Volunteers begin to pack the molds for the main aid station snow fort with snow. Team Alaska, Skagway’s local snowcarving team, has once again volunteered to chisel out carvings matching the 007 theme for the aid station. PHOTO COURTESY OF LOG CABIN SKI SOCIETY
By DAN FOX
Thanks to fifty years of James Bond movies, “Live and Let Ski” was just one of many possible pun-filled taglines for the upcoming Buckwheat Ski Classic, which is sporting a 007 theme for it’s 32nd year.
At press time, over 225 racers were registered for the March 24 event through the Log Cabin Ski Society’s website.
“We kind of set a goal to try and get around that mark by Sunday night,” said Log Cabin Ski Society member Jeff Brady. “That allows us to help get the racer packages prepared and everything [done] in a timely manner, knowing that we might full well get another hundred people hopefully that either register late during the week or when they walk up at bib pickup in Whitehorse on Thursday, or here at AB Hall on Friday.”
Anyone not yet licensed to ski can hit the late registration from 4-7 p.m. at AB Hall in Skagway on March. 23.
The registration numbers for this year aren’t quite as high as some previous years, but are still at a good level, Brady said.
“If we have 300, we do pretty well,” Brady said.
A fun theme for the event is always critical. Previous years have seen the Buckwheat flavored by Dr. Seuss, “Game of Thrones” and “Star Wars.”
“This one just sort of jumped out this year, to have a spy theme,” Brady said. “Something a little more adult this time around, where the kids could have fun too.”
Costumed skiers are always a highlight of the Buckwheat Ski Classic, and Brady said he expects to see a few people gliding over the snow in tuxedos.
“I think we’ll have an array of Bond villains and Bond girls and Bond sidekicks,” Brady said. “And who knows, maybe somebody will dress up as an Aston Martin.”
Trail crews have been working hard getting trails for the Buckwheat ready, though Brady said crews had a later start this year due to the snow conditions.
“But [they] did get a core trail system in place pretty fast, which has been in excellent shape since early February,” Brady said.
Getting enough snowfall is crucial for crews, as not getting enough powder means extra brush-clearing labor for volunteers, who Brady said are “really working hard this year to get those back trails ready for the race.”
The snow is not enough – temperature conditions at the Log Cabin Ski trails have to be right as well. Springtime sun may be making the trails a little soft in the afternoon, but Brady said they aren’t losing any snow.
“We’re always hoping for a little more snow, but we haven’t seen a melt or anything like that,” Brady said.
Nothing stops the race; Brady said the one time really bad weather closed the Klondike Highway, the Buckwheat was simply put off for 24 hours, and racers got to ski another day. While the main event is the ski race, the Buckwheat will carry on into the night back in Skagway, starting with the race’s awards banquet at the Recreation Center.
Recreation Center Director Katherine Nelson said the banquet will feature a four-person aerial tissue performance set to the Buckwheat’s Bond theme.
“The people that are in that show have been practicing pretty hard and getting ready for that,” Nelson said.
On the morning of the race, the Presbyterian Church is holding a breakfast from 6-8 a.m.
Race start times for the Buckwheat are as follows: 50k at 10 a.m., 25k at 10:15 a.m., 10k at 10:30 a.m. and the 5k Kids Race starts at 11:30 a.m. The banquet runs from 5-8 p.m., with admission for non-racers costing $15 at the door.
Live music in downtown Skagway will follow the awards banquet.