With more snow on the ground for the eighth annual City of Lakes Loppet cross-country ski event than in any previous year and registration running 20-percent ahead of 2009, Feb. 6-7 should be a busy weekend in Southwest.
During those two days, the City of Lakes Nordic Ski Foundation’s urban ski festival will feature multiple ski races for participants of all ages and skill levels, ski games for kids, a bicycle race on ice, a snow sculpture contest, a tent party and more. The main event is a 33-kilometer freestyle race that starts in Theodore Wirth Park and winds through woods, parkways and over lakes to finish in Uptown.
Last year, the event drew more than 6,000 participants, up from around 3,500 the previous year, said race director John Munger. The event also brings thousands of spectators to the area. Munger expects this year to be the biggest yet.
After several grassy years, this winter’s heavy snowfall has been helpful, Munger said, but organizers still plan to haul in some snow this year to help make the trails perfect, especially in the finish area near the Walker Library.
Several roads will be temporarily closed to auto traffic during the weekend, according to the Loppet website. Lake of the Isles Parkway between Dean and Calhoun parkways will be closed Feb. 5 from 7 a.m.–1 p.m., Glenwood Avenue across from Wirth Beach will close Feb. 7 from 9 a.m.–1 p.m., Theodore Wirth Parkway near the Quaking Bog will close Feb. 7 from 9 a.m.–1 p.m. and Humboldt, Irving, James and Knox avenues between Lagoon Avenue and 28th Street will be closed from 7 a.m. Feb. 6 to 9 p.m. Feb. 7.
Parking will be largely unchanged except where streets are closed. For more specifics, along with complete registration, volunteer and spectator information, go to cityoflakesloppet.com.
Below is the event schedule, according to the site.
8 a.m.–1 p.m.: Snow sculpture contest on the mall behind Walker Library; judging is from 1 p.m.–3 p.m.
11 a.m.: Penn Ice-Cycle Loppet on a short track between Lake Calhoun and Lake of the Isles
1 p.m.: Chuck & Don’s Skijoring Loppet (dog and skier teams), a 4.5-kilometer race starting on the south end of Lake of the Isles and ending on the mall behind Walker Library
1 p.m.–9 p.m.: Beer, BBQ and vendor village outside Walker Library
1 p.m.–3 p.m.: Minnesota Youth Ski League SuperCarnival, ski games just off the Midtown Greenway near Hennepin Avenue
2 p.m.: Rossignol Junior Loppet (age 18 and under), a 5-kilometer race around Lake of the Isles that starts and finishes on the mall behind Walker Library
3 p.m.: Sons of Norway Minne-Loppet, a free, short ski loop for children 12 and under on Lake of the Isles that starts and finishes on the mall behind Walker Library
4 p.m.: Toko/Finn Sisu Sprints, fast-paced 1-kilometer races on the mall behind Walker Library
4 p.m.–6 p.m.: Pasta feed at Old Chicago on Hennepin Avenue in Uptown
6 p.m.–9 p.m.: Luminary Loppet (leisurely ski event lit with candles in ice blocks) on Lake of the Isles and tent party near Walker Library
9:15 a.m.: REI Tour, a 10-kilometer, non-competitive ski event starting at Theodore Wirth Park and finishing on the mall behind Walker Library
9:20 a.m.: Hoigaard’s Classic, a 25-kilometer classic-style race starting at Theodore Wirth Park and finishing on the mall behind Walker Library
10:30 a.m.: City of Lakes Freestyle Loppet, a 33-kilometer race starting at Theodore Wirth Park and ending on the mall behind Walker Library
11 a.m.–1 p.m.: Minnesota Youth Ski League SuperCarnival, ski games just off the Midtown Greenway near Hennepin Avenue
10 a.m.–3 p.m.: Beer, BBQ and vendor village outside Walker Library