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.

Have you got your skis ready? How about your costumes? The 14th annual Ski for Women is right around the corner!

This Nordic Ski Club of Fairbanks event, to be held on Sunday, April 3, at Birch Hill Recreation Area, aims to get women out skiing and to raise money for the Interior Alaska Center for Non-Violent Living (IAC). Event cost is a donation with $20 as the suggested donation. Money is also raised through a silent auction with lots of really great items.

New this year is pre-ski yoga (10:30am to 11:15am) at the Birch Hill Cross Country Ski Center.

It’s time for some fun homework on snow! The Second Annual Schools on Skis Tour will be held next Wednesday, March 23, at Birch Hill Recreation Area.

Festivities last from 4:30 to 6:30pm. Activities include trail skiing, obstacle courses, downhill slaloms, and a fire with s’mores and hot cocoa. All local school ski programs have been invited to participate and are asked to bring volunteers to help. Student-to-parent ratios should be no more than 10-1. Older kids will be doing a longer course, while younger kids will be doing shorter courses. All courses will be right around the stadium and doable even for kids with just basic skiing skills.  

With excellent trail conditions and warmer than expected temperatures, over 166 people skied over 2880 kilometers on Saturday at the Wentz Othodontics Ski Your Age in Kilometers, presented by Banner Health/Fairbanks Memorial Hospital.  The annual free event is an opportunity for families and friends to enjoy skiing together and also to socialize at the Birch Hill Cross Country Ski Center.

The youngest skiers to participate included Hannah Stevens (two weeks), John Stevens (20 months), Annabelle Grunan (age 2) and Andy Fry (age 4).  Tom Wickwire (age 71) was the oldest.  Glynn Honer was the only grandparent to ski with her three grandchildren: Moss Schuttner, Edel Schuttner and Yarrow Schuttner.

A record setting number of skiers under the age of 20 skied their age or more.  55 young skiers, some skiing twice their age or more, reached either the Platinum (top) or Gold (second) achievement levels.  60 skiers of all ages reached the Platinum level, while 14 reached the Gold level, 47 reached the Silver level, and 26 reached the Bronze level.

Junior Nordics to Hold Monday Night Sessions at UAF

 

Junior Nordics aren’t just for Birch Hill anymore. Starting in November (2015), Junior Nordic sessions will be held at the University of Alaska Fairbanks on Monday nights.

 

The class will be limited to 50, so sign up soon if you are interested. Register by going to the Nordic Ski Club of Fairbanks website (http://www.nscfairbanks.org/) and clicking on the Learn > Junior Nordic Registration dropdown menu. Registration will be done only online this year.

 

The size limit has been set in part because the facilities at UAF are more limited than at Birch Hill. The warming hut at UAF is smaller and the bathroom facilities are in another building.

 

Temperatures often tend to be chillier at UAF than at Birch Hill, so the temperature cut-off for UAF classes will be -10F rather than the -5F below at Birch Hill. However, breezes tend to be less at UAF than at Birch Hill, so the wind chill should also be less.

 

For more information contact Sally Endestad, Junior Nordics coordinator (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; 907/371-9564).    

Stoltz Dental Group would like to invite Nordic Ski Club of Fairbanks members to join us in a “pay it forward” day in honor of Joan Hornig and Mike Emers, and their recent house fire tragedy.  

Our office will be offering dental services (exam, x-rays, fillings, crowns) for a reduced rate, and you will be given a fee estimate at a pre-screening exam.  This estimate will be the suggested donation amount that will be paid in the form of a check only at the time of service.  Stoltz Dental will collect and mail all money directly to the Emers family. Click "Read more" for more details.

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