Another buckwheat ski classic – The Skagway News.
By Denise Caposey
Another buckwheat ski classic has come and gone, and another year of skiing has passed. Time goes by ever faster. No one ever tells you that, and you don’t really understand anyway, when you’re young and waiting for something to happen. That’s how the Buckwheat Ski Race started in the good old days, an idea to bring new faces to Skagway and a way to meet girls. At least that’s what I heard from the breed’s namesake, Mr. Buckwheat Donahue himself.
Now in its 35th year, the race was once again on the beautiful ski slopes of British Columbia. Last year, you will recall, the race was at Lower Lake on the Dewey Trail System. The Log Cabin Ski Society makes the decisions and coordinates all the logistics for this event which would not be possible without its many dedicated volunteers.
We were in the throes of another COVID year last season, and it was decided to make the most of the abundant amounts of snow that fell here on the coast. The course looped around Lower Lake, and if you were a runner, you would do this course multiple times to make it a traditional 5K or 10K run.
With the aids of the TEMSCO helicopter, many people took the opportunity to get out and ski or just came to enjoy the barbecue and watch the COVID ball fall, so to speak. More than 200 residents of Skagweg took part. Once again, an incredible event unfolded seemingly seamlessly.
Those behind the scenes at the Buckwheat Ski Classic know how much work this race entails. Trail Crew boss Cory Thole argues with the people who operate the machines that prepare and set the course. Stuart Brown helps operate these machines. Tim Bourcy and Don Corwin work tirelessly at the BBQ pit. The locals provide transportation and accommodation for our visiting teams and guests, and ALL of it is done by the locals of Skagway. We know how to throw a party.
The Buckwheat Ski Classic marks the start of the season. That’s why it was sad to see few people from Skagway racing this year. Only six of us signed up to run.
The hurdles we had to jump through to get into Canada made things heavier than usual for the American volunteers and runners. The Canadian border required proof of vaccination, the ArriveCAN application completed no more than three days in advance, and current negative COVID test results. Given that the best we can do is a molecular test valid for 72 hours, this gave us three days of border crossings before we needed another current negative test.
Thanks to the Skagway Tribal Council (STC) and their crew, we were able to get the necessary tests to satisfy the Canadian Border Patrol and get most of us through. STC performed these tests for free and even extended its testing window to accommodate race participants. Thanks to Sarah Kinjo-Hischer and volunteer Rory Bricker, this made things more doable. Still, few Skagway people were willing or able to jump through all the hoops and have been missed this year. You know who you are.
I guess that’s the goal of my thesis. Skagway, Alaska, this tiny port town in the far north of the United States, hosts and welcomes our Canadian neighbors in the Yukon Territory, to a tiny corner of the world under what in Canada is considered Queensland. This Queen’s Land is in British Columbia, Canada, the border of which is only 15 miles from Skagway. Isn’t it just fascinating how we have organized this international event, given the pandemic and Putin’s war looming on the horizon? Two years of fearing the dreaded COVID and now a war is looming? It’s insane!
But on Saturday, I happily skied my 10 kilometer race alongside my friends and neighbors up north, and I actually forgot about the threat of nuclear war for a while. I also forgot to keep six feet apart, as we all went to hug and congratulate each other at the finish line. For a few hours I forgot my age, then I sat down and thought about how many Buckwheat Ski Classics I’ve been on. As I enjoyed my hot dog in the snow-carved windbreaker at the aid station with my trusty ski buddy, Nan Saldi, we weren’t thinking about war or the pandemic, we were thinking maybe the race entry should have a senior division, for old skiers like us. Who knows, maybe I could still win a medal?
As a signature sign, here is Mrs. Caposey, proud to be a Buckwheater veteran. A BIG thank you to all the volunteers who make this spring ski show so fun for everyone, skiers and non-skiers alike. Hope to see you all up there next year. Peace.
See results at: http://buckwheatskiclassic.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/BISC-2022-Results-by-Category.pdf