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April 10, 2021

Where we are

We, meaning you, the hundreds of volunteers and members who make the Mat-Su Ski Club and its events happen, accomplished a lot this season. And its not even over yet: there is at least a month of grooming left!

The Blue Crew race timing and course crew became proficient with our upgraded equipment, demonstrated again that they can dependably host high-level races in a challenging environment, and deepened our working relationship with other Nordic skiing and school athletic associations. Several new groomers, including drivers for the PistenBully, came on board and gained experience at Independence and GPRA. We replaced a snowmobile and an ATV, and ordered a new wide Ginzu groomer to complement the new ATV. We expanded the Nordic trails at GPRA last summer by completing the Flattop Loop and adding the Flattop Access (Mr. Toad's Wild Ride redux) that provides another route to the Mt. Streams trails and opens new loop routes. Adult Ski Lessons and the Junior Nordic program were as big as ever, despite the special challenges.
We are looking forward to the strong possibility of the Mat-Su Borough hosting the Arctic Winter Games in 2024. If the Games come to the Valley, they may drive some infrastructure changes at GPRA.
And, to our dismay, the club's Administrator is moving on soon. Huge thanks from the board to her for stepping in to take care of business and for a job well done.

We can't say it enough, thanks again to all of you who joined the club, bought trail pins, and donated money and your time.

Groomer News

Mat-Su Ski Club volunteers groomed for 193 hours in March, bringing the season total to 1167 hours so far. The PistenBully 100 is still at GPRA, and thank goodness, without it this spring's heavy snowfalls would have been hard to handle. Unfortunately it broke down just before the latest storm arrived. Replacement parts are expected to arrive from Austria, and the PB repaired, within a week. The ATV-groomers were challenged at first, but are now making great corduroy at GPRA. Some cold mid-winter style nights this last week helped.

The Moose Range grooming crew has really been after it this winter, racking up over 300 hours by the end of March - a hundred more than all of last winter, and they are still at it, providing great (Range-style) skiing and biking and walking winter trails.

We put Archangel Road grooming on hold in late March due to heavy snowfalls. Then the early-April monster storm arrived. The Palmer-Fishhook road to Hatcher Pass is still blocked by the avalanches from that storm, and probably won't be dug out until the middle of April. We know from air photos that Archangel Road is also covered over a 300-yard stretch by avalanche debris. That will present challenges to reestablish the groomed trail. Last year we groomed Archangel Road until May 7th, when the snow just got too soft.

Independence Mine was groomed just a few days before the early-April road-closing avalanches. We will see what awaits us when the road reopens! We will move the PistenBully to Independence Mine pretty soon, when it is no longer most useful at GPRA. Independence groomers will delight.This year the State is expected to plow the final mile of road (our ski trail to the mine loops) to Independence Mine in mid to late May. We will continue to groom until then.

Groomer Highlight

Mat-Su Ski Club GROOMER: Chris Jones
Occupation: Retired PE Teacher - skier, groomer, hiker, biker, kayaker, RV’r, musician, ski coach, volleyball official, husband, father, brother, friend. Awesome athlete, and generally awesome all around...

I’m 68 years young, and got into grooming because of xc skiing and love nicely manicured ski trails and supple corduroy. Plus, it helps me stay connected to a lot of great people as well as ski meets. I prefer to use the Mat-Su Ski Club’s tracked ATV’s most times. Independence Mine is my fav but enjoy grooming any of our trails. I hate using sno-go’s for grooming. I’ve not witnessed very many critters on the trail while grooming. Two owls, couple moose (off the trail), a few humanoids.

I once got stuck, majorly, while on a 7 hr+ marathon groom of Archangel rd. Except for the beautiful snow falling, it was an unpleasant adventure. There was 2-3 feet of fresh snow and, at that time, MSSC was still grooming beyond the non-motorized section up the mountain to the outhouse gate. After packing the trail with the snow-go for two hours and getting stuck several times, I commenced to groom and got stuck (uh-gin) on the uphill just passed the bridge. Finally got un-stuck, finished grooming, and went home to rest my body. And get ready to ski!

I truly enjoy working with the team of groomers and grooming ski trails in general, and plan to do so as long as they’ll have me. Think snow! —Chris Jones

Race to the Outhouse #2 2021

Here is a picture of the Blue Crew, our all-volunteer race timing and course crew nearing the end of their biggest season ever.
The Mat-Su Ski Club's Nordic race season wrapped up with the annual RTTO#2 on April 3rd. Traditionally held at Archangel Road, it was relocated due to snow and trail conditions.

The day of the 8th-ish annual springtime bookend of the Race to the Outhouse series dawned to a thickening snowstorm at the Government Peak Recreation Center. By the 11 am start time several centimeters of lightweight fluff covered the freshly and perfectly PistenBully-groomed trails, and snow continued to fall. A light wind blew through the trees along the steeply hilled 7.5 km course as an even dozen athletes gathered far apart in the stadium. The two participants in the skiathlon started first on their 15 K adventure, blazing out of the stadium a minute apart. That duo circled the course twice, with Issac Kristich eventually edging out Randel Bladel. The classic division was handily won by Lydia Lester. The bulk of the participants were from the APU Nordic Ski Program and racing in the Freestyle division where Hatcher Menkens led the pack.

Host Family

We know of an Italian exchange student needing a host family. She has been accepted to attend Colony High School next winter, and will arrive here in August. She's an orienteerer, a Nordic racer, and a top student. Contact info@matsuski.org or Ed Strabel if you would like to see her Student Profile. Contact Mary Primbs of the Pan-Atlantic Foundation if you want more info about the program.

Outerlimits at GPRA

Do you want to do a 10k at GPRA without repeating any trail sections? Try the Outerlimits! It is a challenging and varied 10.2 km course with a lot of climbing. One starts by rounding the Pioneer Loop, then zips through the Nordic Terrain Park to the wide-as-a-freeway Denali Loop, around the Mitten to the Matanuska and Susitna Loops, descending to the narrower twisty old-school Mt. Streams and Flattop Loops, finally finishing with a honk up the Eska. Very pleasing.

Junior Nordics final ski return day changed

You probably already noticed - we have a lot of late-season snow. That is why the final return day for rented equipment is rescheduled for Thursday May 6th and Friday May 7th @ 6pm to 7:30 pm at Government Peak Recreation Area. All rented Mat-Su Ski Club Junior Nordic skis and poles and Backcountry Bike & Ski boots must be returned. Use this signup to schedule your personal return time, and please be on time, to give our volunteers the help they deserve. The April 17th return date is canceled.

Junior Nordic parents can give us feedback on how we did this year by filling out this parent survey. Each response is read and taken into account for planning purposes and are confidential. Thanks for helping the committee plan for next year!

Borough parking passes

Remember - 8 hours of volunteer trail work recorded by the Mat-Su Ski Club or tValley Mountain Bikers and Hikers (VMBaH) earns one a 2022 Mat-Su Borough parking pass, custom delivered to your snailmail box. All you have to do is record your name and address and hours on the appropriate Club's paperwork. Watch for emails and postings about trail work opportunities this summer.
Mat-Su Ski Club making corduroy in the Moose Range, April 5th.
Photo by Hatcher Pass Avalanche Center, annotations by Mat-Su Ski Club
In between GPRA and Skeetawk, April 9
GPRA 7pm yesterday, April 9.

New Donors in March and early April

Bronze Donors
Warren E. Petrasek

Herb Schroeder & Linda Lazzell
Laurie Silfven

Donate here