FAIRBANKS — The snow is deep and so is the field at the 28th annual Tesoro Arctic Man Classic, the ski/snowmachine race and week-long party that begins Monday in the Hoodoo Mountains along the Richardson Highway.
Some 53 two-member teams have signed up for the usually less than 5-minute, 90 mph ride, eclipsing last year’s field, race organizer Howie Thies said. It’s a competitive group that includes last year’s ski winners Marco Sullivan and Tyler Aklestad.
New this year is a class of five adaptive-class skiers, handicapped skiers who run the course with a chair-ski setup. Single adaptive-class skiers have competed in the past, but this is the first year they have their own category and will compete for their own purse of prize money, Thies said.
The snow this year is as deep as it has been in 20 years, said Thies, who won the first Arctic Man, then a $100 bar bet, and now organizes it.
The snow measures 17 feet deep in the parking lot and probably is between 20 and 30 feet deep on the course. If you’re familiar with the course, there’s a notable landmark missing, he said.
“We have a big rock in the canyon that the skiers go by. It’s covered. You can’t see it.”
The deep snow will be fun for the skiers, snowmachiners and snowboarders, though the deep snow could create avalanche danger he said.
The Arctic Man course and parking lot open Monday. The main competition is scheduled for Friday morning, though Saturday is a backup if weather isn’t right Friday.
In the main event, a skier or snowboarder starts at a 5,800-foot summit, heads down 1,700 feet of elevation across more than 2 miles before linking with an already moving snowmachiner, who tows the skier uphill for 2 1/4 miles and releases him or her at the top of a second hill for a 1,200-foot ski to the finish.
Contact staff writer Sam Friedman at 459-7545.