Cross country skiers don’t wait for snow to fall

As the Mariners’ cross country ski team waits for snowflakes, the team begins their season practice on dry land with high hopes for big snow and big wins.

“The team is relatively young and welcomes skiers of all skill levels. Some students have never skied before and some have been skiing since middle school or earlier,” said Head Coach Eric Groth.

Thirty-three skiers strong, the team is quickly gearing up for their first race, the Flight Races at Tsalteshi Trails in Soldotna on Dec. 1.

“We are doing dry land training right now. Lots of hill bounding with poles which is a mock classic technique. We are doing plyometrics one day a week and long distance running one day a week,” said Groth.

The Flight Races is a small meet. Groth hopes that by giving his young team more racing experience early on, they will be better ready for the rest of the season.

It will be a big year for Homer, with the Boroughs on Feb. 9and Region on Feb. 15-16, in addition to the Homer Invite on Dec. 14-15.

“The Lookout Mountain trails are a technical course with tight turns and lots of hills. If the skiers can memorize the course, the home course advantage will be beneficial to us,” said Groth.

New this year is the Ski Challenge program offered to skiers ages 11-18 by the Kachemak Nordic Ski Club, and coached by former high school coach Jan Spurkland. The Ski Challenge gives skiers the opportunity to receive more training and extra practice on the weekends.

“The program is meant to work around the high school practice schedule. Soldotna and Anchorage have had a program like this in place for a while now, and we are hoping this gives Homer skiers a competitive edge,” said Spurkland.

Volunteers and assistant coaches will be needed throughout the ski season to help with coaching, meets and fundraising. Inquire at the high school about paid and volunteer positions.