|Outfielder Zac Carey runs for the ball during the Fur Rondy snowshoe softball tournament at Kosinski Fields on Saturday. (Bob Hallinen / Alaska Dispatch News)|
Organizers and attendees of the annual Fur Rendezvous winter festival in Anchorage might be excited for the classic sprint sled dog races and the carnival rides, but one of the greatest pleasures of this year's celebration is perhaps the simplest: snow.
For the past two years, a sorry powder accumulation in Anchorage around the end of February meant disruption or even cancellation of events that have been standbys for years.
"The past two years have been miserable as far as, in the minds of people, they don't feel it's time to Rondy if there's no snow," said John McCleary, the event's new executive director, who began in December. "It just wasn't the same."
But this year, it feels like things are back to what most would consider normal. As of Friday, snow near the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport measured 25 inches deep, National Weather Service meteorologist Rebecca Duell said. Compare that to a measly 1 inch of snow dusting the first day of Fur Rondy in 2015 and just "trace" amounts for the start of the festival last year.
Snow levels were pitiful enough the last two years that "many" people called asking if the whole event was cancelled, McCleary said. Snowshoe softball, sled dog races and rides, and the outdoor hockey tournament have all been compromised in recent years.
At Kosinski Field on Saturday morning, players in the annual Fur Rondy snowshoe softball tournament trudged along the baselines in an absurd slow-motion version of the sport, trying to make it to each base without falling over their massive footwear. ...