Loppet returns this weekend 

Annual race and festivities kick off month of XC racing

By Andrew Mitchell

The annual Whistler Loppet is one of the longest running events in town, celebrating its 29 th year this Sunday with kids events, an event for disabled skiers, and both recreational and competitive race divisions.

The Whistler Nordics are hosting the race, which starts and finishes at Nicklaus North and follows trails in Lost Lake. Kids aged 7 and under will tackle a 4 km course on the flats, while kids 8 to 13 will do a 6 km loop in the same area.

The athletes with disabilities course is 4 km, and will use the flat trail sections along the Nicklaus North golf course. The Whistler Adaptive Sports Program is partnering with the Whistler Nordics to hold the event.

The recreational course is 15 km, with two laps over easy to moderate terrain, while the 30 km competition course includes some of the most challenging hills in Lost Lake Park, including the upper Chateau Whistler Golf Course fairways.

The competitive group gets underway at 10 a.m. with a mass start, followed by the other competitive groups.

All races are free technique, which means you can use either skate or classic skis.

The cost of competing starts at $10 for kids, goes up to $15 for teens and is $40 for adults. That includes the race and lunch.

If you’re not a member of a Cross-Country B.C. registered club, such as the Whistler Nordics, there is also a $10 insurance fee. Extra lunches are available for $15.

At press time the weather looks better than last year, when more than 30 cm of new snow fell on the course, but the forecast is calling for temperatures around four degrees and possibly some rain. Come prepared for anything.

In addition to the Loppet, Whistler X-Country Ski and Hike is organizing a cross-country festival on Saturday, Feb. 10 with free lessons, demo skis, half price rentals, waxing clinics, snowshoeing, an outdoor barbecue, maple syrup snow cones, complimentary sleigh rides from noon to 3 p.m., and activities for kids. There will also be a pre-Loppet carb-load dinner at The Den at Nicklaus North for $15.

“We used to do this kind of thing many years ago when we had more snow, and the festivals were really nice and quite successful for the community,” Savio Otis said. “I wanted to bring it back, and give back to the community with a special day and festival for cross-country skiing.”

For people taking part in the Loppet, there will be advanced lessons to go over proper technique, while the waxing clinic will look at ways to keep your skis gliding over the snow.

As well, the barbecue will raise money for the Jackrabbits youth program, helping to fund coaches and provide support.

The Loppet is just one event of many planned for the month of February.

The following weekend, Feb. 17-18, the Spud Valley Nordics and Whistler Nordics will be hosting back-to-back Coast Cup events — number four and number five in the series.

Categories are available for kids as young as four, and there will be categories up to Masters 51 and Up.

The deadline to register for the Pemberton race is Thursday, Feb. 15 at 7 p.m. You can call in race entries to Delores Franz Los at 604-894-5117.

The next weekend, Saturday, Feb. 24, the Cross-Country Connection will again host the Lost Lake Shuffle, an enduro race where participants see how many laps of the course they can make in a set period of time.

This is the sixth year for the Shuffle, and there are a few changes. There is a four hour category for solo racers and teams of three, a 2.5 hour category for solo racers, and a one hour family race at 1 p.m. Junior teams are welcome and can do either a two-hour course or four hour.

This year the course is 5 km (2 km for families), with the top prizes going to the skiers or teams that complete the greatest number of laps in the least amount of time. The four-hour teams and solos start first at 11 a.m., and other categories join in to finish at 3 p.m.

The Shuffle is $60 for a team, $25 for a solo, $30 for a family or junior team, and $15 for a junior solo. The price of entry includes a chili feast and a chance to win draw prizes.

For more information or registration, visit www.crosscountryconnection.bc.ca.

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