This past Saturday cross-country skiers enjoyed the 28th Annual Lake Placid Loppet at the Olympic Sports Complex Cross-Country Ski Center. Novice and expert skiers alike skied the same track as the 1980 Olympic athletes.
So what is a loppet? Basically, it refers to a long-distance cross country ski race in which participants mass-start and skate various marathon distances. Like most marathons, a lot of food is consumed during the event, and a party, banquet and awards ceremony is held after the races. The term “loppet” originated in Scandinavia, where cross country races are an important part of the culture. For example, approximately 15,000 people participate in the Mora Vasaloppet in Sweden and nearly 2 million Swedes watch it on television. The sport originated as a mode of transportation and became a national pastime.
Even in North America, loppets are popular. Canada holds the Canadian Birkebeiner in Alberta and the Keskinada Loppet in Gatineau, Quebec. Races in the US include the American Birkebiener in Wisconsin and the Royal Gorge’s California Gold Rush, in Soda Springs, California.
Cross Country skiing is a unique sport which encompasses two styles for participants to ski across terrain for certain distances. Classic style is usually skiing on a prepared trail with certain prescribed techniques; free style, however, allows the skier to ski with whichever technique they choose and skate skiing (skiing with shorter skis) is allowed. Most races are long distance; in the Lake Placid Loppet, they are 25 and 50 K races.
Despite the extremely cold temperatures this Saturday, skiers still had a lot of fun competing. “I had a great time- it was an excellent course, well groomed, and well taken care of. The race was difficult but lots of fun”, said Jade Penright Holmes of Oshawa, Ontario, Canada. The winner of the 30-35 age group and 6th Overall in Classic, Holmes enjoyed competing at the Lake Placid Loppet and hopes to return to compete again.
For more information on the Lake Placid Loppet, visit the event site at http://www.whiteface.com/events/lop.php.