Prep cross-country skiing

The ASAA/First National Bank Nordic Ski Championships has been moved to the Government Peak Recreation Area. 

Local high school programs will be able to compete against teams outside of the district for the first time during the 2020-21 school year, and the ASAA cross-country ski championships is coming to the Valley.

Palmer High School activities director and ASAA board president Dale Ewart said the ASAA/First National Bank State Nordic Ski Championships has been moved to the Government Peak Recreation Area, and will be held Feb. 25-27. The championships had been scheduled for the same weekend at Kincaid Park in Anchorage. ASAA is not able to host the championships in Anchorage due to the municipality’s COVID-19 restrictions. There was a late effort to try to keep the state’s largest ski meet in the state’s largest city, which would have called for PCR testing for COVID-19 72 hours prior to the championships for athletes outside of the municipality. Ewart said the option was passed along to the school districts outside of Anchorage.

“Not all of the districts felt they could do it in time to make it happen,” Ewart said.

ASAA will most likely have to find another option for the state basketball championships as well. The Alaska Airlines Center on the UAA campus has been the home of the state tournament in all four classes. But COVID-19 restrictions in the municipality of Anchorage prohibit indoor sporting events that include athletes from outside the district.

“ASAA is reaching out to other districts to host state basketball due to the municipality of Anchorage’s rules for indoor activities,” Ewart said.

The Valley is an option.

“Their preference would be to host it in the Mat-Su Valley because of (how close) it is to Anchorage,” Ewart said.

A decision is expected next week.

The ASAA/First National Bank State Hockey Championships is scheduled for Feb. 18-20 at the Menard Arena in Wasilla. Palmer is one of the seven teams that have already qualified for the tourney. Houston will face Homer in a play-in game Feb. 17 at 7:30 p.m. at the Menard. The winner of that game will be the eighth team on the bracket.

Local basketball teams will be able to play teams outside of the district starting Feb. 17. Competition has been restricted to intradistrict due to COVID-19 since the beginning of the school year.

“We are going to be able to start out of district play provided that everybody wears masks and follows the mitigation plan,” Ewart said.

Ewart said a full mask mandate for prep sports went into effect Feb. 8. Everyone in the facility — fans, coaches, officials, school staff and all of the athletes — will be required to wear masks until the restriction is lifted. Local teams will be able to travel to areas such as Fairbanks and the Kenai Peninsula, and also host teams from those districts. Local teams can also host Anchorage Christian School and Grace Christian School because those private schools are not part of the Anchorage School District.

ASD programs are currently restricted to only competition within its district.

Contact Frontiersman managing editor Jeremiah Bartz at editor@frontiersman.com.

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