Opeongo Hill Nordic Ski Club near Brudenell held its fifth annual Opeongo Classic Loppet on January 26, a cross-country ski event suitable for participants at all levels. Thirty-nine adults took to the trails in 10 km and 20 km events – some for the challenge of racing and others to enjoy the scenery from the groomed trails. Nine youngsters from the club’s Kids Program skied 2.5 km and 5 km courses, encouraged by ten adults skiing along behind them. Loppet coordinator Peter Cruchet said the highlight for the finish line officials was the beaming faces of the kids as they crossed the finish line.
Kids Program skiers waiting to start their event
The winner of the Kids Loppet was Hayden Smith of Barry’s Bay who told The Current,
I love to cross-country ski and the race was a good test. Though it was exhausting (I believe they choose the course for its uphills) it was fun. At one point my dad caught up and asked who was ahead of me and it was awesome to be able to say “no one”. When I crossed the finish line I could barely catch my breath, but I was glad I did it and super happy that I won!
Click BELOW for a brief video showing the start of the youth 5 km race.
The majority of the adult racers were from Deep River, Pembroke and Ottawa. One couple visiting from Yellowknife skied in the event. Alice Berthiaume from Pembroke won the women’s 10 km and Paul Kadziora from Ottawa won the men’s 10 km. Nancy Manning of Chelsea won the 20 km women’s race and Mark Orzel of Ottawa won the 20 km men’s race.
Cruchet praised the thirty volunteers who helped make the loppet a success. Some of them finished grooming the trails at midnight the night before the race; others helped as course marshalls, timers, or by serving hot drinks and chilli. Conversation at the post-race gathering centered around the fabulous trail conditions, the diversity of the terrain and the friendly atmosphere. The event concluded with awards and a raffle of prizes from the Club’s many sponsors.
Some of the Opeongo Hills Nordic volunteers: At food tent from left: Linda Deluca, Marnie MacKay; Inside warm-up yurt from left: Val Hinsperger, Dawn Cruchet, Wendy Milne, Bill MacDonald
Featured photo at top: Skiers at the start of the 20 km loppet