Win the race, beat the piñata.
That was the reward Tuesday afternoon for the girls and boys winners of the Turkey Skate races at the Tsalteshi Trails.
Kenai Central seniors Addison Gibson and Karl Danielson were the lucky winners that got the chance to take a swing at a turkey-inspired piñata strung up by the feathers on a basketball hoop in the Skyview Middle School hockey rink. Gibson won the girls race, covering the 5.4-kilometer course with a time of 18 minutes, 24 seconds, beating teammate Maria Salzetti to the finish by over a minute. Salzetti was second in 19:33 and Katia Holmes of Homer was third in 19:50.
Danielson had a much stiffer challenge in the boys race with Soldotna’s John-Mark Pothast hot on his heels the entire race. Danielson beat Pothast by a second with a time of 15:44. Third-place Josh Shuler of Soldotna took third in 17:30.
Pothast held an early lead but a fall allowed Danielson to pass by on the flatter Squirrel and Owl loops. Once ahead, Danielson managed to keep Pothast behind as the two climbed the biggest uphill on the course, “Kill Bill,” before rounding the Rabbit downhill and back up and down the sprint hills to the finish.
With a fresh layer of snow from Sunday’s blizzard and more falling Tuesday, the course was expected to provide an ample challenge to racers with a soft snowpack, but conditions weren’t as slow as expected, according to Soldotna head coach Isaac Erhardt.
The traditional Thanksgiving week event provides peninsula skiers an early-season glimpse into who will be fast this year and how effective each racer’s offseason training has been, although recent Turkey Skate races have been canceled with poor snow weather. The next event on this season’s schedule is the Mat-Su Invite at the Government Peak trails near Palmer.
at Tsalteshi Trails
Boys: 1. Karl Danielson, Ken, 15 minutes, 44 seconds; 2. John-Mark Pothast, Sol, 15:45; 3. Joshua Shuler, Sol, 17:30; 4. BradleyWalters, Sol, 17:44; 5. Austen Eriksson, Sol, 17:55; 6. Jode Sparks, Sol, 17:57; 7. Denver Waclawski, Hom, 18:19; 8. JosephDammeyer, Sol, 19:04; 9. Tristan Summers, Ken, 19:52; 10. Andy, Hom, 20:01; 11. Tyler Neill, Sol, 20:13; 12. Joshua Foster,Ken, 20:13; 13. Darius Martin, Sol, 20:38; 14. Ben Wilson, Sol, 20:50; 15. Dylan Hogue, Sol, 20:52; 16. Kyler Pritchet, Sol, 20:56;17. Billy Morrow, Ken, 21:18; 18. Hunter Beck, Ken, 24:58; 19. Gavin Wallis, Nik, 34:46; 20. Ancel, Hom, 37:55.
Girls: 1. Addison Gibson, Ken, 18:24; 2. Maria Salzetti, Ken, 19:33; 3. Katia Holmes, Hom, 19:50; 4. Kellie Arthur, Sol, 19:58; 5.Autumn Daigle, Hom, 20:15; 6. Sonora Martin, Sol, 20:25; 7. Zoe, Hom, 21:15; 8. Isabella Dammeyer, Sol, 21:40; 9. HannahDelker, Sol, 22:05; 10. Dareena Doyle, Ken, 22:14; 11. Selby Hill, Sol, 22:59; 12. Kealy Hendricks, Sol, 23:38; 13. MickinzieTicknor, Ken, 24:09; 14. Sophie Thomas, Sol, 24:12; 15. Erika Arthur, Sol, 24:20; 16. Kyaran Matturro, Ken, 24:37; 17. Ellie,Hom, 26:42; 18. McKenna Palmer, Ken, 29:08; 19. Libby, Hom, 30:22.