Monday, April 11, 2011

"The Dome" in Anchorage

While Saturday in Anchorage was a nice day at about 45 degrees, today we've had 5-7 inches of snow fall. With conditions like this, it is no surprise that Anchorage has a dome for indoor track meets, soccer games and even football. Saturday was the first track meet of the season, with 31 schools participating in dozens of events over two days. As we were driving down Minnesota Dr., the dome rose above the mounds of gravel in the industrial section like a huge pile of manure. Taking the Raspberry Road exit, we pulled into a packed parking lot.

The dome is a plastic, pressurized, blown-up building. Special doors keep it pressurized, and Douglas even mentioned that his ears popped when we left the building. Inside there are a few offices and the just-over-a-1/4 mile track is right there. Stands about 10 benches high line one entire length of the building. A weight lifting area is tucked into one corner, while the high jumping, pole vaulting and 3 portapotties are tucked into another. Midfield, the teams were spread out, each one claiming a spot with sleeping bags, pillows and equipment set out. The shot put and discus were at the far end of the field, with netting protecting everyone from flying missiles.

I was impressed with the efficiency the meet seemed to be run with. Officials had their computers hooked up for photo finishes and timing; a number of people were hooked up with earpieces for communication with other officials; binoculars were out; on-track officials got race after race of kids lined up and out of the starting blocks. From looking at the schedule, it was running on time, quite a feat.

What probably impressed me most is what an advantage Anchorage athletes have over athletes from nearly every other community in Alaska to have the use of this dome. In Homer, the fields still have snow on them and the kids will be heading up to Anchorage this weekend to play the first soccer game of the season in this dome, and yet they have yet to run one lap up a field. They've been playing in gyms, like soccer players all over Alaska, while Anchorage players can be on turf all winter long. Yet this is still an awesome thing to have a dome so that playing can happen at all. Outdoor games in 30 or 40 degree weather and rain or snow are not fun (for most--some uber athletes in AK do love such challenges!).

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