Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966

ALCAN worth the wait, organizers say


February 6, 2020

Delay has only increased racers’ excitement for this year’s Alcan 200 snowmachine race set to begin on Saturday at 10 a.m.

After a 50-year run, it had looked like the Alcan 200 might be canceled this year due to inhospitable road and weather conditions, said Kathi Lapp, a member of the Alcan 200 board of directors.

The race had originally been scheduled for Jan. 18. The week of the race, organizers made the tough call to postpone for the first time in Alcan 200 history. The year before, the race had taken place with high winds and bare road conditions and saw an increase in accidents. On top of that, Jan. 18 was projected to have a high of -21 degrees after factoring in wind chill, raising frostbite concerns for racers.

Lapp said the board originally thought they would have to scrap the race entirely since their permits with the Canadian government, which involve closing the highway, were for a specific date. “But they said we could postpone and change the date.”

‘It would have been a real letdown if we couldn’t have had it,” Lapp said. “It’s a good weekend for Haines because it brings other people into the community.”

Lapp said she’s glad they postponed. “It’s going to be better because the conditions are going to be better. We may get more people, but then again, we may not. We never know until Friday night.” She said she anticipated a turnout of roughly 25 racers.

Originally, the Alaska Marine Highway System had extended the Tazlina’s service an extra week through Jan. 19 to accommodate Alcan 200 racers. With the Matanuska undergoing repairs there will be no ferry to accommodate those traveling to Haines for the race.

Lapp said she didn’t think the lack of ferry would have much of an impact as racers had known the ferry was unreliable. “Some people brought their sleds up ahead of time just in case. All they’re going to do is fly in this weekend… it’s just one of the things we’ll have to work around.”

Barring road closure in Canada due to snow, the race will go ahead as planned, Lapp said.

So far, it looks like the weather will comply. At the starting line on Saturday, conditions should be relatively mild with temperatures in the low to mid 20s and only a minimal chance of precipitation, NOAA meteorologist Jake Ruckman said. He said models show an east wind around 10 mph, but over all, “it looks like some of the best conditions that area’s going to see for a while.”


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