Larch Hills was invaded by 467 skiing pirates from grades one to eight for the 16th annual SD83 Pirate Loppet, on Friday, Jan. 31. With “neckerchiefs” and parrots the whiskered skiers cumulatively logged over 2,000 kilometres along the five kilometre and one/two kilometre courses.
There were 17 schools from Armstrong to Sicamous and Enderby to Sorrento represented, with North Canoe Elementary taking home the coveted Pirate Loppet Flag, their “treasure” for having the most skiers per school population.
The spirit of the event was captured by two young skiers who finished together, each sporting one ski on and one ski off. One had technical difficulties with their ski; the other chose to remove a ski, so that they could ski together, in solidarity and with laughter.
The event was made possible by incredible support from the community. Throughout January, over forty Larch Hills ski club volunteers hosted hundreds of children, introducing them to the trails. These sessions enabled the young skiers to develop their skills and gain confidence in this lifetime sport.
School District No.83 (North Okanagan-Shuswap) Assistant Superintendent Carl Cooper acted as official starter along with Shuswap Black Powder Group’s Mike Brown and his trusty black powder cannon.
The Shuswap Lady Striders served up hot lunches to all and dozens of Larch Hills Nordic Club volunteers served to direct traffic in the parking lot, distribute and collect number bibs, groom a perfect ski track, and keep the skiers on course and safe.
Numerous local businesses and organizations donated their time, equipment, money and draw prizes. “Arrr” announcer, Cap’n Tom, fostered the atmosphere with his pirate banter and a string of knee-slapping pirate jokes. Special thanks to Robert Hutchins and Pat Hutchins for the photos of the event.
Funds raised through the Pirate Loppet are given back to schools in the form of a grant to purchase cross-country ski equipment. Last year, $10,700 was granted to five different schools around the district. Schools are invited to forward a proposal letter to the organizing committee now. The grant announcement will be made by March 1.