XC season takes off with Lost Lake Shuffle 

Endurance race part of annual Ski Fest celebration

If you think of cross-country skiing as a quiet and leisurely glide through the woods, you might want to stay away from the Lost Lake trails during the annual Ski Fest celebration Jan. 19-20. The main event, the Lost Lake Shuffle Nordic Relay is all about cheering, grunting and grinding your way around a 3.5 km course over and over for four whole hours.

Ian Goldstone and Chris Waller of the Cross Country Connection modelled the race after mountain bike endurance races, and expect the same kind of crowds to turn out.

"It’s really long and really fun," says Goldstone. "Some people are going to be serious, some people are going to do it solo, but most of the people will be out to have fun."

You can do the shuffle alone or as part of a team of three that’s all-female, all-male, co-ed, or family. The individual or team with the most laps wins.

It’s a free technique event, which means you can use skate or classic styles to get around the course, which will include the Lost Lake Loop, Lower Panorama, and the Old Mill Road. Family teams will do the shorter Lost Lake Loop.

The goal of the shuffle and Ski Fest is to introduce people to cross-country skiing in a fun way and, with luck, get them hooked on the sport.

Cross-country skiing has already come a long way in recent years, with the annual number of day visitors to the Whistler trails increasing to about 25,000, compared to 10,000 only a few years ago.

"With cross-country skiing becoming a focus in the valley, there is a need to provide events that encourage involvement and fun," says Waller. "What better time than the Ski Fest weekend, the national celebration of cross-country skiing. Get your team together and come out for a ton of fun."

The Shuffle will also raise money to support local youth programs. Prizes will be donated and all the proceeds will go towards the Whistler Nordics Cross Country Ski Club’s Rabbits Program, a non-profit instructional program for kids 4 to 13 years.

There are currently 45 kids registered in the eight-week Rabbits program who will benefit from training and the certification of volunteer instructors.

The Nordic Shuffle will take place on Jan. 19. Pre-registration is recommended, and everyone who registers before Jan. 17 will also be charged a lower entry fee.

The cost for a solo entry is $25 then $30 after Jan. 17. Teams are $60 then $75 and families are $45 then $55.

Entry forms are available at The Cross Country Connection trailer, or by calling Ian Goldstone or Chris Waller at 604-905-0071.

Ski Fest, which is celebrated at resorts around the province, also includes a free day on Jan. 20, with free rentals, free trail passes and free instruction.

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