Minnesota winters are always snowy. Yeah, except for this year. In fact, as I write it’s 40 degrees out and more snow is melting. I haven’t been cross-country skiing or even snowshoeing this year. It’s weird. And, unfortunately, our warm temperatures have interfered with fun local events, like the St. Paul Winter Carnival, which canceled snow sculpting (Winter Carnival events, through Feb. 5).
This weekend’s City of Lakes Loppet (Feb. 4 & 5) is another event challenged by the warm winter. Usually, the ski race runs 33 kilometers through Theodore Wirth Park, across Cedar Lake, Lake of the Isles, and Lake Calhoun, ending in Uptown Minneapolis. This year, the race will run entirely on a 3.3-kilometer path at Theodore Wirth Park. Skiers will do multiple loops on both artificial snow and snow hauled in by organizers. Yes, the event will go on.
Photos by Todd Buchanan
Saturday schedule: Enjoy the snow sculpture contest, ski games and more on MOA Family Day, then watch the Penn Ice-Cycle Loppet (a bike race on the ice), Chuck & Don’s Skijoring Loppet (where dogs pull human skiers), the Rossignol Junior Loppet, and more. Don’t miss the beautiful, illuminated Park Nicollet Luminary Loppet that night. Usually an evening ski, the Luminary Loppet this year is for walkers only and will talk participants past more than 1,000 ice luminaries (runs every half hour from 6-8 p.m.).
Sunday schedule: View snow sculptures and go tubing before watching the Hoigaard’s Classic (9 a.m. start), REI tour (9:45 a.m. start) or the main City of Lakes Freestyle Loppet (10:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 a.m.). There’s a beer garden and vendor village open from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. and more activities throughout the day. Awards will be presented at 3 p.m. at the Wirth Parth Chalet.
To watch the event, head over to parking lots at Mortensen Construction and Optum Health in Golden Valley and take a shuttle to Theodore Wirth (many roads close to the park will be closed during the event). Shuttles will run Saturday from 9 a.m.-11 p.m. and Sunday from 7:30 a.m.-4 p.m.
You gotta love the dedication of the organizers of this event, who are making it work during such a warm winter. If you’ve been missing winter, come cheer on the Loppet this weekend!