By Steve Hubrecht
Like a flurry of snowflakes, snow and ice-centric events are coming on fast and furious in the Columbia Valley.
Cross country skiers will take the stage this coming weekend, when the valley’s showcase nordic event — the Nipika Panorama Loppet — takes place.
The loppet includes both classic and skate skiing races, with the classic races at Nipika Mountain Resort and the Cross River Canyon recreation site on Saturday, Jan. 27, and the skate ski races at Panorama Mountain Resort on Sunday, Jan. 28.
“It’s a great family-friendly competition, with a great atmosphere,” said event coordinator Nada Courtliff. “Both venues are beautiful and have great views.”
The classic races at Nipika include distances of 1.5 km, 3 km, 7.5 km, 15 km, and 30 km. The skate skiing races at Panorama include distances of 1.5 km, 3 km, 7.5 km, 10 km, and 20 km.
Registration is done online at Zone4.ca and must be completed prior to race day. The event functions as a fundraiser for the Toby Creek Nordic Ski Club.
The loppet has been running for many years, and traditionally was a one-day event held solely at Nipika. Following a COVID-19-related hiatus, in recent years the loppet has been expanded to include Panorama as a venue and has become a two-day affair.
Courtliff noted there are very few loppets that are two days long and fewer still that give participants a chance to race at two different venues.
“It’s pretty unique in that way,” she said.
The loppet attracts plenty of Columbia Valley nordic skiers, but also quite a few from other parts of the East Kootenay and from Alberta.
The Nipika Panorama Loppet is the first of four loppets that collectively comprise the Pacific Northwest Loppet Series. The others are the Ski to the Sun Loppet in Mazama (early February), Washington state, the Coast Outdoors Payakentsut in Whistler (late February), and the Sovereign 2 SilverStar Ski Marathon in Vernon in the Okanagan (early April).
Nordic skiing and loppets are an “excellent activity that the whole family can do. It’s a great way to get outdoors and exercise. And it’s a lot of fun,” said Courtliff. She added that both Nipika and Panorama have good nordic ski conditions this year, in contrast to a great many other nordic ski centres in B.C. which have suffered a lack of snow.
Organizers are still looking for volunteers to help run the loppet, said Courtliff.
Anyone interested in learning more, signing up, or keen to help out as a volunteer should visit www.nipikapanoramaloppet.com.