Alaska News Nightly: January 5, 2009

Bitterly cold temperatures are still gripping most of the state, but it warmed up enough in Anchorage today to hold the first of the U.S. Cross Country Ski Championship races. Plus, a new mayor took over in Anchorage as Mark Begich prepares to begin his Senate term in Washington, D.C.

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National ski races underway in Anchorage after cold delays
Annie Feidt, APRN – Anchorage
Cross country skiers in Anchorage for the National Championships finally got the chance to race this afternoon. Temperatures far below zero postponed the competition both Saturday and Sunday. Today, women skated a 3-mile course and men skied double that distance. Anchorage skier Kikkan Randall came in second, behind midwest racer Kaitlin Compton. Kris Freeman from New Hampshire won the men’s race about 50 seconds ahead of Montana’s Leif Zimmerman.

Extended cold snap puts interior Alaska to the test
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
National Weather Service Meteorologist Cory Bogel in Fairbanks says a high pressure ridge continues to pump frigid air from the Yukon Territory into the state. He says the cold air mass that’s sinking temperatures is holding steady.

Claman replaces Begich as Anchorage mayor
Len Anderson, KSKA – Anchorage
In Anchorage, this was an historic weekend. Like other communities, residents celebrated the 50th anniversary of the signing of the proclamation for Alaska statehood. But there was also an historic occasion for the Municipality itself.

Conference of Young Alaskans in full swing in Girdwood
Duncan Moon, APRN – Anchorage
A group of 55 young people are gathering in Girdwood this week for the Conference of Young Alaskans. The delegates are coming up with plans for shaping the future of the state in several different areas including the economy, the environment and education.

Sitka teen’s design to wrap Alaska Airlines 737
Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock, KCAW – Sitka
A Sitka teen whose artistic skills were recognized over the weekend will soon see her talent flying Alaska’s skies. Sitka High Junior Hannah Hamburg won the Grand Prize in the Alaska Airlines “Paint the Plane” competition, open to all Alaskans in grades K-12. Hamburg’s winning design was unveiled Saturday as part of Alaska’s 50th anniversary statehood celebration in Anchorage and will adorn an Alaska Airlines 737 sometime this year.

Sounds of life under the Bering Sea ice
John Ryan, KTOO – Juneau
These are some seldom-heard sounds of winter in Alaska. They’re the calls of bowhead whales, recorded under water, and under ice, in the Bering Sea.

Alaska Native dancers head to Washington for Inauguration
Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska – Juneau
A Southeast Alaska dance group will be part of January’s inauguration festivities in Washington, D.C. The Juneau-based Herring Rock Dancers will perform at several Native American events held in conjunction with President-elect Barack Obama’s swearing in.

New book sheds light on the life and death of Will Rogers
Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
On August 15, 1935 the comedian and actor Will Rogers died in a plane crash just south of Barrow. He was on an around-the-world flight with pilot Wiley Post when the plane’s engine failed on take off. John Walsh recounts the incident in a new book called “When the Laughing Stopped: The Strange, Sad Death of Will Rogers.”