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Experience Alaska like an Olympian this winter

November 29, 2013 Destination North America No Comments Email Email

The training grounds for several U.S. Olympians, Alaska’s winter landscape offers sports-minded travelers several ways to get in on the action this season.

“We’re fortunate to have a group of talented athletes vying to represent Alaska and the United States at the Olympics in Sochi and we want visitors to know they too can experience what our Olympians have access to in their backyards,” said Commissioner of Alaska’s Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development Susan Bell.

One of the newest draws for cross-country skiers is 7.5 kilometers of trail designed by biathlon pioneer and Olympian Bill Spencer at Government Peak Recreation Area in Hatcher Pass. Just an hour drive north of Anchorage, the world-class trails were designed for both Nordic skiing competitions and recreational skiers.

Cross-country ski aficionados can also hit the International Ski Federation-certified trails at Kincaid Park in Anchorage, hometown of Olympic skiers Kikkan Randall and Holly Brooks. Host to Olympic hopefuls and locals alike, the 60 kilometers of trails in the park are the backdrop for the Alaska Ski for Women, the largest women-only ski race in the country, and the finish line for the Tour of Anchorage, a cross-country ski marathon.

Nordic skiers are drawn to Fairbanks for the northern lights and the cross-country ski trails — 32 kilometers of trails await at Birch Hill Recreation Area. While in town, visitors can also take in a curling match at the Fairbanks Curling Club, the oldest organized sports group in the state.

Downhill skiers can follow the first Alaska Native Olympian and snowboard cross champion, Callan Chythlook-Sifsof to Alyeska Resort in Girdwood, or silver medalist and downhill skier Hilary Lindh to Eaglecrest Ski Area in Juneau. Home to International Ski Federation-certified alpine skiing courses, Alyeska features 1,610 skiable acres and terrain for everyone from beginners to experts. In Alaska’s Capital City, skiers and snowboarders can hit 31 Alpine runs, two Nordic trail systems, a terrain park and a tubing hill at Eaglecrest.

Super G silver medalist and downhill gold medalist Tommy Moe still gets his kicks heli-skiing in the Tordrillo Mountains at Tordrillo Mountain Lodge. The remote fly-in lodge hosts weeklong trips for adventurous skiers and snowboarders looking for untracked terrain.

No winter trip to Alaska is complete without hitting the ice rink. Travelers can lace up their skates at any number of spots across the state, such as Town Square in Anchorage, or at the city’s Cuddy Family Midtown Park, home to the only full-length speed skating oval in Alaska. Hockey fans can take in an Alaska Aces game on an Olympic-size rink at the Sullivan Arena in town too. But it’s Palmer, just north of Anchorage, that is the hometown of Kerry Weiland, a silver medalist on the 2010 women’s hockey team.

For more information on winter activities in Alaska, visit TravelAlaska.com.

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