No shortage of smiles and excitement at the Reino Keski-Salmi Loppet on Saturday, Jan. 14.
The track setter was out 4:30 a.m. getting the routes ready. Operator John Thielman got creative and used the PistenBully to clear the parking lot of as much of the very wet snow and major puddles as possible.
Tents were up with all the various clubs madly waxing skis for the conditions. The Rotary folks were readying beef on the bun for the onrush after the finishers in each category came in. The soup folks were also readying for finishers. In the mix for both of these food offerings was the cadre of volunteers at the starting and finish lines, those marshalling out on the course, the announcer and assistant. It’s amazing how fast 10 a.m. arrives and the first start goes out: 34-kilometre all ages 18 and over and 17-km for 70-79 and 80+. In five minute increments the rest of the starts happen: recreational 30-km race, the 17-km and 10-km. The sit skiers went out at 10:30. In the meantime, the one and two-kilometre races for wee folks as young as 2 years old were being organized. A very busy stadium indeed.
My experience in the 17-km 70-79 year old category was terrific. A highlight was when I was skiing up one of the seemingly interminable hills on Ermine Frolic. Approaching the top, a young fellow skied up to my left, looked over at this woman who was obviously 6+ decades older than he, and said as he passed, “Nice job!” Sweet! That set me up for the rest of the route. Stopping at the South Hub aid station run by the Rotary is always a highlight. The way the 17-km route is configured, skiers pass this aid station twice. A real boon! Cookies, Gatorade, water, but most importantly, encouragement and cheering. Thanks guys and gals!
The weather co-operated for the awards to be done outdoors in the stadium. Onto the podiums climbed the winners in all age categories, from the wee kids to the elders. Having finished his wonderful job as replacement announcer (Steve King was not able to attend with assistant Phil McIntyre-Paul), Steve Fabro announced the age category awards and presentations. Then the overall winners: Xavier McKeever from Canmore, and female Maggie Beckner of Larch Hills Nordics. Very exciting to have a local skier top the field in the Reino Keski-Salmi Loppet!
The Heart and Stroke Foundation of BC and Yukon gathered a record $3,450 in donations through the loppet. Next year is the loppet’s 40th anniversary – lots to celebrate!
This weekend will be very busy on the hill with the Track Attack Championships being held Saturday and Sunday. These are races for skiers 8-12 years of age. Coming from all around the province, these young skiers will have a fun weekend! Jim and I are volunteering at the start line. I have my favourite job of “herder,” the person that calls the bib numbers out to get the kids to get to the start line. Sometimes it’s a panic to get to the start line but usually it goes very smoothly.
Natalie Wilkie is certainly doing well at the World Para Championships in Oestersund, Sweden. On her birthday, last week, Natalie won gold in the biathlon. What a marvellous showing!
Next Larch Hills Nordic Society meeting Tuesday, Feb. 14th.
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter