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 ( 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.

Three Alaska-based films will be featured in the Backcountry Film Festival showing at Birch Hill on Saturday, January 24.

The showing, put on by the Nordic Ski Club of Fairbanks (NSCF), will start at 7pm in the Birch Hill Cross Country Ski Center. Doors open at 6pm. Besides being great fun, this event serves as a fundraiser for the NSCF and the Winter Wildlands Alliance. Tickets are $15 single, $35 family.

Now in its 10th year the Winter Wildlands Alliance Backcountry Film Festival celebrates the human-powered winter experience through film. Of the nine touring films this season, at least three take place in Alaska.


Come to the annual Winter Wildlands Alliance Backcountry Film Festival, sponsored by the Nordic Ski Club of Fairbanks, this Saturday night, the 25th of January, at the Birch Hill Cross Country Ski Center. Doors open at 6PM, and the films begin at 7PM.

Admission is $15 per person. Children six and younger are free. Tasty, locally-brewed HooDoo beer will be available for a donation, and snacks will be available for purchase

The first part of the program features nine short films ranging in length from two to eight minutes.  The second part of the program is a one-hour film called "Valhalla."

All films focus on human-powered, back country winter recreation, and feature outstanding videography and amazing scenery and some truly amazing action.

Come and help support the Nordic Ski club of Fairbanks so that it can continue to provide great instructional programs and high-quality trail grooming - and enjoy some great backcountry action while doing so.

The popular Birch Hill Ski Temperature app is now available for Android devices! Android users can now find all of the useful Birch Hill weather information all in one place using this app. With temperatures, forecast, trails, news, and webcam this app is perfect for any skier. Check it out on Google Play! 


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