Homer High skiers honor Lars Spurkland

For the second weekend in a row, the Mariner ski team was forced to be flexible when their race was rescheduled at the last minute. The team was supposed to compete in the two-day Lynx Loppet Race on Friday and Saturday in Anchorage, but soon after they arrived in Anchorage on Thursday they learned the race had been cancelled due to lack of snow. 

“Friday there were rumors of ski races around town and the team tried to hit a few but they were false leads,” said assistant coach Alison O’Hara in an email. 

Late Friday night, the team learned an impromptu race had been arranged for Saturday in honor of Lars Spurkland, the Nordic Skiing Association of Anchorage board president and former East High School head ski coach, who had died unexpectedly that day. Spurkland was the brother of former HHS ski coach, Jan Spurkland, and an influential figure in the Anchorage skiing community. The race was titled the “Spurkland Scramble,” and the stadium at Service High was set up in an “S” shape to honor Spurkland. 

“Many of the Homer skiers had Lars’ brother Jan as a very inspiring mentor and ski coach, so being at this special memorial/race meant a lot to them,” said O’Hara. Jan Spurkland attended the race with his wife Megan, son Fischer, and mother, Tania Spurkland. 

On Saturday the Mariners competed in the  8K skate race with 500 other athletes from 12 schools. The conditions were less than ideal, but the athletes made the best of it. 

“We really had to dig our skis in to get a kick. It was such low friction that they couldn’t get much propulsion out of it. It was almost more like sledding down the hills,” said assistant coach Gus Beck.

Freshman Jacob Davis was seeded as bib number one, and was one of the first two skiers out of the chute. Due to sickness, only three boys competed for the Mariners. Sophomore Hoxie Parks placed 64th overall, Jacob Davis came in 66th, and sophomore Tadhg Scholz placed 72nd. 

O’Hara commented that the Mariner girls had an “outstanding performance,” placing seventh as a team. Individually, junior Rachel Ellert placed 32nd, senior Aspen Daigle finished 41st, freshman Sara Wolf came in 43rd, and sophomore Audrey Russell finished 45th. 

“The team morale was really good and they adapted well. They gave it their all on the race, which was great to see,” she said. 

The Mariners compete today in the SoHi Candy Cane at the Tsalteshi Trails. 

Lindsay Olsen is a freelance writer who lives in Homer.