Tuesday
Aug052014

Visitors to Alaska come for Adventure and Pong

This year is like many summers, Feel the crisp cold air, rumble of the power and enormity of the scale of the massive glaciers of Alaska! tourists come to our great state to see the wildlife in Denali, ice caving glaciers, marine life in south central and enjoying the midnight sun of the north land. Karl and his older sister Karen at Portage Glacier in the mid 60's As a lifelong Alaskan I like many locals take for granted the beauty of our wonderful state.   I've been to Portage Glacier when I was about 7 years old and remember the ice caving and floating up to the parking lot edge!  Now the glacier has receded and it takes a boat ride to feel the roar of the caving ice.  

Alaska is a wondrous state.  And 2014 has been an exceptional summer for south central Alaska.  Exceptional warm weather with records sunny days has blessed our city.  Along with the nature the state hosts table tennis sessions year round.  And with visitors coming to Alaska its a great opportunity to invite them to our many clubs statewide.  

In 2013 we were honored to host Will Shortz and Kyle Yan hitting at the Pavilion in Anchorage, June 6, 2013 New York Times crossword puzzle editor Will Shorts and Robert Roberts from the Westchester Table Tennis Club.  Will came to Alaska to continue his goal to play table tennis every day for a full year.  His 7 day journey to the state presented some tricky adjustments as he hit Juneau first with Bob Janes, Tim McLeod and company.  Next passing through Homer  and taking on Jimmy and Gary Gao while taking in the sights of the Spit and halibut country.  Then swinging through Anchorage on June 6th, (Karl Augestad's wedding anniversary and birthday) and taking on the gang at the AT & T Sports Pavilion.  Then of course heading up north to the FITT club in Fairbanks while seeing the "Great One", Mt. Denali aka" Mt. McKinley.  And yet still having time to pop back to Eagle River to the home of our first Alaska Table Tennis Hall of Fame inductee Boyd Bennett.  Both Will and Robert have traveled many miles to play this great sport in the desire for adventure and pong.

Well this summer we have visitors from Homer, Bethel, Karl, Joey and his wife Lucille and little Nevah from Bethal Alaska. Passing through and playing at the concrete table, June 21, 2014 Kotzebue, New York, Utah, Washington, Nevada, California, Korea, China, Germany and Europe.  Along with seeing the sights many contact us to play table tennis and most bring their gear to fit in a session or two.  When our club is notified early by these travelers we have often made special sessions in Anchorage or Eagle River to accommodate their schedule.  Many clubs like ours love to get challenges from new styles of players.  And this year is a hard bat chopper and hitter, Ralph Stadleman from Las Vegas is passing through twice while taking on the scenery.  Alaskans Kyle Yan and Karl Augestad joined Ralph in 2011 at the North American Teams in Baltimore MD representing the Arctic Frost Spin Team.  

Another top player, Karl-Josef Assenmacher from Germany is arriving August 5th should join us for 3 days while starting his journey through Alaska in route to the Alaska International Senior Games in Fairbanks in mid August.  What is special about Karl-Josef's visit, he is the current world champion from the Huntsman World Seniors Games in 2000+ level open singles and 65-69 age division single.  And along with that title Ralph and Karl-Josef are multiple (nearly 10 times claims Ralph) winners of their age group at this festive and competitive competition.  While at the AISG he will be joining top Alaskan women, Diann Darnall.  Also a multi year Gold and silver medalist who is obsessed with table tennis and the promotion of sports in Alaska.  Diann has proven to be a big promoter and advocate for inviting players she meets at these events to come to our state for pong and Alaskan adventure

In recent years South Korean  airline pilots Mr. Ha and Mr. Noh contact our club when stopping over on a couple of days layover.  Some intense high level action with new groups as they shop, dine and find time to play some competitive table tennis.  Another national and world traveler, Bill Ukapatayasakul from San Diego joined us in early 2000 when our club was meeting at the API facility.  An interesting session with another visitor from With sometimes only a day or two notice we can contact the local hard core players to set up a special drop-in session.   

I have to admit local sightings in Anchorage of moose and eagles are common.  But the real tours include the Prince William Sound in South Central Alaska.  Seeing the puffins, walrus, seals, whales and otters.  Hiking and camping in our parks allow visitors to be close to nature.  So try some fishing and land a salmon or Charter a boat and fight a giant halibut.  These adventures could make your Alaskan experience a memory of a lifetime! Oh yeah, play some pong at one of the local clubs or outdoor parks.  

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