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Skiing on wheels

IS THIS A SPORT? Organizer thinks there's a place for roller skiing as a competitive event
By MELISSA DeVAUGHN - Anchorage Daily News - Published: September 15, 2006

 Roller skiing in Anchorage is almost always a training technique for nordic skiers, but on Wednesday night it grabbed the spotlight. More than 60 skiers in shorts and tank tops, wearing 3-foot skis on wheels, showed Anchorage that roller skiing can be a competitive summer sport.

At least that's what Ronn Randall, organizer of the inaugural event at Kincaid Park and father of Olympic cross-country skier Kikkan Randall, hopes. As racers made their way around the undulating course, making awkward sharp turns on the unwieldy rolling skis, he breathed a sigh of relief. Despite a few technical difficulties -- the race was shortened due to one dangerous muddy section and started late to allow for last-minute sweeping -- Randall felt the event was a success. "We're hoping next year that we can get a sprint series going, to be held at some of the other paved-trail systems in town," said Randall, recreation programmer for Parks and Recreation.
"Then we can end the season with a distance event like this again."

Randall said he's not sure who would lead such an effort -- perhaps a combination of Anchorage Parks and Recreation and local ski clubs, he said. But it could enhance the ski season for countless athletes who use roller skis for training but rarely compete on them. "They do this in Norway all the time and have thousands of spectators," said Kikkan Randall, who won the women's 5-kilometer race. "Anchorage is a nordic city too, and it makes sense that it should be happening here." Watching roller skiing is vaguely similar to watching car racing. Athletes go fast, and spectators cringe as skier after skier nearly wipes out on sharp turns. Slowing on roller skis is much more challenging than on flexible skis on snow.

 Roller skis stagger and turn while the athlete tries to keep the wheels turning. On one particularly twisty section, eventual men's winner Eric Strabel, a three-time Skimeister in high school, rolled off the course after gaining too much momentum on a slight downhill. He rolled into the grass but managed to stay upright, hopping back onto the paved trail and continuing on the 10-kilometer course (
Photo by Marc Lester: UAA cross country skier Brittany Greer rinses grit off her roller skis in a puddle at the end of a rainy workout on the roads of the South Anchorage hillside).

Another skier in the boys' division wasn't so lucky. He swept around a turn marked by orange cones and flagging. But instead of navigating it cleanly, he rolled into the flags. When he stood up to reorient himself, his legs became tangled and he stood like a lassoed lamb until a race official helped free him.

"Roller skiing is its own sport," Ronn Randall said. "There are different dynamics. Some people knew how to take those turns, and some didn't.
"There's some technique that they need to work on. ... I've been around alpine (skiing) enough to realize that there was a lot of alpine technique being used to make those turns. So someone with alpine experience could do well in this sport."

Wednesday's Kincaid Rollerski Stampede, as it was so named, is not the first roller ski race of the season, Randall said. He hosted an earlier sprint event at Cuddy Park in Midtown this summer, but few showed up. The weather didn't cooperate, and the idea of transforming a training tool such as roller skis into its own sport was slow to take hold.
Trond Flagstad, head cross-country ski coach at UAA, was at the Cuddy Park event as well as the stampede. He placed second, just behind Strabel.

Flagstad's team uses roller skis for time trials throughout the summer, a valuable training method. If roller skiing can find a permanent niche in Anchorage, he said, it will improve year-round competition for recreational and competitive athletes.
"We have such good trails here," he said. "And we don't have to use the roads."
Strabel, who sported a muddy stripe from his shoulders to his legs after a tumble he took warming up, was glad for the competition and hopes next year will bring more, helping athletes stay sharp and focused year-round.

"It was different," he said. "It's a good rolling course; it's too bad there are not more hills, but that's OK."
The race attracted a large group of junior racers, including Eric Parker, a rising cross-country star who skied for South High. He opted to compete in the longer men's course and finished third behind powerhouses Strabel and Flagstad.

Parker's younger sister, Karina, a member of the Alaska Winter Stars team, also raced. Relaxing afterward, the Goldenview Middle School 13-year-old said she was not sure how well she had done but was not concerned about her time.

"I really wanted to do this because it's important for the training," she said. "We have done roller skiing time trials before (as part of the team) but it's on the road, and you have cars. This was better."

Daily News reporter Melissa DeVaughn

Kincaid Rollerski Stampede No. 1

At Kincaid Park

Wednesday's Results

20-29 (10-K) -- 1) Eric Strabel 27:09:76; 2) Trond Flagstad 27:15:95; 3) Eric Packer 28:37:96; 4) Paul Shauer 29:06:38; 5) Cole Talbot 31:23:59; 6) Harry T. Crawford 31:37:15.
15-19 (10-K) -- 1) Steven Buklis 30:09:11; 2) Andrew Dougherty 30:28:34; 3) Nick Treinen 31:33:78; 4) Eric Ryan 32:04:56; 5) Anson Moxness 33:11:68; 6) Lex Treinen 34:47:25; 7) Don Haering 37:13:26; 8) Wiley Dunlop Shell 37:17:15.
15-19 (7-K) -- 1) Neil Liotta 28:14:66; 2) Daniel Riley 29:12:60; 3) Erin Phillips 29:31:15.
30 and over (7-K) -- 1) Rich Suddock 28.04.60; 2) tie David Meyers 30:36:01; 2) tie Rich Rogers 30:36:01; 4) Chip Treinen 30:59:19; 5) Joe Kurtak 39:27:66; 6) Marko Radonich 41:27:66.

20-29 (5-K) -- 1) Kikkan Randall 16:32:80; 2) Kasandra Rice 16:36:70; 3) Tazlina Mannix 17:20:00; 4) Aleta Phelps 18:42:36; 5) Kate Pearson 19:14:19.
15-19 (5K) -- 1) Rachelle Kanady 18:05:01; 2) Ky Eiben 18:12:51; 3) Hanna Johnson 18:12:91.
15-19 (5K) -- 1) Caitlin Patterson 17:41:18; 2) Jaime Bronga 17:43:38; 3) Alison Butler 18:17:94; 4) Kate Fitzgerald 19:17:51; 5) Jasmine Neeno 19:29:91; 6) Heidi Rogers 19:31:01; 7) Megan Ryan 20:07:90; 8) Kellen MacFadyen 20:30:21; 9) Liz Conway 21:34:70.
30 and over (5K) -- 1) Terri Pauls 21:11:66; 2) Devra Louis 22:38:99; 3) Jay Laxson 23:07:44; 4) Diana Evans 24:23:72 .

(Fonte: Anchorage Daily News)

Da staff, Mercoledì, 20 Settembre 2006 21:20, Commenti(0)

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