By Steve Hubrecht

Another much-loved annual event is back on the Columbia Valley calendar.

The Toby Creek Nipika Panroama Loppet has been on hiatus since prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and finally returned last weekend.

The conditions were chilly but spectacular, with temperatures dipping down to – 8 degrees Celsius during the first part of the loppet on Saturday, January 28 at Nipika Mountain Resort and the Cross River Canyon Recreation Site. Then there were more sunny skies and it got even colder, with the thermometer flirting with – 20 degrees Celsius, for the Sunday, Jan. 29 part of the event at Panorama Mountain Resort. Both parts were organized by the Toby Creek Nordic Ski Club.

Turnout was great with more than 185 competitors between the ages of four and 74 taking to the courses on Saturday for classic ski races (which ranged between 1.5 kilometres (km) and 30 km in distance). Sunday’s skate skiing races had 90 registered racers signed up for distances from 1.5 to 20 km.
“After three years of COVID cancellations of the Loppet, the club was excited to host this annual event once again. This year’s event represents the 37th year of hosting a major cross country ski event at Nipika,” said Nipika co-owner and nordic ski club member, Lyle Wilson. “Skiers from as far away as Taiwan, the USA, and all parts of Canada participated in this weekend’s sports event.”

Wilson pointed out that the loppet weekend is a major fundraiser for the Toby Creek Nordic Ski Club and that funds go directly into supporting the Jackrabbit and junior development youth programs and to helping maintain the Whiteway and Lake Lillian Ski Trails. He extended acknowledgement and thank you to the many volunteers and supportive local businesses who help put on the weekend.
The Toby Creek Loppet Weekend is part of the larger Pacific Northwest Loppet Series, which includes events such as the Ski to the Sun race in Washington state, the Hyack Loppet in Whistler, the Sun Peaks Loppet in Kamloops, and the Sovereign to Silver Star races at Silver Star Mountain in Vernon.
“(On Saturday) the Toby Creek Nordic Ski Club had a large team of Jackrabbit, junior development team, and adult skiers participating in all the different distances in both male and female categories,” explained Wilson. “Notable local performances came in the 15 km mens distance, men 40-49 years, with a clean sweep of the podium by the coaches of the club’s youth program”. Those coaches include: third place, Ryan Shanks; second place, John Courtliff; and first place, with a time of 56:47.2, Stephan Kuhn.

Local skier, Lenni Stich, clocked the fastest 15 km lap time on Saturday, with a finish time of 48:07. Fellow Columbia Valley skier, Virginia Denchuk, placed second in the overall 15 km women’s race with a time of 1:03:10.

To see the full results visit