City of Lakes Cross Country Ski Festival 2011

By Joseph Duffy Feb 9, 2011

Saturday Feb 5th. The Luminary Loppet:

"This is like a scene out of Oslo, Norway." That was the first thing my dad said when we saw the thousands of people donning skinny skis and gliding across the lake in south Minneapolis last Saturday night. Although we've both been heavily involved with the City of Lakes Nordic Ski Foundation (COLNSF) for several years now, neither of us had ever signed up for the Luminary Loppet. The event, a candlelit tour around Lake of the Isles, weaves skiers and snowshoers around spectacular snow and ice sculptures, hot chocolate pitstops, bonfires, live music and even fire jugglers. People young and old, from all walks of life seemed to all be out having a great time.

Thanks in large part to Mother Nature, (It was a comfy 30 degrees compared to temps in the single digits & bitter wind chills just days before) and the amazing staff and volunteers from the COLNSF who put on an event that I will not soon forget. It's one of those things that everyone I talked to has vowed to mark down as an annual event and never miss.

Sunday Feb 6th. The Loppet 35K Race:

By now you may have realized that since I am writing this post, I lost "the bet". This year my dad and I once again raced the 35K cross country ski race like we have done the past several years. But this time, the challenge was made that whomever had the fastest time between us, the other would write this recap. I should know better by now not to bet against him at HIS event. Not only does he have 20+ years more racing experience under his belt but it was on his home course and frankly he skis much more than I do. But all that aside, I mostly blame HIS grandchildren for keeping me preoccupied ;-)

All kidding aside, the race was a blast. With the Junior Olympics coming to town later this March, ( several changes were made to the course to accommodate the strict regulations for hosting such an event by World Cup standards. So racers like myself were treated to new uphills, downhills and many new twists and turns throughout the trail system. It is pretty amazing that something like this is right on the doorsteps of a major metropolitan city. With the downtown Minneapolis skyline in plain view for much of the race, it's a very surreal experience. One minute you are carving turns in a deep forest and the next you are crossing over interstate 394 where you are greeted with endless horns from the motorists passing by. This is truly the only "urban" cross country ski race in the world.

All in all it was a great weekend of outdoor fun.

I love this city!


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