With snow on Diamond Ridge, the Homer High School Mariner Nordic ski team is preparing for the season ahead. Pictured from left to right back row: Nahoa Jette, Sam Nielson, Tien Liu, Ryan Navrot, Remi Nagle, Cassidy Soistman, Tisha Lovett, Louise Tymrak, Morgan Kelly, Mariah Vantrease, Tadhg Scholz, Brian Rowe, assistant coach Heidi Herzog and head coach Eric Groth;

With snow on Diamond Ridge, the Homer High School Mariner Nordic ski team is preparing for the season ahead. Pictured from left to right back row: Nahoa Jette, Sam Nielson, Tien Liu, Ryan Navrot, Remi Nagle, Cassidy Soistman, Tisha Lovett, Louise Tymrak, Morgan Kelly, Mariah Vantrease, Tadhg Scholz, Brian Rowe, assistant coach Heidi Herzog and head coach Eric Groth;

Lack of snow doesn’t stop ski training

Not enough snow for this weekend’s Homer High School Nordic Ski Invite? No, problem. The Mariners just strap on their skis and go where there is snow.

The event has been reorganized as the Homer Invite Mulligan Ski Race and will be held at Skyview High School Friday and Saturday

“(Homer’s Lookout Mountain) trail was groomed over the weekend, but there’s still not enough snow to have a race,” said Head Coach Eric Groth. “There’s lots of roots and dirt sticking up. It could snow, but we kind of have to make these calls, so unfortunately we can’t have it here.”

After talking to other coaches in Region III, Skyview was selected at the site.

In spite of winter’s delay, the team has been busy preparing for the upcoming
season, thanks to adequate snow cover along Sunset Trail off Diamond Ridge Road, a
2.8 km loop that is deep enough for grooming.

“I think we have about 30 kids right now, but that kind of changes every day,” Groth, in his second year as head coach, said of the team’s size.

With some of the skiers involved in other activities, the upcoming production of the Nutcracker for example, it’s a little difficult to judge the exact size of the team, but Groth is certain he’s in the ballpark.

“I think we’re looking pretty good,” he said.

There are only three of last year’s skiers missing — one graduated and two moved to Anchorage, but other than that, it’s the same varsity squad as the 2012-2013 season. Add a “whole bunch of new freshman and it’s exciting,” said Groth.

Three of the new team members are Maximiano “Max” Mangue Jr. of Mozambique, Yusra Sahi of the Philippines and Sebastian Talamas Jr. of Bolivia, exchange students at HHS.

“They’ve only been on snow one day now, but they’re getting trained up,” Groth told the Homer News last week.

That lack of snow hasn’t stopped Groth from getting the team in shape. They’ve had three weeks of training with running, hill bounding and doing some circuit work in the gym. 

“Then we finally got some snow, so we can get out there like we’re supposed to,” he said.

This weekend’s event was the only one to be held in the Homer area. Provided snow doesn’t disappear from other areas of the state, the season’s remaining schedule includes:

Dec. 13-14: Lynx-Loppet at Kincaid Park in Anchorage, for which Groth said he only takes the top six boys and six girls
“because it’s the first race of the year and it’s pretty intimidating;”

Dec. 19: SoHi Invitational;

Jan. 17-18: Kenai Invite;

Jan. 24-25: Colony;

Feb. 1: Seward Invite;

Feb. 8: Boroughs in Seward;

Feb. 14-15: Soldotna;

Feb. 20-22: Nordic Skiing State Championships at Kincaid Park Trails in Anchorage, a three-day event that includes both classic and skating on the first two days, followed by a relay on the third day, which, Groth said, “is kind of like the most exciting race.”

Last year the Mariners finished 13th at the state meet for boys and girls, with 22 other high schools from around the state competing. Brian Rowe placed 15th out of 119 skiers in the 7.5 km classical race on the first day of the meet and Cassidy Soistman finished 33rd out of 100 skiers overall. Both Rowe and Soistman were juniors last year.

With hope for more snow and their eyes on the season ahead, the Mariners practice every week day, beginning at 3:30 p.m.

McKibben Jackinsky can be reached at mckibben.jackinsky@homernews.com.

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