Cross-country skiers are eagerly awaiting the City of Lakes Loppet cross-country ski races Feb. 5-6, which wind from Theodore Wirth Park through the Chain of Lakes and finish in Uptown.
The event is expected to draw its best batch of skiers yet because it is now an Olympic-qualifying race. In May, Loppet organizers reached an agreement with the United States Ski and Snowboarding Association that classified two Loppet races, the Finn Sisu sprints and the Loppet Freestyle race, as Olympic-qualifying events for the 2006 Winter Olympic trials.
The Loppet features other races and events besides the big two. New events include a preliminary sprint ski at Wirth Park with a relay to follow, the Totko/Finn Sisu sprints in Uptown, a junior Loppet race at Lake Calhoun and two Loppet awards.
The Saturday, Feb. 5 schedule is:
– Preliminary sprints for the Toko/Finn Sisu sprints start at 9 a.m. at Wirth Park, followed by sprint finals at 5 p.m. in Uptown;
– National Masters relay starts at 11 a.m. in Wirth Park;
– At noon, the Junior Olympic qualifying finals begins in Wirth Park; and
– The Sons of Norway Minne-Loppet kids event starts at 7 p.m. in Uptown, followed by open skiing at 8 p.m.
The Sunday, Feb. 6 schedule is:
– The Hoigaard's Classic, a 35K race starts shortly after 9 a.m., following the same route as the freestyle race, starting at Wirth Park;
– The REI 10K race starts at 9:30 a.m. at Wirth Park but detours with a shortcut to the Hennepin Avenue finish in Uptown;
– The Rossignol Junior Loppet, a 5K race, starts at 9:30 a.m. at Lake Calhoun and ends in Uptown;
– The main race - the City of Lakes Loppet, a 35K freestyle - starts at 10:30 a.m. and goes from Wirth Park to Uptown; and
– At 3 p.m., the awards ceremony will conclude the Loppet events at Calhoun Square.
On both days, Calhoun Square, 3001 Hennepin Ave. S., will host a "Vendor Village" for race-related businesses and also serve Saturday as event registration, bib and packet headquarters. Registration will open on Feb. 5 from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Calhoun Square's Vendor Village will again be open Feb. 6 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Bib and packet pickup will also be available Feb. 6 at the Wirth Chalet from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m.
Want to know more?
See www.cityoflakesloppet.com for detailed information on individual races or race registration.