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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Pia's Classic~Learning about Who Pia was

When in Anchorage for the Pia's Classic Ski race, Patrick and I learned about the legacy of the Pia's Classic race name.
AMH, a wonderful local ski supply store in Anchorage, sponsors the race every year. We are frequent customers of the store and learned that the owners daughter was named Pia and was killed in a climbing accident when she was 15. On the Pias Classic website, there is a link to "Learning about who Pia was". I cut and paste it below:

Pia-Margrethe Denkewalter was born April 9, 1981, and died in a climbing accident on Byron Glacier August 4, 1996 at age 15.
Pia was she was an avid outdoor sports enthusiast and a student at West High. She excelled in many sports, participating in cross country skiing and track at West High, and she participated in training groups and camps in those sports. She was also a soccer player with Team Alaska. She had just discovered mountain biking when she died. Pia was a fierce competitor who was always eager to try something new.

Her family, Paul and Mary Kaye Denkewalter, and sisters, Ingrid and Grethe, remember this about her:

Pia loved reading, particularly history. Her flare for fashion was one of her trademarks. She also was a movie buff, memorizing lines, scenes and musical scores from dozens of movies – Monty Python was her favorite. A musician for many years, she played the violin.

Pia was a perfectionist who refused to do anything halfway - she was proud of being a 4.0 student at West High School. Always a lady, she had no qualms about speaking out for what she believed. Pia set goals for herself and worked tirelessly to achieve them.

Her friends, who treasured her enthusiasm and her sense of humor, will miss the way Pia could always make them laugh. Her wit and outlook on life frequently took center stage whenever friends and family were gathered. She was a loyal and steady friend. She will always be remembered by her family and many friends who loved her.

Her father, Paul, is a kind and familiar face at AMH when Patrick and I have gone there over the years. Patrick asks him questions about wax, trail conditions, gear, etc. During my 5K race, the course took us past Pia's overlook, where there is a bench overlooking Cook Inlet and a sign that reads, "Pias Overlook". This year there was a wreath hanging on the bench. As I skiied past it, I thought of Pia, and her family and a fear tears welled in my eyes.

As a mother, I was filled with thoughts of love for Pia's family, her sudden loss and reminded of how precious time with our kids are. Patrick said that before the start of the race, the announcers talked about Pia and how the race was named after her. AMH donated high quality Arteryx hats to all the participants as well as a lot of ski-gear door prizes after the race.

What a wonderful way of honoring the memory of Pia and giving those who never knew her a chance to celebrate her spirit.



Patrick shortly after the finish. Quite tired!
The start of the womens 15K. Julie is...#220. Third from the right in front.
Julie before the start of the race. Cool face mask! Lots of people were wearing air filter devices and face covers, as the temperature was -3. (I frost-nipped my ears!!).
A tree covered in Frost.

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