Lack of snow forces Mariner Ski Invite to move to Tsalteshi

The several inches of snow that fell last weekend at higher elevations above Homer were not sufficient for the Mariner Cross-Country Ski Team to host their Homer Invite as planned this Friday and Saturday. 

“The race has been canceled in Homer as far as we know, and moved to Soldotna,” said Mariner Head Coach Alan Parks, on Tuesday. 

The scheduled two-day event will be consolidated into one race, to be held on Saturday at the Tsalteshi Trails near Skyview Middle School in Soldotna.

The Homer Invite was the Mariners’ only scheduled home race this season. A total of 11 teams were invited to the event, including long-distance travelers such as Valdez and Palmer. Parks said that some teams may not be able to attend due to the last-minute changes. 

While the change in location is undoubtedly disappointing, the athletes are thankful to be able to compete at all. Saturday’s race will be their first competitive event of the season, as prior races were canceled due to the lack of snow. 

“This is the world we live in, so what can we do?” said Parks. “We’ll just carry on.”

On Monday, the Mariners were able to hold their first practice on snow and skis at the Lookout Trails on Ohlson Mountain Rd. 

“It was our first day on snow, so it was great,” Parks said. “We got up there and it was getting dark, and we skied until we couldn’t ski anymore.” 

Then, he added, laughing, “It was chaos.” 

Despite the delayed snowfall this season, the Mariners have been training hard and are excited to jump into racing this weekend.

“We’re ready. We’re in great physical shape. The kids have been training for a month. They’ve got the lung power. A lot of them are experienced skiers, so we’ll be OK,” Parks said. 

The details of Saturday’s race will be decided by SoHi’s athletic director, Kent Peterson, later this week. Parks urged spectators to check the team’s Facebook page, titled “Mariner Nordic Ski Team,” for the current status and timing of the event. 

Lindsay Olsen is a freelance writer who lives in Homer.