The Seward Phoenix Log - News of the Eastern Kenai Peninsula since 1966

By Marc Swanson
Seahawk Ski Coach 

Seahawk skiers find regions a tall order

 

JIM PFEIFFENBERGER | SEAHAWKS SKI TEAM

Rico Steibner is tucked into a smooth glide on his last meet with the Seahawks Ski Team. The German exchange student finished out his skiing stint with a celebratory face plant after the finish line.

This past weekend the Seahawk skiers competed at Look Out Mountain in Homer with eight other schools from Region 3 schools. It was an amazing race for Seward skiers.

First a bit of understanding of what “amazing” consists of. If you haven’t been to this Nordic ski area, it is plastered on top of Ohlsen Mountain with convoluted runs that dive down and climb back up. They have runs amply named Double Cross, Wild Thing, The Big Hurt, and the one that sends shivers up the back –The Beast. All told, during a 5 to 7.5 kilometer race skiers can expect to climb more than 400 vertical feet. While going fast. With skis on. Anyone that competes on this trail system deserves a ribbon.

The Friday race, a 5k classic race in which kick wax is everything, belonged to skier Nick Zweifel. Skiing the junior varsity field, faced with changing conditions, failing wax, and 46 other skiers vying for the pole position, Nick used his wrestling bulk to power up the hills to finish on the podium in eighth place with a time of 18 minutes, 56 seconds.

But it was the next day, the skate race, when the Seahawks really kicked it into gear. In this extremely aerobic competition, glide is everything. The temperatures turned out much colder than expected, so it was a scramble rewaxing to hopefully match a day of changing conditions.

Miles Knotek was up first in the varsity boys race. This race was a mass start – that means everyone leaves as a seething mass of flailing poles and skis. At first Knotek assumed a upper middle position of the pack. However, it wasn’t to stay that way. Seeing him scream down the first set of slopes we realized, yeah, the wax was right. Seeing him scream down the second set we realized there was more than wax going on – he was hungry. Knotek simply had the ski of his career passing skiers he’d never glimpsed on the race trail. This time it was their turn to eat his snowy dust. He broke the ribbon in 23rd position with 23:17 in the 7.5k race.

Lindsey Kromrey, racing the girls varsity 5k skate held her field with a 24th position with a time of 18:53. But the girl’s glory belongs to Laura Dyer. Last week in Borough, Dryer had several tough downhill stretches where face met snow. Others would perhaps return to the course with a big of trepidation. But not Dyer. She attacked the course not only qualifying to go on to State but making it to the podium in ninth place. It was an amazing race. Later she recounted that she was determined not to let The Beast beat her this week. At one point Dyer looked up and realized she had successfully climbed the grueling 187 vertical feet without knowing it. She had slayed The Beast. Alice Pfeiffenberger and Brooke Estes had personal best finishes at 24th and 14th position respectively. Seems like all the Seahawks skiers had come to terms with The Beast.

But the real story happened in the 7.5k junior varsity boys race. Nick Zweifel, confidence high from his finish the day prior, picked off the pole position at the mass start and kept skiing the edge even after being passed by a couple skiers. But skiing the edge without abandon means courting with potential disaster. Rounding a steep corner Zweifel found a downed skier blocking the trail. Nick tried to shoot a thin open slice of trail but was catapulted down into the off-trail powder allowing team mate Jerry Swanson to pass. Now to say there is a bit of a team rivalry here, is to put it mildly. Bragging rights have been exchanged between the two all season. Now Nick found himself in a very unenviable position: sandwiched between Swanson and within eyesight of Dylan Gillespie. Swanson seeing this as an opportunity, Gillespie seeing it as target. Whatever. The end result was that Zweifel took a bullet for the team causing Swanson and Dylan to have the best ski of the year. Swanson pulled in a podium finishing eighth place at 25:37 and Gillespie finished in 15th, 78 seconds later. Nothing wrong with Nick’s 12th place finish. Swanson and Gillespie both send their regards – thanks dude.

Rico Steibner, finished his Nordic ski career with a fine race in 33rd position. Our German teammate is truly the star of the team showing the greatest improvement of any on the team. He started the season back in November spending most of his first ski falling flat on his back. Now Rico is a fine competitive skier. That said, as he broke the ribbon he ended his Alaska ski career the way he began – careening off the trail and falling face first in the snow. We love ya Rico!

This week is the final week in the Nordic ski season. Qualifying skiers will represent the Seward Seahawks at the state competition in Anchorage. Stay tuned next week to read how Seward stacks up to some of the finest skiers in the nation.

Results

Boys 5 K Classic (Friday)

Varsity: 38, Miles Knotek, 18:01

JIM PFEIFFENBERGER | SEAHAWKS SKI TEAM

Lindsey Kromrey powers toward the finish line leaving behind over half the field in her wake. The Seward High School senior is making her presence known in meets across Southcentral Alaska.

JV: 8, Nick Zweifel, 18:56, 16, Jerry Swanson, 19:41, 28, Dylan Gillespie, 21:00, 34, Rico Steibner, 22:221

Girls 5 K Classic (Friday)

Varsity: 22, Lindsey Kromrey, 20:50

JV: 14, Laura Dyer, 24:01, 22, Brooke Estes, 25:28, 31, Alice Pfeiffenberger, 26:45

Girls 5 K Skate

Varsity: 24, Lindsey Kromrey, 18:53

JV: 9, Laura Dyer, 21:42, 14, Brooke Estes, 22:18, 24, Alice Pfeiffenberger, 23:38

Boys 7.5 K Skate (Saturday)

Varsity: 23, Miles Knotek, 23:17

JV: 8, Jerry Swanson, 25:37, 12, Nick Zweifel, 26:35, 15, Dylan Gillespie, 26:55, 33, Rico Steibner, 30:49

 

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