The Homer High School Nordic Girls Ski team won first place in the state competition last Thursday through Saturday in Fairbanks, and it’s the first time Homer has brought home the state championship in years.
Katia Holmes is one of the top two skiers on cross-country ski team. She said she’s been skiing practically since she was born. But even for her, there were some tough spots during her races in Fairbanks.
“There was a corner that there were a couple of skiers that I was skiing next to around the corner and it was a really steep corner,” she said. “One of them went on the inside and then I was on the outside and I almost flew off on the outside because they cut in and kind of cut me off so that was pretty exciting—almost flying into the bushes!”
The three days of competition included a classic, skate and relay race. Holmes said the weather made it difficult since none of the girls were used to the cold. But Holmes pushed through, especially on the classic race.
“I was probably about a couple of yards to the finish and there was two people in front of me,” she said. “And at the finish you double pull, and so I was behind the two the entire race and then all of a sudden I just got a huge burst of energy and I double pulled past them probably in the last five seconds of the race and so I moved two places up.”
The six-person team, led by Coach Cole Talbot and Assistant Coach Alison O’Hara, pushed through and won first place in division two, which is the small schools division. Katia Holmes and Autumn Daigle were the top two girls. Katia Holmes made third place and Autumn Daigle made second place in the division.
“[Daigle] is a little power horse, she never quits,” said O’Hara. “She just always keeps going. She has amazing stamina and her ski technique has improved significantly this year. "
But it’s not just the top two that made the win. O’Hara said everyone on the team pushes each other.
“They're very similar in speed, the top four girls, which helped to make their team score as awesome as it was because they were all just really great skiers which is good for them too because during training it really keeps them all motivated and challenged--a lot of friendly competition going on," she said.
She said it’s also their drive and determination that led them to the win. That drive led them to another award too.
“We won the G.P.A. award out of all 24 schools that went to state,” Holmes said. “So we had the highest G.P.A. award. We had a 4.0.”
Holmes said there was a huge feeling of pride winning both awards.
“So we just felt like on top of the world,” she said. “It was really awesome to be able to share that with my teammates.”
The boys team made second in division two. Jacob Davis won second in skate and classic and Denver Waclawski won third in classic. Both teams expect to having another strong season next year.