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Old School Event Report: The Viking Loppet
By:  Karl Saidla   (2008/03/12)


In an earlier article I outlined a few of my complaints with respect to some of the more modern race courses and formats. This event report allows me to provide an example of a race which is successful despite making few concessions to new trends.

The Viking ski club is one the oldest ski clubs in North America with a strong Norwegian heritage. The club is situated near Morin Heights, in the heart of the Laurentians. The Viking Loppet, in various incarnations, has been running in various formats since, basically, the beginning of time.

My impression is that the majority of the trails used for the loppet have not been significantly altered since that date, which gives the race a very special character that is well worth seeking out. The course description includes: “This event is a challenging course in keeping with the legendary reputation of Jackrabbit Smith-Johannsen. The course is designed for serious, experienced skiers with strong stamina and solid downhill and climbing skills.”

Like, no kidding eh? For once this year, virtually every facet of classic cross country ski technique was tested, with the exception, perhaps, of “fence crossing” which I have heard discussed in some circles as being an established and practiced technique at one time. Please talk to my old friend Rolf Mamen about that one…

Techniques used this year included the usual diagonal, kick double pole, and double pole, but also included the “Jay-Ski”, which is a high speed road crossing, followed very quickly, I might add, by “Downhill Drive-Thru” (downhill feed zone negotiation). For proof, please see the following from the course description: “At Lac Perdu, the course joins the Blue trail and heads north where there are several steady climbs followed by a short but steep and difficult descent to Jackson Road and a feeding station”. Some other, less glamorous, but certainly required skills included the “any which way you can” which amounts to a canted herringbone/sidestep. While I am no expert at “the Snowbird”, also known as an airborne direction change, I will be concentrating on improving at it during the off-season.

In addition to being challenging, the trail is very scenic and unique in that it is a “point-to-point” event that finishes in the town of Morin Heights where a very festive atmosphere awaits. Shorter events are also included, so, like many loppets, it makes for a great group or family outing.

The trip to challenge the Viking Loppet was made by XC Ottawa members Karl and Megan, who were joined by our sometimes wax technician Liam Watson, and the equally skilled and multi-talented Erin Despard.

The pictures below serve to document the weekend. The link to the results does likewise, and indicates that Megan and Liam are now both 1-0 over Karl in head to head competitions this year. Despite a plea from Karl for a chance to even the score, Liam has insisted on taking his victory home with him for the summer, untarnished.

In any case, the Viking Loppet is a highly recommended and definitely worthy of some kind of “skiing heritage” designation in my books! Check it out for next year at www.skiloppet.com.

viking loppet fashion
High Fashion

morin heights night club
Erin getting "checked out" the night before. Liam and I fought them later.

viking loppet teamwork
Nobody, gets nowhere, unless the team wins. This is teamwork.

viking loppet karl saidla
The most work Karl did all night

“High Fashion... in Action”. (Photo by Ron Crotogino)

Watch out, you can get a ticket for “Jay-skiing”. (Photo by Ron Crotogino)

erin_despard1.jpgRacing with a smile. Not uncommon at the Viking Loppet. (Photo by Ron Crotogino)

Interesting Reading. . .
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