Loppet marks 32 years of successful skiing

Last Thursday with the Geezers we skied up Treebeards and down Greenway, a backcountry adventure in powder snow conditions

What a great snow year this ski season in the Larch Hills!

Last Thursday with the Geezers we skied up Treebeards and down Greenway, a backcountry adventure in powder snow conditions and brilliant sunshine.

Anyone who has skied these trails knows how special it is to be skiing skinny, non-trackset trails surrounded by huge snow-laden trees. Around every corner you find “Smurfs” – akin to the blue comic figure but in this case snowy white – a flexible youngish tree bending over with the weight of accumulated snow. A rather comic sight.

In talking to skiers from other Nordic ski areas I realize that we are blessed to have this backcountry option in the Larch Hills. If you are interested in joining a group in a backcountry adventure, get in touch through the Larch Hills website –   www.skilarchhills.ca.

Both the Wednesday Wenches and Thursday Geezers tend to do backcountry on their weekly outings. Due to the depth of snow in the backcountry, fat basket poles are recommended/necessary. They are easy to find at garage sales.

When I awoke on Saturday morning of the Reino Keski-Salmi Loppet I mused: “32 years! How did that happen?!”

Thinking back on the first decade of the event, mid ’80s to mid ’90s, I chuckle to think of the innovative ways the timing crew managed to get the final results out in this pre-electronic and pre-Internet era.

The finish in these years was at the chalet in its old location. Unwieldy as it was to have runners heading over with the times for each finisher, a clothesline was fashioned on which the hand timers clipped the time sheets then pulled them up to the small window upstairs in the chalet where the results team would record the time and type out the age category results.

The challenge was to get the results as soon as possible after the final skier came in down to Ian Wickett to print out the hard copies for the skiers at the awards ceremony at 5 p.m.

It was a bonus to get them there by the wine and cheese at 4 p.m.

But we would keep them back until after the awards ceremony so the ceremony wouldn’t be unduly interrupted by folks discussing the printed results among themselves.

Fat chance we could do that now with everyone checking out the results on Zone 4 on their cell phones!

And with Internet and electronic timekeeping at the loppet now we can have the results down to Ian and on Zone 4 immediately. What changes three decades brings.

The Reino Keski-Salmi Loppet attracts skiers of all ages, from 2 to 81. Being a family event there are many families from which all members skied in the event. And there was at least one three- generation family participating. Certainly a lifetime sport.

BC Midget Championships run this weekend at Larch Hills. About 400 skiers 9 to 12 years of age from around the province converge for a weekend of ski racing.

Then there is the elementary school Pirate Loppet on Friday, Jan. 29. Many Larch Hills volunteers have been helping for the past two weeks with the various schools’ ski programs. Great fun to introduce these kids to Nordic skiing, and then see them compete in the Pirate Loppet.

Enjoy this amazing winter. Think snow!


Salmon Arm Observer