GPRA hosted several FIS-sanctioned races this season. The new Competition Loops made this possible. We are considering some "tune-ups" to the trails, based on the recommendations of FIS course homolugation officials. These changes would make homolugation (certification to international standards) possible for a 7.5 km course.The changes are: the widening of the Staci's Bridge corner exiting the stadium onto the Matanuska Loop; and addition of a few hundred meters of new trail connecting the Matanuska Loop to the Denali Loop, allowing a more hilly finish for high-level compettions.
A new segment of downhill-only Singletrack bike trail is planned for construction this summer at GPRA. Valley Mountain Bikers and Hikers are driving this project.
On February 20th the Rocky Mountain Intercollegiate Ski Association/NCAA 5km and 10km freestyle (skate) races were hosted by the Mat-Su Ski Club at GPRA. Some of the best college racers in the country competed.This was the second FIS-sanctioned race held at GPRA this season.
Region III High School Nordic Ski Championship Races were on February 8-9, Friday and Saturday at GRPA.
Some of the GPRA trails were closed during the races, fortunately Archangel Road and the Moose Range were both well-groomed (and busy!) alternatives.
Mat-Su Ski Club 2018 ICICLE DOUBLE
Excellent large exercise day at Saturday's first half of the 2018 Icicle
Double on December 29. The classic racers pushed several inches of
morning-fallen snow with each glide. Thirty-km racers did a hilly
four-lap tour of the Denali, Matanuska, and part of the Susitna.
Fifteen-km racers did the same course twice, while 5-km racers rounded a
course on the Matanuska and Susitna.
Icicle Double day two, Sunday freestyle, found racers doubling up on the 5, 15, and 30k courses at GPRA. The skate deck was meticulously groomed, soft but not brutally so, and faster with every skier's passage. Winds were light, after a pre-dawn wind rocked the trees.
Seventy-seven racers enjoyed the loong climb at the season-starter Race to the Outhouse at the Independence Mine at Hatcher Pass on a fine snowy Saturday morning.
Thanks to the Race Volunteers and thanks to everybody for coming out.
5KM Freestyle or 5KM classic.
Location: Hatcher Pass
Rifle Range at GPRA?
The State of Alaska Department of Natural Resources is considering a change to State law, in order to make it legal to build a Biathlon Rifle Range at GPRA. A public comment period closed Sept 19th, 2018.
The Mat-Su Ski Club asked that the change make legal only 22-caliber rifles, restrict allowed ammunition to low-power subsonic rounds (i.e. quiet), and to restrict range operations to biathlon ski races and practice sessions with a range officer present.
Support for this change is part of the Club's early stage effort to establish a Biathlon program here in the Valley.
Our efforts to bring a Biathlon facility to GPRA move steadily ahead. We are working with the Mat-Su Borough to identify a specific area within GPRA where a change to State law will allow a range. We have also applied for a grant for two laser biathlon rifles.
Nordic Terrain Park OPENING At GPRA this winter
The Mat-Su Ski Club built a new Nordic Terrain Park
at GPRA this summer. These features are becoming common at Nordic areas. They are a ton of fun for kids, while Junior Nordic
coaches use the variety of bumps and squiggles to develop essential ski
The synergy with the Club's work completing the Comp Loops, and the happy circumstance of suitable terrain near the parking lot and Chalet, made it possible.
We designed the Park with an addition of two light poles to the LED lighting system at GPRA. In the end we decided not to install lighting this year. Even with generous support from local business, lighting the park would have cost the Club about $9000, to put up two additional light poles (which we already have), and purchase the additional materials.
During the ski season we will be shoveling snow, and shaping snow with the groomer, as we learn what shapes work, and what is the best fun.
The Nordic Terrain Park is on the Pioneer trail, just across the first bridge, only a few hundred feet from the parking lot.
New Ski Trail at GPRA
A new 2.3-km Winter-Only ski loop at GPRA, south of the existing ski and bike loops is now being groomed. It is named the Flattop Loop. This unlighted loop is open to skiers only.
An all-volunteer crew of Boy Scouts and others organized by Calum Colver (aided by the saws of Werner and Strabel) built the trail. They built five bridges across little creeks, and cleared the way through open forest, thick alders, pleasant meadows, devils club; wherever the flagging led. The Mat-Su Ski Club planned and funded the trail. Four hundred volunteer man hours went into the trail. The trail is designed to be used only when the ground is frozen. This new trail is more primitive, and narrower, than the other ski trails. The trail surface is not machine-smoothed like the older trails, so a good bit of snow will be needed before grooming, more than the other trails.
Traffic on part of the trail is two-way this winter. We hope to complete the loop next summer, making it a complete loop with one-way traffic throughout. As it is now, the 700-meter-long two-way-travel part of the new trail starts at the bottom of the Eska Loop and leads to a 900-meter long one-way loop part. The far end of the loop section intersects the Susitna Ski Loop.
The two-way traffic part of the trail is relatively flat, while the loop section is a steady gentle climb on one side, with a surprisingly sporty descent on the other.
New Equipment for MSSC delivered
The Ski Club bought it's second most expensive piece of equipment yet. And it is a ... lawnmower. Well, you've got to do what you've got to do. And the trails need mowed, or they will revert back to jungle. After trail expansion at GPRA, mowing with a homeowners garden tractor was becoming ludicrous. So, by combining a $10,000 grant from the Mat-Su Borough Bed Tax Fund with $23,000 provided by our members, we purchased a new a diesel-powered utility tractor with an 8-foot wide cutting deck out front and superwide floaty turf tires to maintain the 35 acres of ski trails, and world-class cross-country-croquet (xcc) grounds, at GPRA. The close-mowed ski trails are a popular summer running, strolling, dog-walking, and picnicking destination for locals and tourists alike.
MAt-Su Borough asks State of Alaska for trail easements linking GPRA to Skeetawk
The Alaska DNR is considering granting to the Mat-Su Borough a trail easement for 12.3 km (7.6 miles) of non-motorized multi-use trail connecting the established multi-use trail system at GPRA with the Skeetawk alpine ski area and the Sixteen-Mile mountain bike trail. A public comment period closed on August 6, 2018.
These trails are envisioned as mountain bike trails, with steep twisting downhill sections similar to the "16-Mile" downhill-thrill bike trail. The long term plan for Skeetawk is a chair lift providing access to the top of the downhill bike runs. The application document describes the trails as non-motorized multi-use.
The map shows the proposed trails in bold red lines and squiggles. The proposed trails are on both Borough-owned and State-owned land.
Existing trails at GPRA, and the 16-mile downhill bike trail, are shown in faint red squiggles. The yellow blocks of land are Borough-owned. The requested easements are where the bold red lines cross State-owned land.
The Borough has included the proposed trails in it's medium-term plans. Actual location of the parts of the trail on the Borough's land is yet to be determined. No funding for trail building is in place, as far as we know.
Comp Loop Construction at GPRA Completed
Years of planning and finding funding resulted in the start of Comp Loop construction in 2017. Dedicated volunteers worked through the summer of 2107, wrestling the heavy equipment in that soggy season. Two weekends of mass manual labor by Club members just before the ground froze brought the trails to a skiable condition (thanks snowy winter!) for the 17/18 season.
Lots of work remained for this just-ended summer; regrading sections of the trail, dealing with drainage issues, building another bridge, installing signage and spreading grass seed. We had an excavator, dozer, and skidsteer rented and busy (volunteer operators) for almost two months this summer. Julie Colver and the Adventure Scouts she organized worked for over 300 women-hours painting and installing the surprisingly numerous new trail signs on the Comp Loops and in the stadium area.
A well-attended work party on October 9th pretty much finished the job. Several thousand volunteer hours, and several hundred thousand dollars of cash and in-kind donations made this possible. Hooray, Thank You, and thank goodness it is finally over.
Comp Loop Sponsors