The Valdez Star - Serving Prince William Sound and Copper River Basin

By Tony Gorman
For the Star 

Grass subs for snow in GCI Speed Tour for youth

Kids in Valdez got rare chance to run obstacles with world class athletes last week


Tony Gorman photo

Youngsters were treated to an activity-filled afternoon last week when the GCI Speed Tour rolled into Valdez, giving kids a chance cut loose in the company of world-class skiers.

Dozens of Valdez youngsters converged on Barney Meyering Parkstrip last Wednesday, running, crawling and expending positive energy - with the help of a small handful of world-class Nordic skiers.

Instead of hitting the slopes, the GCI Speed Tour hit the grass running. The tour offered an obstacle course for children to run multiple times with the athletes guiding the way.

The free event that was open to the community was hosted by GCI and the Alaska Pacific University Nordic Ski team. Organizers launched the GCI Speed Tour at Cordova's Hollis Henrich Park a week ago Tuesday. Despite hitting a speed bump due to weather delays, the tour made its way to Valdez Wednesday.

Past and present Olympians and members of the APU Nordic ski teams took time out from their training to join the tour and bring a positive message to Valdez youth.

"It's an opportunity to introduce Alaska to what we view as Alaska's premier ski program in the United States," said David Morris, the Vice President of Communications for GCI. "It's internationally recognized. Its coach has received the Olympic committee's highest coaching award and it's right here in Alaska. These are premier athletes that are making Alaska known across the world."

Former Olympian Holly Brooks and Lindsey Fritz and made the trip to Valdez. Brooks is a two-time Olympian and a former member of APU's coaching staff. Fritz is a member of APU Nordic Ski Team.

Tony Gorman photo

Young people in Valdez had the opportunity to get autographs from Laura Fritz, forefront, and Holly Brooks last Wednesday, after the GCI Speed Tour activities.

Brooks said that she was pretty psyched to be in part of the tour.

"The main thing for me and my main inspiration for being here is to just get out and about and be active," Brooks said. "Whether it's skiing or jumping rope or playing basketball whatever makes them happy and keeps their blood moving, that's what I want."

Brooks and Fritz later signed autographs at the event and later at the local GCI storefront for those who couldn't make it to the event a Barney Meyering Park.

The tour is scheduled to feature more Olympians and make more stops in Ketchikan, Barrow, Kodiak, and Nome.

In each community, GCI will donate gym equipment such as basketballs, jump ropes and sport cones to local schools a GCI press release said.


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