The fourth group of skiers kicks off their portion of the 2019 Pirate Loppet at the Larch Hills. (Jodi Brak/Salmon Arm Observer)

The fourth group of skiers kicks off their portion of the 2019 Pirate Loppet at the Larch Hills. (Jodi Brak/Salmon Arm Observer)

Pirates raid Larch Hills for 2019 Elementary Schools Pirate Loppet

Community, cross-country and costumes contribute to successful event

A sea of eye-patched and mustachioed pirates ascended to the Larch Hills on Friday, Feb. 1 for the 15th annual Children’s Pirate Loppet. With skill and boisterous energy 494 pirates in Kindergarten through Grade 8 exercised their “ski legs” over 2 to 5 km of wavy trail. Sixteen different schools from Armstrong to Sicamous and Enderby to Sorrento were represented with Silver Creek Elementary taking home the coveted “Jolly Roger” for the highest proportional representation. Best Pirate Costume awards went to Tove Brown (Bastion Elementary), Nathan Couch (Grindrod Elementary), Lucas Hansen (Shuswap Middle School) and Cheyanna Green (Grindrod Elementary).

Related: Video: Pirate Loppet takes to the trails at Larch Hills

This unique event, the largest children’s ski loppet in the province, is organized by local Nordic skiers eager to encourage skiing as an active, lifelong skill and an opportunity to experience local outdoor recreation. From seasoned skiers to some very new to the sport, children delighted in the mild weather, pre-race excitement, satisfying ski and the post race lunch. One pleased child jubilantly declared “It was a long way and I made it!”

Related: A drone’s-eye view of the 2018 Pirate Loppet

Community support was apparent in all facets of the event. The Shuswap Lady Striders that served the post-event hot lunch, the pirate-garbed registrars and course marshals that directed, encouraged and entertained the skiers, the Shuswap Black Powder Club that provided the start cannon and the local businesses and organizations that donated their time, equipment, money and draw prizes. Announcer Cap’n Tom, in pirate regalia, brought energy and humour to the event by cheering and cajoling with pirate banter and a vast repertoire of pirate jokes. Over the past eight years, $22,000 has been raised from the event and donated back to local schools to assist them in the purchase of cross-country ski equipment to support their ski programs.

Submitted by Pat Danforth

Salmon Arm Observer