Pirates take over Larch Hills

For some of the kids at the Pirate Loppet last Friday, this was only their third time on skis. For some it was their only

For some of the kids at the Pirate Loppet last Friday, this was only their third time on skis. For some it was their only. Regardless of ski ability, it was evident the gang of 505 elementary school kids – with a few middle school kids in the mix – were there to celebrate the piratey day in loppet fashion.

Everyone, adults and kids alike, is encouraged to dress up in the pirate theme. Everything from slapping on a moustache and/or a pirate hat/scarf to the elaborate and creative pirate outfits really added to the atmosphere. Cutlasses and blunderbusses were abundant.

With the addition of the two-kilometre route to the existing five kilometre, each skier from grades two to eight had an opportunity to have a wonderful ski.

The school with the largest percentage of participants was Grindrod with 37 per cent of their student population skiing the event. Good show.

On the weekend previous to the Pirate Loppet, the Larch Hills Nordics hosted the BC Midgets Championships which attracted 250 skiers from around the province, plus Canmore, Alta., and Methow Valley, Washington.

This competition is limited to skiers nine to 12 years old and is such fun to be a part of.

As a member of Keith Hepburn’s timing crew, I was blessed with the job of organizing the skiers at the start line with Barb Heckrodt for the interval starts on Saturday, then the relays, then the sprints on Sunday.

A nicer gang of kids you couldn’t find. With them as our future the sport is in good hands.

We have talked about going to Methow Valley for many years, so having had so many come up from Methow for the Reino-Keski Salmi Loppet and the Midgets, it resparked the interest.

We headed across the border last weekend into Washington to see what this Methow Valley was all about.

Just over five hours from Salmon Arm got us to Winthrop, then on up the valley to Mazama where we had a cabin for the six of us right adjacent to the trail.

There’s a lot of snow in this valley, with 200 kilometres of trail groomed every day. Understandably we managed to ski only a fraction of the ski area but hear from other Larch Hills skiers that the four major sectors in the ski area each have their own appeal.

Where we were staying was in the valley bottom close to Mazama. It was mostly flat, so that gave us the opportunity to work on our ski skating technique. Concern about the American dollar was softened by the Methow Valley ski association offering three-day ski passes to Canadians at par.  You gotta like that!

We were skiing the trails that were used for the two-day Pursuit race held there the previous weekend in which four of our Larch Hills skiers entered – not only entered but made their mark. On the first day, Thomas Hardy was sitting second after the 30-km classic leg, Winthrop to Mazama. On the second day, by virtue of his time in the classic race, he was sent out on the 30-km skating leg back to Winthrop one minute behind the leader.

By the finish, Thomas had made up the minute and pulled past the leader in the last kilometre, winning the race and the two-day pursuit trophy. How very exciting!

Just as Methow Valley skiers have made their mark in Larch Hills events, Larch Hills skiers have made their mark in this Methow Valley event.

Great conditions on the hill – on track and backcountry. What a ski season we’re having.

The Larch Hills Nordic Society meeting is next Tuesday, Feb. 9, 7 p.m., Room 1, Salmon Arm recreation centre.

All current and prospective members welcome. No large issue like the chalet expansion vote, which attracted more than 200 members to last month’s meeting, but if you like to keep abreast of the workings of the society, do attend.

Great goodies and tea follow the meeting give everyone a chance to mingle.

Think snow.


Salmon Arm Observer

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