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Icicle Double - The Next Big Thing

posted Jan 20, 2016, 10:27 PM by Tammy Hill

Photographer: Ashley Wise

I’ve always wondered what it would feel like to be on the front end of something big; to be at the infancy of a great creation.  For example, Steve Jobs sitting in his garage with friends, staring at foundation of what would become one of largest computer companies in the world. Did Jobs know what was to come?  To come back around to something more relevant, did the Nordics Ski Association of Anchorage know what the Tour of Anchorage would become back in 1988, with racers only totaling 10% of the competitors who race now?

These were a few of my thoughts as I stood at the finish line of this season’s Icicle Double.  For those unfamiliar, the Icicle Double is the MSSC’s premier race at the Government Peak Recreation Area, with distance options ranging from 5 to 30 km in classic the first day and freestyle the second.  Racer’s get to experience the full beauty of GPRA, in some cases, multiple instances, as they cruising through the Matanuska and Susitna Loops. The race then concludes in the stadium area below the newly constructed chalet, where I was strategically placed as timing volunteer.

With no self-congratulatory intent, the event has received the support from some great volunteers, with their numbers approaching one for every two racers.  Volunteers included racing types and those who didn’t even ski, just showed up to enjoy being an active spectator.  It truly makes for a miraculously ran event, and this shows in the response of the racers themselves.  I have never been thanked so much, nor have I seen volunteers shown as much appreciation as I witnessed at this year’s event.  But then again, this may be a testament to the caliber of the competitors as well.

The competitors this year ran the gamut; from college team athletes to single digit aged youngins racing their first 5km, with dad following just behind for moral support.  The best I could describe it is this: it is a family friendly event with just enough competition to keep one racing honestly. 

But as great as the competitors and volunteers are, the crown jewel of the race is the venue.  Located at the base of Hatcher Pass, with Government Peak in the background and the entire Matanuska valley spread-out below, one would be hard pressed to find a better spot to hold a race.  While the trails hold spectacular vistas, its true secret rests in a basic requirement for all nordic races, snow.  GPRA has proven time and time again to have the snow when others in southcentral may be without.  That’s not to say the area can withstand all El Nino can throw at it, but it has provided great conditions with the help of MSSC’s great grooming staff.

So to you volunteers, thank you, and to you competitors, thank you as well.  You all have made a great event this season.  Time will tell, but the Icicle Double might just be the next big thing (race).  And while it may be a little early for promotion, the MSSC has already set the date for the 2016 Icicle Double,  December 30 and 31, just the right thing to do to close out the year.  Details to come this fall… so the question is to You, do you want to be part of the next big thing?

Junior Nordic Coaches Spotlight

A new section we have decided to add is our spotlight on Junior Nordic Coaches.  This month we get the opportunity to know Sydney Thielke in his own words:

“I grew up skiing in Homer, AK.  I started Besh Cups as a J4 and kept ski racing through high school, where I also focused my attention on biathlon. I did not ski in college but got reinvolved in 2007 after we moved to Lander, Wy.  There, I was the president of the biathlon club and also on the local ski association board of directors for four years.  After moving back to Alaska I was very excited to get involved with Mat-Su Junior Nordic and subsequently middle school racing through ANR.  I am very excited to be part of the community here and so greatful for everything MSSC and MSJN does to support skiing in the valley.”

Thank you Sydney for all you do in making our sport even better.


Nordic Skiing – Valley Style

Have you been enjoying the great skiing at Government Peak Recreation Area and Archangel Road this winter?  It was made possible by the intrepid groomers from the Mat-Su Ski Club: Ed, Ashley, Chris, Mark and Mark.  If you have been taking advantage of the best overall skiing in our area of Southcentral now would be the time to join the MSSC and purchase a trail pin to help keep the tracks coming.  Trail Pins go towards our trailing grooming efforts, so show your pride in the Valley trails.

You can do so by going to www.matsuski.org.

Happy Skiing and Think Snow

Serenity Falls Overnight Hut Trip

What if I was to tell you there is an event that grants you a tour of  Eklutna Lake with an overnight in a heated cabin, without having you carrying your gear on your back, how much would you pay for something like this?  $500? $200?  $100?  What if I told you all this could be yours for the price of a couple lattes?  Well that is just what MSSC is over this coming spring break.

Take a grand scenic tour of Eklutna Lake back to Serenity Falls Hut.  Prior to the trip, the twelve miles of trail will be groomed for enjoyable tour skiing.  The day of, the group will meet with the trailhead where all the groups gear will be transferred to the snowmachine to be transferred to the cabin, allowing for inhibited skiing all the way through.   For details email the club at info@matsuski.org


Calendar of Events

Feb 02             MSSC Board of Director’s Meeting, at GPRA 6:30PM

Feb 07             Mat-Su Ski for Women, GPRA 11:30AM

Mar 05             Junior Nordics end of year party, GPRA 12:00PM

Mar 12-13       Serenity Falls Cabin Overnight

Apr 02             Race to the Outhouse #2, Location TBD