Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion Soldotna junior Levi Michael (No. 40) leads a pack of skiers at the start of Friday's boys varsity race at the Kenai Peninsula Borough ski championships, held at the Tsalteshi Trails in Soldotna.

Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion Soldotna junior Levi Michael (No. 40) leads a pack of skiers at the start of Friday's boys varsity race at the Kenai Peninsula Borough ski championships, held at the Tsalteshi Trails in Soldotna.

Gibson, Pothast win borough ski meet

Youth was served Friday afternoon as the 2015 Kenai Peninsula Borough cross-country skiing championships were swept by a pair of freshman under clear skies.

Kenai Central’s Addison Gibson beat fellow freshman teammate Riana Boonstra by nearly 30 seconds in the girls varsity race, while Soldotna frosh skier John-Mark Pothast won the boys race by 10 seconds over Kenai freshman Karl Danielson.

Held at the Wolverine trailhead of the Tsalteshi Trails, the race featured a dual challenge; racers took off en masse with freestyle skis strapped to their feet for a four-kilometer loop around Wolverine and up the steep Goat hill, then stopped in a marked zone to change into classic-style skis and finished off the race with a three-kilometer tour of Wolverine again. The distance totaled seven kilometers.

The Kenai girls placed five skiers in the top seven to secure the team title by over 10 minutes. Following Gibson and Boonstra were teammates Katie Cooper in fourth, Mikaela Salzetti in fifth and Kirsten Nyquist in seventh.

The SoHi boys placed five skiers in the top 10 to edge Kenai for the team title by less than three minutes. After Pothast, SoHi teammate Levi Michael finished third and Koby Vinson was fifth to round out the top scoring skiers.

Before the first lap was even over, the girls race featured a surprise.

Soldotna senior Sadie Fox, one of the top girls skiers in the state and the heavy favorite to win Friday, decided to pull out of the race early after struggling with an illness that she picked up in the days leading up to boroughs.

Fox led early, but Gibson and Boonstra said they passed Fox for the lead past the halfway point of the first loop.

Gibson and Boonstra pulled into the exchange zone neck and neck for the lead, with Gibson getting the jump out for the second loop. Fox followed behind in third, but did not exchange skis, electing to withdraw instead to protect her health for future races.

With the lead in hand, Gibson continued on like a seasoned pro.

“Just felt kinda dead,” Gibson said lightheartedly. “It’s kind of hard to get ready for races, to be on snow for two days and then race.”

With a lack of practice this season on snow due to warm temperatures, training has become a challenge of who can cope the best and stay motivated. However, Gibson said the biggest motivation came from her teammate behind her.

“In the skate race, she passed me a couple times, going back and forth,” Gibson said.

“I was kind of pushing her, we were pushing each other together in the skate race,” Boonstra added. “I guess both doing well together pushes us.”

The win also capped off a big week for Gibson, who qualified for Junior Nationals for the first time with her performance last weekend in a pair of Besh Cup races in Fairbanks. Junior Nationals will be held in Truckee, California, from Mar. 9 to 14.

Soldotna junior Hannah Pothast finished third behind the Kenai duo.

In the boys race, Danielson pulled into the exchange zone with a small lead over Pothast. However, it did not last long.

For the second portion of the race, Danielson decided to race on classic skis with minimal kick wax, opting to double-pole most of the final three kilometers.

“It might have been a little slow on the uphills, but, I don’t know,” Danielson said. “I figured I could double-pole the whole thing, not have to worry about kick.”

His skis may have been faster without any kick wax dragging him down, but Pothast was faster yet.

“He was really strong the whole race,” Pothast said. “Coach had me put on wax, so I was pretty strong on the uphills. It gave me a little push.”

Danielson will also be making the trip to California for Junior Nationals, after his performance at last weekend’s Besh Cup races.

 

Girls Varsity

Team scores — 1. Kenai, 1 hour, 42 minutes, 25.5 seconds; 2. Soldotna, 1:54:53.9; 3. Homer, 1:55:25.2.

Individual results — 1. Addison Gibson, Ken, 24 minutes, 3.5 seconds; 2. Riana Boonstra, Ken, 24:32.6; 3. Hannah Pothast, Sol, 26:00.9; 4. Katie Cooper, Ken, 26:23.7; 5. Mikaela Salzetti, Ken, 27:25.7; 6. Sara Wolf, Hom, 27:36.0; 7. Kirsten Nyquist, Ken, 27:48.6; 8. Rachel Ellert, Hom, 28:00.7; 9. Olivia Hutchings, Sol, 28:19.2; 10. Kellie Arthur, Sol, 29:33.1; 11. Mia Alexson, Hom, 29:52.8; 12. Audrey Russell, Hom, 29:55.7; 13. Ithaca Bergholtz, Ken, 30:15.9; 14. Mieka Chythlook, Sol, 31:00.7; 15. Sage Link, Sol, 33:28.3; 16. Brianne Bennett, Sol, 33:56.7.

 

Boys Varsity

Team scores — 1. Soldotna, 1:29:53.3; 2. Kenai, 1:32:42.5; 3. Homer.

Individual results — 1. John-Mark Pothast, Sol, 20:45.8; 2. Karl Danielson, Ken, 20:55.8; 3. Levi Michael, Sol, 22:01.9; 4. James Butler, Ken, 22:41.5; 5. Koby Vinson, Sol, 23:27.9; 6. Jacob Davis, Hom, 23:32.9; 7. Daniel Shuler, Sol, 23:37.7; 8. Liam Floyd, Ken, 23:51.2; 9. Hoxie Parks, Hom, 24:47.4; 10. Addison Downing, Sol, 24:59.1; 11. Patrick Michael, Ken, 25:14.0; 12. Aaron Swedberg, Sol, 25:30.7; 13. Sterling Stasak, Sol, 26:01.2; 14. Tadhg Scholz, Hom, 27:33.0; 15. Eric Kempf, Ken, 27:57.3.

Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion Homer freshman Jacob Davis slips while attempting to change his skis at Friday's Kenai Peninsula Borough ski championships, held at the Tsalteshi Trails in Soldotna.

Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion Homer freshman Jacob Davis slips while attempting to change his skis at Friday’s Kenai Peninsula Borough ski championships, held at the Tsalteshi Trails in Soldotna.

Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion Kenai Central freshmen Addison Gibson and Riana Boonstra crest a hill on their way to completing the first lap of Friday's Kenai Peninsula Borough ski championships, held at the Tsalteshi Trails in Soldotna.

Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion Kenai Central freshmen Addison Gibson and Riana Boonstra crest a hill on their way to completing the first lap of Friday’s Kenai Peninsula Borough ski championships, held at the Tsalteshi Trails in Soldotna.

Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion A line of classic skis await racers in the exchange zone, Friday Feb. 6 at the Tsalteshi Trails in Soldotna.

Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion A line of classic skis await racers in the exchange zone, Friday Feb. 6 at the Tsalteshi Trails in Soldotna.

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