ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Winding through the woods behind Service High is a short, 1-kilometer section of nordic trail known as Randy’s Loop. That’s where you’ll find a tree decorated with skis, and old shirt and a few touching letters of remembrance.
The tree is a makeshift memorial for the man after whom the trail was named. Randy Bergt, 60, was killed in an avalanche while skiing with two other people in Hatcher Pass Wednesday evening. He was buried under four feet of snow in narrow terrain, and while his friends did all they could to save him, they were unsuccessful.
Days later, friends and family are still coming to terms with the loss of a man they say made an immeasurable impact on Anchorage’s skiing community. Marcy Baker, who had been friends with Bergt for about 30 years, said his passion for the sport was unparalleled, and he had a knack for imparting that passion on others.
“The number of lives he touched was immense in the community so we're going to miss him,” Baker said. “He was always willing to lend a hand and lend advice to any aspect of skiing or just a kind word for what was going on in your life too, so he was a good friend that way to many people.”
Randy Bergt. Photo courtesy Kirk Johnson
One of the lives that Bergt touched was that of Anchorage firefighter Rob Whitney. Bergt was his cross-country skiing coach during his four years at Service High School in the early nineties. Whitney said they’ve been firm friends ever since.
“He was always positive,” Whitney told Channel 2 in an interview at AFD’s Station 9. “There was always a fun conversation you could have with him and inevitably it circled back to skiing.”
And while Bergt may be gone, Whitney says he leaves behind a lasting legacy on the community.
“Randy had such a lasting impression on us,” he said. “The values, the work ethic and all the things we learned from him and joked about and carried on in our lives. He really did influence an entire generation of skiers.”