Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion Kenai Central skier Veronika Budyanu throws her bean bag at the targeted waste bin Friday afternoon at the Tsalteshi ski trails in Soldotna.

Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion Kenai Central skier Veronika Budyanu throws her bean bag at the targeted waste bin Friday afternoon at the Tsalteshi ski trails in Soldotna.

Fun rules the day for skiers at Candy Cane Scramble

Friday afternoon offered a welcome respite to the wintertime blues that cross-country skiers have been dealt for several consecutive winters. The powder was deep and fresh and there were no puddles or bare patches of ground.

So why were racers doing throwing around beanbags?

It was all a part of the fun of the annual Candy Cane Scramble at the Tsalteshi Trails.

Ruby Lindquist of Seward and Josh Shuler of Soldotna claimed the victories in the girls and boys races, respectively, but the holiday giddiness and laid-back nature of the day was the bigger winner. Skiers from Kenai Central, Soldotna, Seward and Nikiski all joined in the fun by donning holiday sweaters and Santa Claus caps to show off their festiveness — and gain a time advantage.

According to the coaches, any racer competing with a Christmas hat or sweater would get 15 seconds lopped off their finishing time, although the end result was not affected. Shuler crossed the finishing line in 17 minutes, 53 seconds, covering a distance of just over five kilometers, to beat runner-up Patrick Michels of Kenai by 36 seconds. Lindquist won the girls race in 20:29, beating second-place Anya Danielson of Kenai by 2:37.

“It didn’t feel like a race,” Lindquist said after finishing. “It was more fun than a race.”

“This is kind of the fun aspect of racing,” Shuler later added. “Especially with a smaller group.”

The race was structured biathlon style, meaning that between each of the three laps that made up the course, skiers were to enter a “firing” zone, which was composed of several stations of beanbags. Each racer was given two opportunities to sink a bag into one of several waste bins lined up about 10 feet away. Make one shot, and the racer can be on their merry way.

But if both attempts missed, then the racer was forced to ski a penalty loop, which added 20 to 40 additional seconds to the total time.

Lindquist came into the firing range after finishing her first lap with no other racers in sight, hit the second of her two shots and raced off before anyone else could catch her. On her second go-round, Lindquist hit her first attempt from a sitting position.

“I play basketball a little bit, so I thought it shouldn’t be that hard,” Lindquist said. “But I’m just not used to this type of thing in a ski race.”

Shuler had more competition than Lindquist had, completing the first lap in a pack of several Kenai and SoHi skiers. Shuler had gotten off to a slow start and trailed a trio of Kenai racers for the early portions of the first lap. Shuler said he passed two of his Kardinals opponents before taking aim at race leader Michels.

“I definitely wish the trails were groomed beforehand,” Shuler said. “The hills going up were super difficult.”

The challenge of the race was powering through the fresh layer of snow that blanketed the Kenai Peninsula the night before. With no grooming done on the trails prior to the start, the going was tough as the deeper powder wore out tired bodies much quicker than normal.

“The trails just got softer and softer as we went along,” Lindquist said.

Several of the faster skiers from the peninsula opted not to race Friday due to the upcoming Besh Cup races in Anchorage over the weekend, so the day presented the opportunity for other skiers to shine. The next high school races are not scheduled until after the holiday break, when local teams take on their northern brethren at the Valley Invite, Jan. 13 and 14.

Candy Cane Scramble

Friday at Tsalteshi Trails

Girls — 1. Ruby Lindquist, Sew, 20:29; 2. Anya Danielson, Ken, 23:06; 3. Cameron Blackwell, Sol, 23:25; 4. Ithaca Bergholtz, Ken, 23:26; 5. Molly Erickson, Sol, 23:51; 6. Maria Salzetti, Ken, 23:52; 7. Hannah Delker, Sol, 24:45; 8. Dareena Doyle, Ken, 27:22; 9. Mickinzie Ticknor, Ken, 27:56; 10. Selby Hill, Sol, 28:37; 11. Charly Morton, Ken, 28:54; 12. Kyaran Matturro, Ken, 29:59; 13. Kealy Hendricks, Sol, 30:19; 14. Tirzah Young, Nik, 31:10; 15. Emma Armond, Sew, 32:12; 16. Merle Oldenburg, Ken, 33:02; 17. Sophie Thomas, Sol, 34:20; 18. McKenna Palmer, Ken, 38:21; 19. Payton Matturro, Ken, 40:26; 20. Tanis Lorring, Sew, 43:35; 21. Veronika Budyanu, Ken, 45:30; 22. Britney Storms, Ken, 46:48.

Boys — 1. Josh Shuler, Sol, 17:53; 2. Patrick Michels, Ken, 18:29; 3. Eric Kempf, Ken, 19:31; 4. Joseph Dammeyer, Sol, 19:49; 5. Jode Sparks, Sol, 19:57; 6. Tyle Owens, Sol, 20:44; 7. Jack Harris, Sol, 21:00; 8. Mathew Minium, Nik, 21:35; 9. Trevor Debnam, Ken, 21:40; 10. Cy Dull, Ken, 21:43; 11. Taylor Nelson, Sol, 21:53; 12. Egor Sturdy, Sew, 22:13; 13. Cooper Nelson, Sol, 22:40; 14. Bradley Walters, Sol, 22:41; 15. William Morrow, Ken, 23:24; 16. Tristan Summers, Ken, 23:40; 17. Tucker Mueller, Ken, 25:12; 18. Josh Foster, Ken, 25:32; 19. Marcus Crampton, Sol, 25:50; 20. Ben Wilson, Sol, 26:13; 21. Kyler Pritchet, Sol, 28:41; 22. Steven Osborn, Sew, 31:50; 23. Florian Kehl, Ken, 31:51.

Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion The field of varsity boys skiers takes off in Friday's Candy Cane Scramble at the Tsalteshi ski trails in Soldotna.

Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion The field of varsity boys skiers takes off in Friday’s Candy Cane Scramble at the Tsalteshi ski trails in Soldotna.

Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion Nikiski skier Matthew Minium tosses a bean bag towards his targeted waste bin at the Candy Cane Scramble, Friday afternon at the Tsalteshi ski trails in Soldotna.

Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion Nikiski skier Matthew Minium tosses a bean bag towards his targeted waste bin at the Candy Cane Scramble, Friday afternon at the Tsalteshi ski trails in Soldotna.

Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion Seward racer Ruby Lindquist takes aim at her target with a bean bag, Friday afternoon at the Tsalteshi ski trails in Soldotna.

Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion Seward racer Ruby Lindquist takes aim at her target with a bean bag, Friday afternoon at the Tsalteshi ski trails in Soldotna.

Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion A row of Kenai Central and Soldotna skiers armed with bean bags take aim at a line of trash bins Friday afternoon at the Tsalteshi ski trails in Soldotna.

Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion A row of Kenai Central and Soldotna skiers armed with bean bags take aim at a line of trash bins Friday afternoon at the Tsalteshi ski trails in Soldotna.

Fun rules the day for skiers at Candy Cane Scramble

Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion A row of Kenai Central and Soldotna skiers armed with bean bags take aim at a line of trash bins Friday afternoon at the Tsalteshi ski trails in Soldotna.

More in Sports

Kenai River Brown Bears forward Laudon Poellinger jumps on the boards to celebrate his first-period goal against the Fairbanks Ice Dogs with Brandon Lajoie and Ryan Reid at the Soldotna Sports Center in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Brown Bears, Pavicich shut out Wilderness

Luke Pavicich posted a shutout as the Kenai River Brown Bears defeated… Continue reading

Soldotna’s Aiden Burcham controls the puck under pressure from Homer’s Brock Barth during a Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021 hockey game between the two schools at Kevin Bell Arena in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News)
Homer hockey tops Kenai, loses to Soldotna

In their weekend of hockey in a shortened season, the Homer Mariners… Continue reading

Kenai River Brown Bears forward Peter Morgan makes a pass against the Springfield (Illinois) Jr. Blues on Friday, Nov. 15, 2019, at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Magicians sweeps Brown Bears

The Kenai River Brown Bears were swept by the host Minnesota Magicians… Continue reading

Nikiski's Drew Handley and Brady Bostic defend Kenai Central's Bridger Beck on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021, at Kenai Central High School in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Hoops roundup: Kenai sweeps Nikiski

The host Kenai Central girls basketball team received 20 points from Emma… Continue reading

Soldotna's Quinn Cox gets first tracks as he skis to second place in the Soldotna Invite on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021, at Tsalteshi Trails just outside of Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Laker, Boonstra ski to SoHi Invite titles

Kenai Central’s Jack Laker and Jayna Boonstra took the individual titles Saturday… Continue reading

Kenai Central's Erin Koziczkowski and Emma Beck trap Soldotna's Montana Fischer on Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021, at Kenai Central High School in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai, SoHi, Homer, Nikiski hoops start seasons

The Soldotna girls basketball team defeated Kenai Central 68-16 on Thursday in… Continue reading

Predaceous flatworms hide under leaves by day in a spring near Soldotna Airport on Dec. 21, 2017. At night they hunt for other invertebrates. (Photo by Matt Bowser/USFWS)
Refuge Notebook: Life in Kenai Peninsula freshwater springs

I like winter. I really do. The cold and the dark don’t… Continue reading

American poet Amanda Gorman reads a poem during the 59th Presidential Inauguration at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, Pool)
Tangled Up in Blue: Speckled purple

I woke up in the morning to NPR on Wednesday morning highlighting… Continue reading

Kenai River Brown Bears forward Max Helgeson chases the puck along the boards against the Fairbanks Ice Dogs on Friday, Nov. 22, 2019, at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Brown Bears top Wilderness for 4th straight win

Staff report The Kenai River Brown Bears won their home away from… Continue reading

Most Read