one of the eighth grade boys.

Maggie LaRue, an eighth grader, took fourth in the skate race with 14:56.7. Three of her teammates-- Shemet-Pitcher, Waclawski and Fabich-- rounded out the top ten.

There were likewise four top-ten finishers in the boys skate race. Sasakura led the squad with a second-place finish in 11:45.2. Westphal, Livingston and Olsen took fifth eighth and ninth.

"For Homer it went really good. We had a lot of people in all the podiums. We had the most people of all the sports," said Sasakura about the season.

Seward Coach Matt Adams also had good things to say about Homer.

"This is a really great facility. The conditions were a little iffy for kick waxing with all the drifted snow. And the wind, that was the only negative thing. It's a great course and it was nice to be able to come here twice. They really care about their skiing in Homer so it's nice to have all the community support and the good facilities," he said.

Following the two girls and two boys races, a 1.6 km citizens freestyle race was held which gave coaches and supporters a chance to warm up before the middle school awards ceremony.

"It's always fun to do a community race, something to keep the coaches and parents a little more active too. Reminds me how hard it actually is," Adams said.

Between gusts of wind, seventh-grader Rachel Ellert summed up the general feeling about the end of the ski season.

"Sad, but kind of a relief."