Qaniq Challenge not weather dependent director says
Ski event with big purse is a go even if snow conditions deteriorate further
Valdez Star photo
The Buccaneers hosted the Valdez Invite last week, despite poor traveling conditions and iffy snow trails.
A city-sponsored ski challenge will take place in Valdez this week, no matter what the weather conditions are.
So says Darryl Verfaillie, the city's parks and recreation director.
"It's rain or shine," he said Monday night. "snow or rock."
Or water. Or ice.
It's the Qaniq Challenge, a two-day 35 kilometer race that is offering cash prizes - $3,000 each to the first place male and female finishers, $1,500 for second place finishers and $500 for third place.
"This race will take place – regardless of ski conditions, cancelled flights or other Valdez Winter challenges – hence the name," states the page supporting the event on the city's website. "Be prepared to ski in all conditions as the possibility of white-outs, open water crossings and/or blinding sun may exist."
As of Tuesday, 26 people had registered for the event and paid the $100 entrants fee.
One day of the race will be a classic through Mineral Creek; another will be freestyle and will begin and end at the trap shoot range on the Richardson Highway.
"We're trying to get it about seventeen and a half kilometers per day," he said in an interview Monday night, but conditions of the trail will be the final determining factor.
Marcie Robertson, the city's ski trail grooming guru has her work cut out for her.
"She's making something out of nothing," Verfaillie said.
Robertson's skill came into play last weekend when the Mineral Creek trail was used for the Valdez Invitation that was hosted by the Buccaneer ski team.
Snow conditions in Valdez are poor. On Monday morning, buses to area schools were canceled due to water pooling on icy roads, and many snowcovered areas in Valdez are hard slabs of ice. The official snow depth is clocked at only 11 inches.
"That's why we added challenge to it," Verfaillie said, noting out of town skiers have paid a tidy sum to participate in the race and have presumably been training in addition to putting a lot of effort into planning to get and stay in Valdez for the event. "There's no way you can cancel, you just gotta do it."
The web page advises participants that they are allowed to make the course any way you can if you run out of snow.
"It says you take your skis off and carry them," Verfaillie said. "Then put them back on as soon as you can."
Valdez Star photo
The relays began Friday afternoon for the Valdez Invitational.
The event – and its unusually large purse for a cross country ski event in Alaska – was designed to attract skiers to Valdez.
Verfaillie said he hopes the event will catch on and become an annual event.
Ready to take on the challenge?
Verfaillie said that, for this year at least, entrants can register up until the last minute. Cost to enter the race is $100.