Even though Juneau received nearly 3 feet of snow last week, there's still not enough at Eaglecrest Ski Area to hold a legal race.
That means the Juneau Ski Club has postponed or canceled half of its schedule so far this season. The club was scheduled to host the Kensington Gold Mine Cup this weekend - Juneau's part of the state Junior Olympics alpine ski qualifying series - but on Monday the club decided to move it north to Alyeska Resort in Girdwood.
"We got so much snow, and it was wonderful light powder," JSC race director Heidi Reifenstein said. "But it went quickly when the rain came. If it had been the usual Juneau cement, it would have packed and we could race."
The club did try to hold a race on Sunday, but there wasn't enough snow to hold a legal slalom race (slalom courses are the shortest courses in ski racing). The Post-Cash Bash Dash, which replaced the scheduled Ptarmigan Series super-giant slalom on the JSC schedule, did take place but results were unofficial. Lucy Squibb and Zach Young were the top female and male skiers on Sunday.
With the Kensington Gold Mine Cup races scheduled to open on Thursday, race officials didn't think it was likely that conditions could be improved in time for the series that would have run through Monday. Because many skiers are traveling from Anchorage and Fairbanks, JSC officials wanted them to have enough time to change their travel plans.
Now the races will take place in February and will be held in conjunction with the Alyeska Cup - the Girdwood portion of the J.O. qualifying series. The two series will mix races under the two local banners, with the top skiers advancing to regional age group competition in the Lower 48. This is the second time in the past three years that the club has had to move its part of the J.O. qualifying series to Girdwood.
"The main reasons were the safety and the travel," Reifenstein said for the site switch.
The new schedule has the JSC skiers traveling to Girdwood on Feb. 11, with the first Kensington Gold Mine Cup slalom taking place on Saturday, Feb. 12 and the giant slalom on Sunday, Feb. 13.
The next two days will be used to set the downhill course and give everybody a chance for some training runs, then two Alyeska Cup downhill races will take place on Wednesday, Feb. 16 (Eaglecrest is not certified for a downhill run). On Thursday, Feb. 17, two super-G races are scheduled - one for the Alyeska Cup and one for the Kensington Gold Mine Cup.
Skiers have the day off on Friday, then they'll close out the series with the Alyeska Cup giant slalom on Saturday, Feb. 19, and the Alyeska Cup slalom on Sunday, Feb. 20. Monday, Feb. 21, will be used as a weather make-up day.
Meanwhile, back in Juneau, the Juneau Ski Club still hopes to salvage part of its season. So far all four races scheduled in December and January have been postponed or canceled. Reifenstein said the mountain's getting better, and the club is hoping there's enough snow to hold the Kensington Gold Mine-Coeur Alaska Youth Ski League Championships for skiers age 12-younger on March 24-27.
The racers have been able to train in small sections of the various courses at Eaglecrest, but they haven't been able to complete a full run yet.
"Yesterday, their attitude was awesome," Reifenstein said of the shortened Post-Cash Bash Dash. "They were wearing their racing suits and they were psyched to run some gates. They've been training a lot."
Reifenstein said a lot of the mountain is in great shape for free skiing, but there's not enough snow in the areas where the club is certified to hold legal races and that creates a safety risk for the young skiers.
When a ski area wants to certify a section for legal races, Reifenstein said the course has to go through a process called homologation. A course is homologated when someone from Federation Internationale de Ski - the international ski racing federation - surveys the area to make sure the course meets standards for steepness and distance.
She said there are several sections at Eaglecrest where there's plenty of snow, but they haven't been homologated. The areas that have been certified for racing have steep patches where no snow is sticking and there are underlying tree stumps, and these areas can't be groomed by a SnowCat.
"We also tried a force majeure (to move a course), but we still wouldn't have been legal," Reifenstein said. "We can't use any of our options."
Charles Bingham can be reached at email@example.com.
JUNEAU SKI CLUB
POST-CASH BASH DASH
Unofficial results from the Juneau Ski Club's Post-Cash Bash Dash, a shortened slalom race Sunday at Eaglecrest Ski Area. Results are unofficial since the course was too short for a legal race.
Females - 1. Lucy Squibb, born 1990, first run 22.08 seconds, second run 22.89, total time 44.97; 2. Gabi Wahto, 1989, 22.17, 22.91, 45.08; 3. Kayla Harmon, 1988, 23.05, 22.61, 45.66; 4. Sarah Satre, 1974, 22.91, 22.97, 45.88; 5. Sophia Wahto, 22.95, 23.99, 46.94; 6. Julia Nave, 1987, 21.87, 25.53, 47.40; 7. K.C. Kent, 1993, 22.96, 30.83, 53.79; 8. Nicole Stangland, 1993, 26.94, 26.96, 53.90; 9. Stephanie Logan, 1992, 28.95, 29.65, 58.60; 10. Hava Rohloff, 1996, 29.63, 30.53, 1:00.16; 11. Sara Cohen, 1988, 25.15, 50.89; 1:16.04; 12. Heather Hoffman, 1992, 28.53, 51.28, 1:19.81.
Males - 1. Zach Young, 1988, 19:50, 20.47, 39.97; 2. Nathan Ord, 1990, 21.12, 20.83, 41.95; 3. Pat Shanley, 1987, 21.28, 21.84, 43.12; 4. Peter Nave, 1990, 22.05, 22.69, 44.74; 5. Matt Vandor, 1993, 22.65, 23.47, 46.12; 6. Tom Meiners, 1989, 23.42, 22.75, 46.17; 7. Peter Erickson, 1990, 23.47, 23.93, 47.40; 8. Z.J. Rohloff, 1993, 26.29, 22.97, 49.26; 9. Alex Erickson, 1993, 25.12, 25.44, 50.56; 10. Brian Vandor, 1991, 28.10, 22.75, 50.85; 11. Peter Peel, 1994, 25.65, 25.91, 51.56; 12. Tatsu Monkman, 1993, 31.24, 30.97, 1:02.21; 13. Dylan Eason, 199 31.79, 32.03, 1:03.82.