Races coming up on the calendar; hope left for winter!
I was feeling really optimistic about this winter in December, when everyone was doubtful about the winter. I thought, “HEY FOLKS, there’s a lot of winter left!” And I suppose there still is. How many winters have we had the miraculous week before the City of Lakes Loppet blizzard that saved the day? How many gorgeous blue sky March storms have gracefully dumped on us, much to a skier’s delight and much to many others’ chagrin? We really just need one good old fashioned snowstorm to transform Minnesota into a snowy paradise.
So before I get into race logistics, I just have a few bullet points on what I’m feeling good about these days:
- I was personally REALLY grateful for every inch of additional snowmaking loop that’s out there now in the Twin Cities - a full Elm Creek, a full Hyland (hello Boulder Ridge!), the wooded loop at Battle Creek that blocks the wind and fills the spirit, and Wirth has added hills and kilometers and a dose of hope. All of these places feel like small miracles, even with the deep cold last week. It’s like the butterfly out of the cocoon. Time to fly, people!
- Adventure - seekers UNITE! The North (and South?) has snow! I’m writing from a Twin Cities perspective here, but northern MN has some optimistic trail reports - places south of here - Eau Claire, Black River State Park in WI, places in Iowa (what has the world come to…?) And 50 inches in the UP! The Keweenah pulls through! Word is it's a bit dry but I sort of feel like snow is snow at this point. So, because really, nobody should be picky at this point, let’s find solace in the idea that there is snow out there, should we have the opportunity to go seek it out.
- Community. We still have it. Races are still happening and people are still out skiing with their friends. And that’s pretty alright.
Okay, on to our Tour de Finn calendar:
- Marine O’Brien - cancelled (insert sad feelings here) - we have to give the natural snow races all the love here, because there’s not a ton of them left, if you look at the race calendar. Fewer than you’d think, definitely the case in the Twin Cities. We will be all the more thrilled to ski those delightful trails next year.
- City of Lakes Loppet - (Minneapolis) February 3 - long skate - whatever this ends up being. The COLL website suggests it will likely be 4-6 laps of 5-6km loops. The good news is I think many of us can ski this course with our eyes closed (not recommended but just saying), and it is a home course to many. Not to mention the World Cup course this year (!) This is a well-organized event and a big joyful community celebration in a lot of ways. Registration closes on 1/31 at noon, so make sure to get signed up!
- Vasaloppet USA - (Mora, MN) February 11 - long classic - this beloved Mora organization that seemingly involves the entire town pouring their hearts and time into it is dedicated to putting on an event, and currently has 7km of snowmaking trails. We’ll stay tuned for the latest, but I have no doubts they will put on the absolute best and longest course and event they can. What a gem! The next price hike is January 27, so register soon.
- River View Loppet - (Brule, WI) February 18 - this event was rescheduled from January 20 and we are cheering them on as they are hoping to make this happen with a little more snow. Hosted at the After Hours Ski Trails, this is a fundraiser for the Brule XC Ski Club, and features beautiful trails, terrain, and pasties at the finish!
- Pepsi Challenge - (Biwabik, MN) March 2 - I have big hopes for this one. Lots of time to stack up some snow for the incomparable trails at Giant’s Ridge. More outlook to come, but mark your calendars!
Also, a logistical note that the points rules state that we’ll take the top six races for individual rankings. We’ve only had two races pull through so far due to lack of snow and cold temps, but if you look at the lineup, we have four more potential races. If we end up with fewer races, we’ll just count what we have and we'll remember this was all mostly for fun and support ski races.
Happy Trails, y’all! Keep your poles down, heads up :)