Mariner girls Nordic ski team wins division championship

Homer High’s girls Nordic ski team blew past the competition last week to take first place overall out of two teams for 2A-3A division at the Nordic Ski State Championships in Anchorage. 

The 2A-3A division includes schools like Homer, Valdez and Grace Christian that have 450 kids or less, said assistant coach Alison O’Hara. 

Valdez girls ski team came in second in the division.

Senior Rachel Ellert, senior Mariah Vantrease, freshman Katia Holmes, sophomore Mia Alexson and freshman Katie Davis represented Homer girls at State, each contributing to the big win. However, Ellert asserted herself as a standout player.

Ellert placed third in both classic and skate races in the division. Ellert also skied in the relay with teammates Holmes, Davis and Vantrease. During the relay, Ellert skied last and passed three skiers, including one from Soldotna that seemed too far ahead to catch.

“She had a lot of lead on me in the last (kilometer) of the 3k relay and I caught her and that was a big accomplishment for me to finish so strong,” Ellert said.

Vantrease attributed winning the championship to the training and practice put in by the skiers throughout the season and to their coaches, head coach Alan Parks and assistant coach O’Hara. 

“It felt really good, like all our hard work was paying off. It was a great way to end the season and my high school career,” Vantrease said.

The road to victory started as a slushy one, as Kincaid Park in Anchorage relied on manmade snow to create the ski trails, Holmes said.

“The first day for the skate race, it was really slushy, super slow and really dirty. It felt like skiing on ice cream,” Holmes said. “It iced over before the classic, so it went better and then the relay had good snow.”

Homer’s boys Nordic ski team also competed at states and placed second out of two schools in the 2A-3A division, said Chris Perk. Grace Christian School placed first in 2A-3A division. Most memorably, junior Hoxie Parks broke a binding mid-race and continued on a broken ski until Parks found a replacement, O’Hara said.

Anna Frost can be reached at