Almost 500 young cross country skiers took part in the annual Larch Hills Pirate Loppet on Friday, February 1, 2019.
The blasting cannon, which signals the start of the loppet, sets the tone as skiers, teachers and organizers alike dress up in their best pirate attire for the fun event!
This long-running and unique event, thanks to tremendous volunteer and community support, is the largest children’s ski loppet in the province. It is not a race but rather a participation event and is designed to encourage youngsters to learn how to cross country ski. “The local Nordic skiers are eager to encourage skiing as an active, lifelong skill and an opportunity to experience local outdoor recreation,” explains one of the organizers, retired teacher and avid skier Pat Danforth.
From seasoned skiers to some very new to the sport, the children delighted in the mild weather and good ski conditions and the great post race lunch, she added.
Sixteen different schools from Armstrong to Sicamous and Enderby to Sorrento were represented with Silver Creek Elementary taking home the coveted “Jolly Roger” for the highest proportional representation. Best Pirate Costume awards went to Tove Brown (Bastion Elementary), Nathan Couch (Grindrod Elementary), Lucas Hansen (Shuswap Middle School) and Cheyanna Green (Grindrod Elementary).
Community support was apparent in all facets of the event. The Shuswap Lady Striders served the post-event hot lunch, pirate-garbed registrars and course marshals that directed, encouraged and entertained the skiers, the Shuswap Black Powder Club provided the start cannon and the local businesses and organizations that donated their time, equipment, money and draw prizes. Announcer Cap’n Tom, in pirate regalia, brought energy and humour to the event by cheering and cajoling with pirate banter and a vast repertoire of pirate jokes.
The support doesn’t stop there. Over the past eight years, $22,000 has been raised from the event and donated back to local schools through a grant application program to assist schools in the purchase of cross-country ski equipment to support their ski programs.
Danforth explains it added up to:
- 40 Ski Host club volunteers helping 455 students at Larch Hills totalling 1223 visits over 4 weeks
- Distance options of 2 or 5 km
- 2 cm of fresh snow groomed by our skilled, volunteer master track setters
- 1 bombastic cannon – thanks to Shuswap Black Powder Club
- 494 Pirate Loppet registrants and over 50 parents and teachers from 15 schools
- 12 Shuswap Lady Striders that made and served 650 hot lunches in under 2 hours
- 40 draw prizes – one for every 10 children
- IMMEASURABLE children’s enthusiasm, joy and pride in accomplishment.
Danforth also thanked community sponsors and supporters: Toliver Advertising and Design, Askew’s Foods, Tim Hortons, Hub Barton Insurance, Skookum Cycle and Sport, Columbia Shuswap Regional District, Stella Jones, Argo Road Maintenance, LA Sign, Salmon Arm Ready Mix, H2O4U, Boston Pizza
Check out the Salmon Arm Observer’s video here: Pirate Loppet takes to the trails at Larch Hills
Photos courtesy of Pat Hutchins