GATINEAU SKI HOTBED
2,500 expected for Loppet
This weekend the 37th edition of the Gatineau Loppet will bring together hundreds of cross-country skiers to École Secondaire Mont Bleu in Gatineau where a jampacked weekend of racing will take over the trails of Gatineau Park.
“This is really something that is part of the history here in the region, like the Canadian Ski Marathon, two very important skiing events here in Canada,” Loppet president Yan Michaud said about the largest cross-country ski event in the country.
“We are also part of the 16-country cross-country ski circuit called Worldloppet.”
The Worldloppet consists of 16 races in Europe, North America, Asia and Australia that started in 1978.
In addition to being part of the Worldloppet, the Gatineau event features a race in which skiers can earn points toward the Canadian championships. Saturday’s 51-km classic style race is sanctioned by Cross-Country Canada.
In addition there is also a 51K skate on Sunday. Both of those races will begin in La Peche and come down through Chelsea before finishing in Gatineau.
In all there are 12 races of varying distances starting at two kilometres scheduled for the two days. Saturday features classic style while Sunday is for skating, also known as freestyle.
Typically about 20 per cent of the registration for these types of events signs up just before the event so final numbers aren’t known quite yet, but Michaud said organizers expected to have about 2,500 racers from 24 countries on hand.
He adds that he would like to see that number grow.
“We’re looking forward to reaching that 2,500 mark and keep growing it by about 500 each year,” Michaud said, adding about 70 per cent of the skiers come from Quebec and Ontario, with the large majority from la belle province.
For the second year there will also be snowshoe races in three different distances. Last year there were about 100 racers.
“We’re part of the snowshoe circuit in Quebec and we’re trying to develop a snowshoe circuit in Ontario,” he said.