As Alaska’s coronavirus case count climbs, tensions are understandably high, and it’s more important than ever to be mindful of our physical and mental health. Skiing can improve both of those things, but what better way to supercharge the effort and raise one’s spirits than to have a training goal in sight?
I’m talking about Mat-Su Ski Club’s 2020 Icicle Double.
This year’s annual event will be held, as usual, at Government Peak Recreation Area, over the weekend between Christmas and New Year’s Day. Classic races will be held on Saturday, December 26, with freestyle races to follow on Sunday, December 27. Wave starts for the 30-kilometer race will begin at 11 a.m. each day, followed by the 15k at noon and the 5k after that.
The early registration fee is $50 whether entrants register for one or both days, and fees must be paid by December 15. Late registration — $60 for one day, $75 for both — ends December 25. Entry comes with an Icicle Double neck gaiter, and participants may choose different distances each day, but any skier who completes both 30k races will receive the coveted 2020 Icicle Double pint glass.
Here’s what will be different: COVID mitigation. All Icicle Double volunteers will be required to wear masks, and all entrants will be required to complete a health screening questionnaire before participating (early registrants will receive an email in advance of the event). Paper bibs will be supplied to each racer, who will use the same bib for both days (so hang onto it). Fewer start lanes and an extended start area will be provided for greater participant distancing. All participants and spectators will be strongly encouraged to wear face coverings in the start area, for the first part of the race, and at any time not actively exercising. Physical distancing is also encouraged during warm-ups and cool-downs; upon completing a race, participants should leave the finish area as soon as possible. “At risk” individuals are recommended not to participate, and MSSC will follow any new mandates or guidelines that may be issued by the CDC, DHSS, or Mat-Su Borough prior to or on race day.
There will be feed stations with individually packed snacks during the races, but unfortunately, the ski club is not able to host a raffle or awards ceremony this year.