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Banff loppet back to in-person event

“You can feel people’s excitement around it. It’s been a rough few years for a lot of folks, so to be able to generate some positive social experiences I think have been great.”

BANFF NATIONAL PARK – Costumes, fresh air and two hundred loppeters will once again be ready for race day – on the same day – through Banff National Park’s wild backcountry.

After two years of virtual cross-country ski racing, the Lake Louise to Banff Loppet and Relay returns to an in-person event on Jan. 21.

“I am very excited to have it back to in-person,” said loppet organizer Heidi Widmer. “You can feel people’s excitement around it. It’s been a rough few years for a lot of folks, so to be able to generate some positive social experiences I think have been great.”

With waxed skis and a sense of adventure, loppeters start the 52-kilometre trek at Chateau Lake Louise and finish at Sawback day-use area on the Bow Valley Parkway. Registration is open for solo skiers and teams of up to four. A long-standing tradition among some racers has been completing the course in colourful costumes.

In late 2019, the athletic excursion was taken over by Widmer, a 2014 Olympian in cross country skiing, continuing the loppet’s long history dating back to 1929 when skiers finished the course in downtown Banff.

“The real magic of the loppet for me is, regardless of my competitive and elite sports background, we need grassroots sport regardless of how far you want to take it,” said Widmer. “I think It’s really integral to Canadian culture.”

Two of the three years that Widmer and a group of volunteers have run the event were during the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced the organizers to pivot and re-think how the race was done. During the pandemic years in 2021 and 2022, the loppet switched over to virtual events that were spread out over a few weeks. However, a virtual race won’t take place this year, according to Widmer.

“I reached out to Parks Canada and we’re capped at 200 participants and that’s pretty firm for our event,” said Widmer. “It’s a unique event that it can happen in the park over such a long area.”

Due to a lack of snowfall over the past few weeks, the loppet course may be slightly adjusted. Updates will be provided on the loppet website (www.loppet.ca) before race day.


Jordan Small

About the Author: Jordan Small

Jordan Small joined the Outlook in 2014 and covers the vast world of sports in the Bow Valley. A Barrie, Ont. native, he also wrote for RMO's Mountain Guide section and the MD of Bighorn beat.
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