Karl Danielson, a 2018 graduate of Kenai Central, won the Under-16 and over men’s sprint Saturday at Besh Cup 3 at Tsalteshi Trails just outside of Soldotna.
The six Besh Cup races draw the top junior skiers in Alaska as those skiers look to qualify for the Junior Olympics. Danielson, who skis for the Alaska Pacific University Nordic Ski Center, is too old for the Junior Olympics. He had just finished skiing at U.S. Nationals at Soldier Hollow in Utah in early January.
“I had a little bit of a break before any other big races, so I just came down to do this kind of for fun, I guess because it’s my hometown,” Danielson said. “I had a couple weeks before school started.”
Danielson has another year studying health sciences at APU. After that, he said he may go to a physical therapy program in the Lower 48.
The sprint course at Tsalteshi requires skiers to go up and down the steep hill facing the Skyview Middle School soccer fields twice. The Under-16 and over skiers had a 1.2-kilometer course, while Under-14 had a kilometer and Under-12 and under had .6K.
Danielson said he felt he had an edge on most of the skiers. At the same time, with the steep hills, sharp turns and a heavy, wet snow piling up throughout the day, there was no room for error.
“It’s a pretty tricky course and you don’t really have any time to pass,” Danielson said. “You’re going to want to get ahead early, in my opinion. You can’t really draft very well.”
In winning his quarterfinal, semifinal and the final, Danielson got ahead before the first hill and kept that lead the whole time.
The Under-16 and over women’s sprint final was won by Katey Houser, a senior at Palmer High School.
Both Kenai’s Tyler Hippchen and Soldotna’s Quinten Cox qualified for the quarterfinals but did not make the semifinals. Cox was fifth in the third quarterfinal, while Hippchen was sixth in the first quarterfinal.
In the Under-16 and over women’s quarterfinals, both Kenai’s Jayna Boonstra and Emily Moss, and Soldotna’s Ariana Cannava, did not advance to the semifinals. Boonstra was sixth in the fourth quarterfinal, while Cannava was fifth and Moss was sixth in the fifth quarterfinal.
In the Under-16 girls bonus semifinals, Kenai Middle’s Tania Boonstra placed third in the second semifinal to qualify for the A Final and Homer’s Ireland Styvar was third in the first semifinal to qualify for the A Final. In the A Final, Styvar was fifth and Boonstra was sixth.
In the Under-16 boys bonus semifinals, Kenai’s Gregory Fallon was fourth and Kenai’s Jack Laker was fifth in the second semifinal, putting them in the B Final. In the B Final, Fallon was fourth and Laker was fifth.
In Under-14 racing, Kenai Middle’s Chase Laker and Homer’s Middle’s Ethan Styvar both qualified for the heats. Laker finished sixth in the first semifinal and Styvar was sixth in the second semifinal, qualifying both for the B Final. Styvar won the B Final, while Laker was second.
Not making the heats in the Under-16 and over men’s qualification, Soldotna’s Andrew Cox was 50th in 2:47, Kenai Central’s Ben Boersma was 55th in 2:51, Kenai’s Zane Tews was 57th in 2:52, Kenai’s George Wright was 65th in 3:00; Homer’s Jody Goodrich was 66th in 3:09, Kenai’s Owen Smith was 68th in 3:20 and Kenai’s Robert Carson was 69th in 3:21.
Not making the heats in the Under-16 and over women’s qualification, Kenai’s Leah Fallon was 41st in 3:23; Kenai’s Summer Foster was 46th in 3:29, Kenai’s Gabriella Tews was 50th in 3:38, Kenai’s Mya Taylor was 57th in 3:56 and Kenai’s Madison McDonald was 58th in 4:00.
Besh Cup 4 will be held today at Tsalteshi, with interval classic racing starting at 11 a.m.