• Lady Mariner team skis to second and third at Skyview Invitational
By Sean Pearson
With temperatures on the Kenai Peninsula consistently oscillating between the freeze/thaw cycle, conditions for spring crust skiing are almost perfect.
Unfortunately, it’s only January.
The wet and rainy conditions at last weekend’s Skyview Invitational Cross-Country Ski Meet at Tsalteshi Trails in Soldotna made the 6-kilometer skate ski and 7.5-kilometer classic ski a bit more formidable than usual. Choosing the right wax, navigating unforgiving slush areas and trying to not overheat while skiing proved to be some of the more challenging aspects of the meet.
Still, the hardy high school skiers rose to the occasion – and Homer was no exception.
“It was incredibly rainy on Saturday, but I was very happy with my performances,” said Mariner skier Cassidy Soistman. “It’s kinda hard to train, but at least we had a bunch of snow for awhile. I guess we’ll see how the trails are now. They were great before the rain though.”
Soistman led the way for Homer on Saturday with an eighth-place finish in the 7.5k classic races and a time of 30 minutes, 26 seconds. She placed tenth in the 6k skate race the day before.
“I love classic races because they are less stressful for me,” she explained. “I like short skate races and long classics, but it got pretty hot out there in the longer race.”
Barae Hirsch was the highest placing Mariner skier, finishing fifth in the skate race with a time of 17:52. She placed ninth in Saturday’s classic race, helping the team to an overall third-place finish in the classic competition. The Lady Mariners took second in the skate ski. Grace Christian finished first on both days.
On the boy’s side of the competition, Brian Rowe placed sixth in Friday’s 6k skate ski with a time of 15:27. On Saturday, however, Homer’s highest finisher for the boys was Ghen Sasakura, who completed the 10k classic in 34:28.
Soistman said the team is “awesome” because everyone is so supportive of each other.
“Including the varsity and JV teams, we have four races at every meet and we all go out and watch,” she said. “We bond a lot, whether during practice, on the bus, in a hotel room or warming up for a race. We’re all one big family.”
As for the sport of cross-country skiing itself, Soistman said she finds it very calming.
“It’s a real physical challenge,” she said. “So the feeling after the race is the best feeling ever.”
Mariner skiers take a short break from their regular racing season to take part in the third and fourth Besh Cup races at Tsalteshi this weekend. Saturday begins with a freestyle sprint, while Sunday features a mass-start classic event with men skiing 15 kilometers and women 7.5 kilometers.
Girls 6-kilometer skate ski
5. Barae Hirsch, 17:52; 8. Aspen Daigle, 18:58; 10. Cassidy Soistman, 19:07; 24. Rachel Ellert, 20:42; 30. Tisha Lovett, 20:58; 40. Lydia Arndt, 23:16.
Boys 6k skate
Homer finishers: 6. Brian Rowe, 15:27; 16. Ghen Sasakura, 16:37; 23. Jake Worsfold, 17:02; 45. Tianen Lu, 20:01.
Girls 7.5k classic
8. Cassidy Soistman, 30:26; 9. Barae Hirsch, 30:29; 11. Aspen Daigle, 31:03; 27. Rachel Ellert, 35:29; 39. Tisha Lovett, 40:01; 41. Lydia Arndt, 45:47.
Boys 10-kilometer classic
13. Ghen Sasakura, 34:28; 28. Jake Worsfold, 37:24; 42. Tianen Lu, 48:31.
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