Sixteen-year-old Sadi Oswald blew past skiers to win first place for women in the Kachemak Nordic Ski Marathon 20-kilometer race on Saturday, March 12. Sadie, who had never skied in Homer before came down from Anchorage with her father, Peter, for the event.
“It was unexpected because I thought I was going really slow, but apparently not,” Sadie said.
With a lot of Alaska lacking snow during this warmer winter, Homer currently beats out Anchorage for quality ski conditions. Sadie said she enjoyed skiing a different terrain as well.
“The snow was way better than it was in Anchorage. I like the rolling hills, that was really fun, and just being in the meadows and stuff because that’s so different from Anchorage,” Sadie said.
Homer skier Stacey Buckelew also had an impressive finish, coming in second place in the 40-kilometer race despite breaking a pole part way through the race.
“I had to ski about four or five kilometers with one pole and then I had to go back to my car to get a replacement pair of poles, so I thought that put me really far back,” Buckelew said.
After poor snow conditions blocked Kachemak Nordic Ski Club from putting on the event for the last two years, Ohlson Mountain’s Lookout trails provided skiers with more than enough powder to skate on. Though the conditions weren’t perfect, the skiers agreed it was some of the better skiing of the season.
“For the first half lap it was pretty firm, but actually it was incredible conditions compared to what we’ve been skiing all winter. The second half of the 20k, there were moments where it was pretty slushy and the trail was breaking down a little bit, but considering they’ve got a few feet of snow up there, it was pretty awesome. I really commend the race workers for all their work, and the snow gods,” said Darin Markwardt, a 20-kilometer race participant from Soldotna.
The club held three events — a 14-kilometer tour, 20-kilometer race and 40-kilometer race — and attracted skiers from Homer, Anchorage, Soldotna, Sterling, Fairbanks, Seward, Fritz Creek and Bend, Oregon. The marathon took place at Doug Schwiesow stadium, named in memory of the Homer skier who was the backbone of the race for a long time, said KNSC member and event organizer Deland Anderson. Schwiesow, a longtime Homer resident who helped build the Lookout Mountain trails, passed away December 2011 from complications with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS.
“The memory of Schwiesow was present as people raced in his stadium,” Anderson said. “I think its pretty clear in the skiing community that he was the heart and soul of that race.”
Though the marathon could not go the traditional route down into town, as the creeks were not frozen over enough, the skiers had plenty of room to race around the mountain trails.
However the March 11 rain did give Anderson a scare.
“Last night I woke up at 10:07 (p.m.) with the rain pouring on my roof and I thought, ‘This is a bad relationship.’ But it turned out perfect, we had a fresh inch of snow up there,” Anderson said.
Afterwards though, Anderson was all smiles and declared the day a success.
“Everyone’s happy and nothing went wrong. It’s just a great community event that brings everyone together,” Anderson said. “People come forward and have a good day. No worries, clear your mind, scrub out your brain pan, and go have a blast. … I’ve been here 20 years and this is the best community I know of skiers.”
1st: Amber Lukin
2nd: Sarah Barrowcliff
3rd: Karen Marquardt
1st: Glenn Seaman
2nd: Derek Bynagle
3rd: Leonard Miller
1st: Sadie Oswald
2nd: Tamra Kornfield
3rd: Kailey Mucha
1st: Levi Michael
2nd: David Spencer
3rd: Scott Hauser
1st: Sarah Freistone
2nd: Stacey Buckelew
3rd: Jane Wiebe
1st: Fischer Gangemi
2nd: Andre Lovett
3rd: Max Kaufman