Excellent skiing conditions and clear skies heralded in the 13th annual Ski Your Age event at the Birch Hill Cross Country Ski Center on December 26th. More than 160 skiers participated in the free event, organized by Fairbanks Cross Country (FXC), the junior race-training program of the Nordic Ski Club of Fairbanks (NSCF).

     

Skiers of all ages, from 1-70, skied well over 3000 kilometers in this event that provides the opportunity for folks to get outside, be active, and to socialize and share food and drinks. Families and friends enjoyed the event, which is offered free to participants, though donations are accepted to benefit FXC, which provided hot drinks and chili. Participants brought potluck dishes as well.

       The support of Wentz Orthodontics and Edward Jones financial advisor Christopher Knott was greatly appreciated by FXC, as this is one of the annual fundraisers for the team. Participants can record their kilometers skied between 10:00 AM and 4:00 PM, taking breaks for snacks, drinks and potluck items in the Birch Hill Cross Country Ski Center. Skiers can track their kilometers in categories such as couple, individual, mother-daughter, mother-son, father-daughter, father- son, whole family, and even grandparent-grandchild. Skiers were also recognized for achieving the platinum, gold, silver and bronze levels of kilometers skied. 

Know how to ski? Can you strap on a pair of snowshoes? If so, we’ve got a great event for you! 

The Birch Hill Shuski, the first race of the winter TRY-athlon Series, will have two types of races. One is competitive and one is more relaxed. Both are run at the same time.  The Competitive Race includes a 5-kilometer skate ski, a 3-kilometer snowshoe, and a 5-kilometer classic ski. The Family Fun Race includes a 1-kilometer freestyle ski, a 1-kilometer snowshoe, and a 1-kilometer freestyle ski (freestyle means you get to choose whether to skate or classic).

If you like skiing on the nicely groomed trails at Birch Hill Recreation Area, then show your thankfulness with a donation to the Trails Fund. 

There’s snow on the trails. Not much snow, but enough to go skiing. And why is that? Because the Nordic Ski Club of Fairbanks, with your help, takes great care of the trails at Birch Hill Recreation Area. We couldn’t do this without support. 

The Nordic Ski Club of Fairbanks does all the grooming at Birch Hill—more than 40 kilometers of trails. That grooming is paid for entirely through donations. Our season fundraising goal is $50,000. Many people have already donated. If you haven’t donated yet, please do so. 

GROOMING EXPENSES ADD UP

Our ski season is weeks to months longer than most places Outside. Program costs include labor, fuel, and equipment maintenance and replacement. The club NEEDS your donations to continue grooming.

The Fairbanks Nordic Ski Patrol is seeking Nordic skiers for volunteer patrolling during the 2016-17 NSCF competition season at Birch Hill Recreation Center.  

The Fairbanks Nordic Ski Patrol (FNSP) is a member of the National Ski Patrol organization and partners with NSCF in providing emergency care during club-sponsored competitive events at Birch Hill.  No skiing ability is necessary for patrolling, though familiarization with race venues and both FNSP/NSCF protocols are very important. 

Come help celebrate the new ski season at Ski Fest on Saturday, November 12, with the Nordic Ski Club of Fairbanks and the Alaska Nanooks, the cross country ski team of the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Ski Fest is a joint event that celebrates the ski club, the Nanooks, and cross country skiing in Fairbanks. 

The event is free and starts at 1pm. Food will be served in the Birch Hill Cross Country Ski Center. Soup and bread are provided. Attendees are asked to bring a dessert to share. Inside the ski center, people can also learn all about what the ski club has to offer, including Junior Nordics, Adult Lessons, FXC, races, ski tours, and trail grooming. The Nanooks will also be selling retired UAF ski gear and accepting new and renewing memberships for the UAF Ski Team Booster Club.  

As you have probably already heard, the University of Alaska administration is proposing to cut the UAF and UAA cross country ski teams as part of a cost-cutting measure. The UAF Nanooks are close partners with the Nordic Ski Club of Fairbanks. Our joint Ski Fest is coming up in just a couple of weeks on November 12. Skiers who have passed through our Junior Nordics and FXC programs have earned spots, including scholarships, on the Nanooks. 

The proposal has a couple of hurdles to clear before it becomes reality. 

  • The UA Board of Regents must approve it.
  • The NCAA Membership Committee must approve a waiver that would allow each campus to have less than the minimum 10 team sports. 

If you would like to comment or otherwise take action on this proposal, here are some things you can do:

Do you need skis?  Then come to the West Valley High School Ski Swap.
 
When:  Saturday October 22 - 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Where:  West Valley High School - 3800 Geist Road
Drop off equipment to sell: Friday 6-9 p.m. and Saturday 8-9:30 a.m.
20% of sales goes to support the West Valley Ski Team
 
 

If you haven’t been to Birch Hill Recreation Area this summer, be prepared for some big changes when you do finally come. 

Several projects by the Nordic Ski Club of Fairbanks and the Fairbanks North Star Borough have been taking place. There’s too much happening to adequately put it all in one story, so we have three. (A map below shows where the work is happening):

A new equipment building is being constructed very close to the recreation area driveway entrance. 

The main purpose of this building will house the ski club grooming equipment. With the addition of the large PistenBully groomer, the old building got very cramped and some equipment had to be stored outside. The new building will allow our dedicated groomers to move around more easily while storing more equipment inside. The building will also have an enclosed, secured compound for cold storage of grooming equipment and for refueling of equipment. 

The building will also have an office and fully equipped bathroom. Current completion date for the building is November or December of this year. 

Part of the old equipment building will be used for storage for the borough Parks and Recreation Department. The rest may be used as an additional waxing area and equipment storage for competitive events. 

The Nordic Ski Club of Fairbanks and the Fairbanks North Star Borough worked together to obtain funding for the building, which came from a state grant as well as from grants from the Rasmuson Foundation, Arctic Winter Games Legacy fund, and Tanana Valley Youth Sports. PDC Engineering has also donated hours and hours of time to this project. 

By John Estle

In addition to the trail modifications being done on the Birch Hill Recreation Area trails, a major new trail is being constructed on Fort Wainwright lands on the south side of Birch Hill.  This new loop trail is currently being called the “Sunnyside Trail” because it will be one of the few trails on Birch Hill where someone skiing the trail can actually see the sun during the depths of winter.

Funding for the trail comes from a grant made to the NSCF by the Rasmuson Foundation.  The trail is being built by Jon Underwood and his trail construction company, Happy Trails.  Construction started in the second half of July and was virtually complete by the end of August.

The route was originally laid out in 1995 by John Estle, when the club received permission to create the trail as a result of a meeting between the Fairbanks North Star Borough mayor and the Fort Wainwright garrison commander.  The trail was cleared that same year and the next year by a Bureau of Land Management hotshot crew.  

By John Estle

If you were on the Jim Whisenhant Ski Trails at Birch Hill Recreation Area this summer, you no doubt noticed that work was being done on the trails, specifically:

• Creation of a short segment of new trail in the White Bear Access area between the bottom of Sidewinder and the White Bear entrance sign

• Creation of a short segment of new trail at the north end of the first outbound leg of the North 40

• Widening and smoothing on the final 500 meters of the North 40

• Widening and smoothing on the first 100 meters of the Tommyknocker and the full length of the Tommyknocker Extension

• Widening, smoothing and straightening the final climb on the Competition Loop

• Creation of a short segment of trail toward the north end of the Warmup Loop

 

Why the work?  There are two reasons.  The first is that we needed to prepare courses for the 2017 US Ski & Snowboard Association (USSA) Distance National Championships and SuperTour Finals, scheduled for March 27-April 2, 2017.  The second, but equally important reason, is to improve the “groomability” of those trails.

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