Freestyle riders seek Anchorage training grounds

by • February 11, 2013 • Briefs & UpdatesComments (0)206

Snowcross racers battle for the lead during the Alyeska Motor Madness event. The Alaska State Sno-X Lions Club is seeking to open an area of Kincaid Park for snowcross racing, and a public meeting is slated for Feb. 14 at the Spenard Rec Center. By Freestyle Foto

Snowcross racers battle for the lead during the Alyeska Motor Madness event. The Alaska State Sno-X Lions Club is seeking to open an area of Kincaid Park for snowcross racing, and a public meeting is slated for Feb. 14 at the Spenard Rec Center. By Freestyle Foto

A public hearing is set for Feb. 14 to hear more about a contested proposal to open snowmachining to a motocross area of Kincaid Park. More than 200 people – mostly in support of the measure – attended a Jan. 10 meeting at the Spenard Recreation Center, where the proposal was introduced. It would open up about 15 acres in the Jodhpur area of Kincaid Park for certain hours of the day, Wednesdays through Sundays. The proposal is similar to a motorized allotment at Eklutna Lake, during which motorized vehicles have certain hours they can enjoy the multiuse trails in the north Anchorage Alaska State Parks area.

The Alaska State Sno-X Lions Club is behind the proposal, which it claims will allow riders to ride close to home and introduce their children to the sport in a cost-effective and safe way. Dane Ferguson, president of the Sno-X group and an X Games gold medalist, said the area isn’t perfect – more acreage would be ideal – but it’s a start for those trying to introduce and train young people in freestyle riding, which involves jumps and tricks in a semi-controlled environment.

“I think we did a good job explaining to them what freestyle is and showing them the need for this winter recreation activity in the municipality because there are a lot of people in this town who have snowmachines,” Ferguson said.

Opponents of the proposal include the cross-country skiing community, which spends thousands of dollars a year grooming trails that are adjacent to Jodhpur, and neighboring homeowners, who are worried about the noise that winter snowmachine activity could bring to their area.

“The board put in comments on (the proposal) that we don’t think it’s the right location,” said Diane Moxness, executive director for the Nordic Skiing Association of Anchorage. “We’re all in favor for snowmachiners having some place to be, we just don’t think this is the place.”

Eventually, Ferguson said, it would be best to create a 100- to 200-acre riding location, perhaps at the Anchorage Landfill at Hiland, or another more remote location. The key, though, is that something is better than nothing at all. Right now, he said, sled riders have to travel great distances to find training grounds, often putting themselves at risk to avalanches and other backcountry dangers.

At the February Parks and Recreation Commission meeting, which will be held at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 14 at Spenard Recreation Center, both Ferguson and Moxness said they hope there will be supporters to represent their groups’ views. Ferguson said he is confident that riders will respect boundaries and prove to be good riding neighbors. The Nordic Skiing Association of Anchorage, in a letter written by its board president, Jeff Scott, said it is worried about past history, in which trails have been destroyed by snowmachines entering areas off limits to sleds.

At the January meeting, the city did not take a position on the issue, but that could change during this month’s meeting. If it supports the measure, the Anchorage Assembly will have to approve it. Even if it is a short-term approval, it could give the Sno-X riders somewhere to ride while they pursue a more suitable location.

“We’d start off with a kid snow-cross setup and then maybe set up a little freestyle ramp,” Ferguson said. “We could make it work.”

The Anchorage Parks and Recreation Commission meets at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 14 at the Spenard Recreation Center. For details, contact 343-4355 or parks@muni.org.

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