Mariner Barae Hirsch wins sprint races in Besh Cups

Driving home from Soldotna last weekend, Barae Hirsch’s feeling of accomplishment filled the car. The Homer High freshman just took her second Besh Cup win in her young Nordic skiing career.

“It is really great to see my hard work pay off and the improvements I’ve made,” said Hirsch.

The aggressive competition of the Besh Cups qualifies racers for the Junior Olympics (JO), yet the13-year-old won’t be going to JO this year.

“I won both sprint days in the age group J-3 [those born between 1999-2000]. Only J-2s can qualify for Junior Olympics,” said Hirsch.

Hirsch took first place in the classic sprint bracket at the first Besh Cup races held in Anchorage on Dec. 22 and 23. The second of the Besh Cup races was held at the Tsalteshi Trails last weekend where Hirsch again swooped the competition in the skate sprint bracket.

Mariner teammates Andre Lovett and Brian Rowe also competed in Soldotna’s Besh Cup, taking 42nd and 49th respectively in the 15K men’s classic mass start on Sunday. Homer family Megan, Jan and Lars Spurkland also competed last weekend, finishing 21st, 28th and 41st respectively in the classic mass start.

Although Hirsch is still new to the racing scene, she didn’t let the more experienced racers intimidate her. 

She started racing last year at Romig Middle School in Anchorage, and immediately enrolled in the skiing development programs offered in the area.

The Mumford & Son’s listening teen describes her Besh Cups wins as a “great racing experience.” For her, participating in the Besh Cups was not only about competing, but also reuniting with her former Anchorage teammates.

“I had trained with a lot of my competitors when I lived in Anchorage. I like going to the Besh Cups because it is great to be a part of the whole skiing community in Alaska and see my former teammates improve as skiers,” said Hirsch.

Though Hirsch has been in the competition arena for two years, she says she has been skiing with her parents for years.

“My parents want me to push myself with the lesson that it’s not all about winning, what’s important is that I’m having fun,” said Hirsch.

When not racing, Hirsch tries to be outside as much as possible, even though an episode or two of “How I Met Your Mother” keeps her indoors at times.

She won’t be competing in the next Besh Cup to be held in Fairbanks next weekend. Instead, she will focus more of her time on training with the Mariner team and developing a Homer branch of Teen Stories through the Alaska Teen Media Institute.