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The Alaska Ski for Women Race Hot

Alaska_Ski_for_WomenSunflowers ski for the Alaska Ski for Women EventAs spectators watched Pipi Longstocking, Minnie Mouse and giant vegetables whiz past them at Kincaid Park on February 6th, they may have been unsure if they were watching a ski race or a Halloween party.

No, Halloween didn’t come early this year. They were indeed watching one of the more exciting and original North American cross-country ski races: Alaska Ski For Women race.

The annual event in its 15th year is an all women’s race that takes place at Kincaid Park in Anchorage Alaska. This year the race saw 1,400 women cross the finish line of the relatively tame 2.4-mile course, many of whom were dressed in clever costumes including Vikings and Sock Monkies.

While some of the competitors come to race—the winning skiers completed the course in a blazing fast 11 minutes--many took over an hour, taking in the various costumes whizzing by on skis. Other participants took overskiwomen an hour because of their costumes. Bulky, cumbersome costumes—like Gail Heineman’s giant carrot outfit—can be tricky to cross-country ski in. Heineman was part of the Environmental Network team, which included other veggies like pea pods, mushrooms and kale.

Overall, the diverse group of skiers made for a fun and welcoming atmosphere. The event founders Sally Burkholder and Ann Mize, did the course twice—once on classic skis and once on skate skis. Fifteen years after the inaugural event, Burkholder and Mize continue to stress their simple message: "XC Skiing, Costumes, Camaraderie and a Cause.”

The Alaska Ski for Women event does not charge an entrance fee and seems to be more about camaraderie and fun than any specific cause. 28 corporate and family sponsors make the event possible. Participants can make an optional donation to private charities that work to prevent domestic violence.

Fifteen years ago, hardly anyone wore a costume to the event, now the clever and goofy outfits practically define the race.

dominosskiforwomenLizzie Newell has participated in the event since its inauguration. Newell who wonders if she helped create the costume trend was a sunflower in 1997. This year her costume was more elaborate and abstract: she came as carbon, one costume in her family’s periodic table costume theme.

Another notable costume of this years’ race was a school of jellyfish. Using bubble wrap, coat hangers and ribbon, a dozen women maneuvered their ‘school’ through the trail.

Overall, the Alaska Ski for Women event is a great community building event. No prizes, no entry fees and no judges make the event exceptional. Once a year, 1,400 women fight the cold Alaskan elements and come together for one simple reason: fun.


Max Selim

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