Alaska has so many wonderful places to visit and unique environments to be a part of, and all of it seems to come through skiing or some form of great activity. Last weekend I was fortunate enough to visit Valdez (pronounced Val-deez), a little coastal town which sits on a bay called the Prince William Sound surrounded by the Chugach Mountains. The Sound is an amazing body of water made up of tiny islands and fjords, and the Chugach are simply huge, so it creates breathtaking scenery. Sadly Valdez was also the location of one of the worst oil spills ever seen in 1989, but thankfully it seems back to its splendid vistas.
On Friday I headed down with Lauren and two other APU legends Lex Treinen and Rosie Frankowski for the 6 hour drive from Anchorage . We were signed up for a two-day stage race with a 20km classic on the first day and a 15km skate the second day; the winner was the combined fastest skier on both days.
Lex had found us a rather quirky B&B to stay for the weekend but it was right next to the trails which was awesome.
The race is called the Qaniq Challenge and is in just its second year of operation but the organisers are wonderful people with huge visions and lots of enthusiasm so it really was a great time. The first day’s course started very hilly and steep but then the final half was flat along the tidal river and ocean. Four of the men–including myself–decided to double pole and it paid off with all of us in the top four. I was third after day one which I was really pleased with. Day two was a mass start skate on a super fast course winding through the forest; the same four of us formed a breakaway pack and held the lead until the end where it came down to a four way drag race between myself and 3 other APU athletes. I was third again and claimed third overall for the weekend, to the tune of a $500 prize, which I was stoked with! Lauren also was third and rounding out our successful little road trip Lex and Rosie were both first!
That night we had a great award banquet held in a bar on the harbour. The great thing about the award banquet was that it was not only for the athletes but also the organisers and volunteers so it was really nice to meet all the locals and behind-the-scene organisers!
The weekend was a blast, topped off with another spectacular drive home. The race is well worth doing for anyone considering it and I hope to go back there again next year!
Train hard, rest easy, live for the moment.