The City of Lakes Loppet (www.cityoflakes.com) is back for its fourth year on Feb. 4-5. The Loppet offers a full weekend of cross-country skiing events highlighting the trails of Minneapolis and active lifestyles of residents.
The feature events are on Sunday, with the 35 kilometer classic and freestyle races and 10 kilometer tour beginning in Theodore Wirth Park and ending in Uptown. But the Saturday events offer a wide range of skiing-related activities, mostly taking place near Calhoun Square in Uptown.
Loppet Director John Munger expects the Saturday events to bring the competitors together with the community. “We have some wonderful things going on in Uptown on Saturday. Minneapolis residents should be proud of the city and the lifestyles they lead. These events will highlight the natural resources the city offers and hopefully get some people out to participate that might not otherwise.”
If your image of a cross-country skiier is a lonely guy wearing knickers disappearing into the woods for hours, you will want to take in some of the action on Saturday. The day begins at 9 a.m. at Wirth Park with the preliminary rounds of the Toko/Finn Sisu Sprints. Competitors will ski all-out on a challenging course roughly one kilometer in length.
The sprint format is among the most exciting in cross-country skiing, with winners often being determined by hundredths of a second. The goal of the morning is to qualify for the sprint finals that evening in Uptown.
While the skiers are going at Wirth,the streets of Uptown will be covered with literally tons of snow for the events of the afternoon and the next day. If you happen to be in the area in the morning, it may be worth a stop to see the machines moving all the snow.
At 2 p.m., as Monty Burns from the Simpsons would say, “Release the hounds.” The Fetch Skijoring Loppet gives skiiers and their dogs a chance to show their speed and skills. Race Coordinator Kevin Murphy said, “the Skijoring Loppet will be a great showcase for skijoring. Spectators will love it–the combination of dogs and skiers makes for exciting drama.”
Having participated in a skijoring race with our dog, Flink, I can tell you that the possibilities for amazement and amusement are huge when you put a bunch of dogs with their own personalities in the mix. Skiers will be racing with one to three dogs attached by a rope to a waist harness. While dog sledding is generally limited to northern breeds, spectators can be assured of seeing a wide range of “average” dogs as well as the huskies used by top skiers.
After the dogs clear out, the high school skiers take over. AT 3 p.m., spectators will have a chance to see some of the top high school skiiers in the area compete in the Rossignol Junior Loppet. Skiers will compete on a 5 kilometer course for grade level awards and an overall team championship.
At 4 p.m., it’s time for the little kids. The Sons of Norway Minne-Loppet is for kids 12 and under. The skiers will start and end on Hennepin Ave. in Uptown with a longer distanceavailable for the older kids.
This free “race” is a great chance to bring your child out to a fun event. The Minnesota Youth Ski League is making a limited number of skis available for the event, so even if your child doesn’t have skis, you should check this out. One of the best developments related to this event is the Bryn Mawr Skis Program. Students at the Minneapolis school have been learning to ski and get ting prepared to participate.
“Bringing the Bryn Mawr kids to the Minne-Loppet will be great fun. The kids are really excited and looking forward to the cheering crowds. Most of these kids have never received a medal before. For them the Minne-Loppet will be a truly special experience,” said Margaret Adelsman, the Bryn Mawr coach.
Our nearly three-year-old son is planning to ski in his this, so I asked him what he though about the race. “I’m going to wear my big boots.” He alsosaid that he plans to use his classic skis, since he doesn’t know how to skate yet.
After the pandemonium of the Minne-Loppet clears, the sprinters return at 5 p.m. The top skiers from the morning qualifying rounds will compete head to head in a tremendous venue. The sprint finals will include many of the fastest skiers in North America.
According to Sprint Coordinator Corey Brinkema, “the sprint finals in Uptown are as close as you can get to the Olympics without flying to Italy. The addition of the Citizenand High School categories will make these events even more fun for the whole family.”
The final event of the evening may be worth the trip alone. At 6:30 p.m., the course is opened up for the Caribou Coffee Luminary Loppet. Skiers will begin in Uptown and go out onto the Lake Calhoun course which will be lit by hundreds of ice luminaries. This is the first year of this event, and organizers expect it to be very popular.
The City of Lakes Loppet has become a very popular race in its short history. The big races on Sunday attract nearly 2,000 skiers, but the events on Saturday have a little something for everyone. SO whether you want to participate , watch or volunteer, you should make a trip to Uptown.
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