Soldotna’s Ariana Cannava leads the pack near the start of the Turkey Skate on Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2023, at Tsalteshi Trails just outside of Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Soldotna’s Ariana Cannava leads the pack near the start of the Turkey Skate on Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2023, at Tsalteshi Trails just outside of Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

SoHi’s Boonstra, Kenai’s Chase Laker win Turkey Skate to start ski season

Kenai Central’s Chase Laker and Soldotna’s Tania Boonstra won the Turkey Skate on Tuesday at Tsalteshi Trails just outside of Soldotna.

There were no team times kept at the race, which included Soldotna, Kenai Central, Homer and Seward.

Soldotna head coach Isaac Erhardt said in a text message that the race was an opportunity to get skiers used to racing, and also a good chance for a time trial to act for varsity or junior varsity placement.

Skiers were treated to near perfect conditions for a 4-kilometer freestyle race.

“It was super good out today,” said Kenai Central’s Emily Moss, who was third in the girls race. “Just getting everyone back and starting off the season with a fun race was awesome.”

Soldotna senior Levi Mickelson, who was eighth in the boys race, agreed.

“As far as first races go, it’s about the best one we’ve had in a while,” he said. “I remember last year it was raining on this race, so definitely an improvement.”

Boonstra won the girls race in 15 minutes, 44 seconds, while teammate Ariana Cannava was just behind at 15:54.

The course started out on mostly flat and slightly rolling terrain, then hit two big hills — Kill Bill and Collin’s Climb — in the second half of the race.

Boonstra was behind Cannava until taking the lead for good on Kill Bill.

“I like the hills a lot,” Boonstra said.

She also said it’s fun having a teammate like Cannava.

“We’re really close teammates,” Boonstra said. “It’s fun skiing at practice and just working together.”

Boonstra said the girls team should be better than last year and is excited about some freshmen that have joined the team.

The same goes for Moss, who was the top Division II skier in the classic and freestyle races at state last season. Tuesday, Moss finished at 17:12 and was followed by freshmen Isla Crouse, at 17:15, and Ruby Davis, at 17:16.

“They’re doing so good,” Moss said of the freshmen. “I can’t believe this is their first high school race because they looked phenomenal.”

She said the addition has been great for the team, which will look to be the top Division II squad in the state for the fourth straight year.

“I’m so excited for the girls team,” Moss said. “They’re all so strong and it’s just a great atmosphere.”

Karalyn Veihdeffer led Soldotna in sixth place, while Katie Van Buskirk was 10th for Seward and Jaela Marchbanks was 12th for Homer.

Van Buskirk, a junior, said numbers and optimism are high in Seward.

“We love the team,” she said. “I’m really excited. We have a full girls team this year.

“I think there’s seven girls, which is really exciting. The last few years, we’ve had four, I think, at most.”

Van Buskirk said the boys team has about four members. She said the race was a great opportunity to see some new trails.

“Since we’ve only been skiing for a couple weeks, we’re definitely still a little shaky,” she said. “I think it went really well. We weren’t super worried.

“We didn’t have a lot of pressure on ourselves since it was the first race and we just wanted to get out there and get on snow a little more.”

In the boys race, Homer’s Jody Goodrich led until Kill Bill. At that point, four Kenai skiers — Chase Laker, Zane Tews, Jack Laker and Greg Fallon — passed Goodrich.

“I sensed them catching me,” Goodrich said. “So I kind of scooted over to the side, because my uphill is not quite as good as my flats.”

Fallon took the lead up Kill Bill and increased his lead even more up Collin’s Climb. On a slight downhill after that climb, though, he fell and lost the lead.

“He had a gap on us too, so I don’t really feel like I won that,” said Laker, who won at 13:41.

Laker was still happy his V2 technique was able to hold off Goodrich, Tews and Jake Laker on the drag race to the finish line.

Goodrich was second at 13:46, while Tews was at 13:48, Jack Laker was at 13:52 and Fallon was at 14:04.

Chase Laker said the race was encouraging as Kenai looks to become the top Division II team in the state after Homer took the honor last year. The Kardinals were the best Division II boys team in 2021 and 2022.

“We’re all really close,” Laker said. “The team pacing helps a lot.”

Goodrich said the team is pretty small this season after losing a bunch of seniors and some other skiers who did not come out. The Mariners boys did have four skiers in the top 11.

“We’re going to have to work a lot harder if we want to win state this year, but I think it’s possible,” Goodrich said. “Kenai is of course our biggest challenge.”

Mickelson, who led the Soldotna boys, said the Stars boys are young this year, but he’s optimistic about the season.

“I think it’s going to be pretty good,” he said. “This was our first race and we were still having a lot of kids showing up and getting stuff together.

“I haven’t really had an idea to see what the team’s going to look like for varsity, but I think it’s going to be a good year.”

Turkey Skate

Tuesday at Tsalteshi Trails

4-kilometer freestyle

Boys: 1. Chase Laker, Kenai, 13 minutes, 41 seconds; 2. Jody Goodrich, Homer, 13:46; 3. Zane Tews, Ken, 13:48; 4. Jack Laker, Ken, 13:52; 5. Greg Fallon, Ken, 14:04; 6. Leif Jaworski, Hom, 14:30; 7. Johannes Bynagle, Hom, 14:54; 8. Levi Mickelson, Sol, 15:08; 9. Logan Cartwright, Ken, 15:12; 10. Parker Richards, Sol, 15:19; 11. Lukas Renner, Hom, 16:10; 12. Nels Dahl, Sol, 16:19; 13. Oliver Trobaugh, Seward, 16:42; 14. Owen Smith, Ken, 16:50; 15. Austin Thompson, Ken, 16:58; 16. Caleb Wohlers, Sol, 17:04; 17. Tait Ostrom, Hom, 17:06; 18. Sam Sloan, Ken, 17:13; 19. Levi Strong, Ken, 17:28; 20. Elliot Hanson, Ken, 17:31; 21. Jameson Hall, Sol, 17:43; 22. Marty Fink, Sew, 17:44; 23. Valentino Rigutto, Sol, 18:32; 24. Aaron Fletcher, Sol, 18:34; 25. Owen Bell, Sol, 19:01.

26. Ollie Boersma, Ken, 19:01; 27. Philip Trobaugh, Sew, 19:03; 28. Lance Sego, Sol, 19:07; 29. Hayden Horstman, Sol, 19:44; 30. Evan Derzab, Sol, 20:40; 31. Max Reese, Sol, 23:39.

Girls: 1. Tania Boonstra, Sol, 15:44; 2. Ariana Cannava, Sol, 15:54; 3. Emily Moss, Ken, 17:12; 4. Isla Crouse, Ken, 17:15; 5. Ruby Davis, Ken, 17:16; 6. Karalyn Veihdeffer, Sol, 17:19; 7. Kathyrn Cox, Sol, 18:04; 8. Mya Taylor, Ken, 18:07; 9. Teresa Fallon, Ken, 18:35; 10. Katie Van Buskirk, Sew, 18:51; 11. Avery Ciufo, Sol, 19:25; 12. Indigo Leslie, Sew, 19:30; 13. Jaela Marchbanks, Hom, 19:33; 14. Leanne Gordon, Sol, 20:05; 15. Hailey Ingalls, Sew, 20:35; 16. Danika Winslow, Sol, 20:54; 17. Gracie Russel, Sew, 21:19; 18. Maren Bickling, Sew, 21:33; 19. Shayla Smith, Sol, 21:49; 20. Emily Taylor, Ken, 22:06; 21. Grace Fleming, Sew, 22:30; 22. Nikki Somers, Ken, 23:17; 23. Shiloh Zichko, Sol, 24:27; 24. Abigail Bishop, Ken, 26:54.

Kenai Central’s Chase Laker skis to victory in the Turkey Skate on Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2023, at Tsalteshi Trails just outside of Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai Central’s Chase Laker skis to victory in the Turkey Skate on Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2023, at Tsalteshi Trails just outside of Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Homer’s Jody Goodrich double-poles down a hill at the Turkey Skate on Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2023, at Tsalteshi Trails just outside of Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Homer’s Jody Goodrich double-poles down a hill at the Turkey Skate on Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2023, at Tsalteshi Trails just outside of Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Homer’s Jaela Marchbanks rounds a corner at the Turkey Skate on Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2023, at Tsalteshi Trails just outside of Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Homer’s Jaela Marchbanks rounds a corner at the Turkey Skate on Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2023, at Tsalteshi Trails just outside of Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai Centra’s Jack Laker leads skiers at the start of the Turkey Skate on Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2023, at Tsalteshi Trails just outside of Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai Centra’s Jack Laker leads skiers at the start of the Turkey Skate on Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2023, at Tsalteshi Trails just outside of Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Seward’s Katie Van Buskirk races in the pace at the Turkey Skate on Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2023, at Tsalteshi Trails just outside of Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Seward’s Katie Van Buskirk races in the pace at the Turkey Skate on Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2023, at Tsalteshi Trails just outside of Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

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