The term “Loppet” originated in Scandinavia where you have such great events as the Mora Vasaloppet in Sweden and the Birke Beinerrennet in Norway.
In the Vasaloppet in Sweden, the skiers ski from Berga to Mora (90Km) to commemorate the same trail the king of Sweden (at the time it was Gustav Vasa….hence the name Vasaloppet) skied about 500 years ago. About 15000 people take part in the Vasaloppet and approximately 1.7 million people watch it on TV.
So you are wondering, “What is a Loppet”. It is a great gathering of skiers who ski on a specifically groomed trail either classic (diagonal stride) or free (skating technique) of various distances. Enormous amounts of food and drink are consumed during the event. After there’s a party and celebratory banquet with awards and prizes and usually a time (dance).
The Loppet means different things to participants. For some it’s intense competition, for others it’s a relaxing way to spend a day outside, taking in the pristine beauty of the country side or wilderness, and enjoying the home grown entertainment and great food and drink at the rest stops along the trail.
In Canada, there are some great Loppets like the Canadian Birkebeiner in Alberta; the Keskinada Loppet in Gatineau Quebec; the Mont-Ste-Anne Loppet in Quebec; the Don Allen Saskaloppet in LaRonge Saskatchewan; and the Great Labrador Loppet in Newfoundland and Labrador to name a few.
In the USA, you can ski the famous American Birkebiener in Wisconsin; the Minnesota Finlandia in Bemidji, Minnesota; Great Glen to Bretton Woods Adventures, in New York ; or the Royal Gorge’s California Gold Rush, Soda Springs, California.
Loppets in Newfoundland and Labrador are becoming more popular each year. Some events that are of a Loppet nature are the Snowy Owl Classic, Stephenville; the Newfoundland Marathon (various locations); the Big Land Loppet in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Labrador; the Newworld Island Challenge, Summerford; the Butterpot Open, Avalon Nordic, St. John’s; The Don’t Hang Up Your Skis at Mount St. Margaret, the Northern Peninsula; the PAL Great Labrador Loppet at the Menihek Nordic Ski Club in Labrador City and Blow Me Down Loppet, Corner Brook.
Some of these events are still up coming on the schedule this winter. Check out the website CCNL for the events schedule. www.geocities.com/nlccsa
One of the most exciting events take place in Labrador West each March is the PAL Great Labrador Loppet, in its 31st season. This year’s Loppet will take place on March 25th, 2006. Usually around 300 skiers young and old take part in the PAL Great Labrador Loppet, the only Loppet to go between two Provinces Newfoundland and Labrador and Quebec. Starting in Fermont, Quebec and finishing in Labrador City, Newfoundland and Labrador. The trail is groomed for both techniques of classic and free, you can ski 25km, 50km, or 10km whatever your pleasure. Then after the Loppet you can attend, the award ceremonies banquet and dance and have a great end to your Loppet day.
No matter which Loppet you ski, you should be aware that these events don’t just happen, there are many volunteers for the organizing committee, the actual event, the awards and banquet ceremonies. And all these events would also not happen without the support of the many sponsors.
So now that you know more about the term Loppet, why don’t you make it a plan to participate in one yourself, whether you ski, volunteer or become a sponsor, its all a great pleasure to remember. It’s healthy living and a lifestyle that will contribute to your wellness in the future.
Happy trails to you! See you at the Loppet.
Gerry Rideout is president of Menihek Nordic Ski Club in Labrador City and Vice-President of Cross Country Newfoundland and Labrador Ski Association for the Labrador Region.