With spring right around the corner, it's time for the fun and funky Oosik Classic Ski Race in Talkeetna Saturday, March 16.
The Oosik, now in its 19th year, is hosted by the Denali Nordic Ski Club and is one of the most fun and funky races in Alaska. The course changes every year, but there are two divisions - 25-kilometers and 50-kilometers. While competitive skiers definitely participate every year, it's the recreational skiers that have given the Oosik a well-deserved reputation as a great time. Many of the racers dress in costume for the race, and having fun is given high importance among the racers.
The Denali Nordic Ski Club says "the Oosik puts the 'country' back in cross-country. This one-of-a-kind classical race and tour features a new and different course each year with fun and unexpected technical challenges."
The race has evolved into a weekend-long celebration in Talkeetna, and its popularity is unrivaled, as all of Talkeetna fills up with racers, spectators and fans. Following the race - which begins at noon from the gravel pit near Mile 11 Talkeetna Spur Road - there is a party at the Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge featuring live music, cash prizes for top finishers, door prizes and beer and root beer provided by Denali Brewing Company.
While the race is a fun way to get into the spring season, it's also an important one for the Denali Nordic Ski Club and skiers in the Talkeetna area. The event serves as the primary fundraiser for the club, and proceeds from the race help the club's volunteers groom, maintain and develop Nordic trails in Talkeetna. It also allows the club to support programs such as the Talkeetna Junior Nordic program.
The race is capped at 750 skiers, and it sells out every year.
If you are interested in joining the ski club, visit www.denalinordicskiclub.org. If entries are still available, you can also register for the Oosik at that link.
Scenes from past Oosik races