A record number of excited four-year-olds, and a more composed group of four-score-plus skiers enjoyed themselves at this year’s 40th anniversary “Leap Year Loppet” in Duck Mountain Provincial Park (DMPP).
“Two-hundred and forty-nine ecstatic skiers were treated to a fabulous minus 7C temperature and excellent snow conditions to start their day on February 29,” said Bruno Lemire, Loppet chair. “As the weather warmed up during the afternoon, skiing conditions became more challenging.
“For many of the returning participants, the ski conditions were being reported as excellent, and one veteran, Dale Hjertaas of Regina, just had to go another 20 kilometres after completing the 45-kilometre route, racking up a memorable 65-kilometre tour for the day,” he said, adding an acknowledgment to the DMPP staff who “work well with the Kamsack Ski Club to maintain the trails.”
Seventy-five skiers participated in the Loppet for the first time, with 47 classed as “Jack Rabbits,” the term given to those 12 and under. Jack Rabbit participants were from Kamsack, Preeceville, Yorkton and Regina.
KCI (Kamsack Comprehensive Institute) students participating in the event included Reed Woodworth, Macy Martinuik, Meesha Romaniuk and Ella Ruf, all completing 10 kilometers.
Woodworth, age eight, was accompanied by his mother April Macdonald, who also skied the 10 kilometres of trail. “Reed was such a trooper,” said Macdonald. “The weather was fantastic.”
A special banner to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Loppet was created by some students of KCI and it was hung on display for the event. The new signs and maps which were erected on the trails earlier last year were well received by participants.
The Loppet recognized the following participants who qualified for special certificates according to the number of Loppets they have attended: Pam Whyte of McLean, and Jack Spruyt and Erin Tyson of Regina received a seven-year bronze certificate; Pauline Bloom of Stonewall, Man., and Lisa Neill and Aldona Torgunrud of Regina, 10-year silver; Barb Trofimenkoff of Kamsack, fifteen-year gold, and Jim Rudy of Kamsack was presented with the “ultimate 20-year lifetime certificate,” which entitles the owner free admission to any further Loppets at Duck Mountain. Jim’s wife, Sharon Rudy, received her lifetime achievement at last year’s Loppet.
“We have skied and snow-shoed on trails from Manitoba to British Columbia, and the best trails are found in Duck Mountain Provincial Park,” said Jim and Sharon.
To date 16 skiers have qualified for the lifetime award, with seven of them participating in the “Leap Year Loppet,” including Ken Achtymichuk, a charter member of the Duck Mountain Loppet. Charles and Kaye Achtymichuk, charter members of the Loppet and Ken’s parents, were in attendance for the day, although they did not ski.
“For Ken, this year was his 28th Loppet,” said Lemire. “The leader, with 30 appearances, is Gene Josephson of Regina. Congratulations to all for their achievements.”
With cross-country skiing being a physical activity sport, with the possibility of an accident happening, Lemire said it was very gratifying to the skiers and the organizing committee to know that anyone who might require medical attention would be taken care of during the event.
“For a number of years we have had the generous services of Duck Mountain Ambulance Care (DMAC),” he said. “This year the services were greatly augmented by having the Canadian Ski Patrol (CSP) here to assist. There were nine patrollers out on the trails, led by Erin Tyson of Regina.”
The CSP has over 5,000 members and provides first aid services to over 230 Alpine and Nordic ski areas across the country, and their motto is “Professional, passionate, proud,” he said.
“Finally, what better way is there to end such a fulfilling day than to relax and meet with family and friends over a scrumptious, home-cooked meal?” Lemire continued. “Rose Mydynski and her team of volunteers at St. Michael’s Camp made that happen as is evident from the following comments taken from the skier evaluation sheets: ‘Best meal in seven years’; ‘Vegetarian options, Yum!’ and ‘Cabbage rolls were amazing!’ and more along those lines.”
After the banquet, Allan Bear, Kamsack Ski Club president, presented Bruno Lemire with several token of appreciation for his role in chairing the Loppet committee for its entire 40-year existence, and for having helped found and organize the event for the past 40 years. Lemire was rewarded with a standing ovation for one full minute by those in attendance.
“As Loppet chair, I wish to acknowledge all our sponsors, donors, DMAC, CSP, and the 27 friendly, conscientious, hard-working volunteers who are the glue that holds this event together,” he said. “I’d like to extend a special welcome to newcomers Bob Wynes and Shanley Allard. Hopefully you will be back nest year with new ideas and suggestions.
“Thank you to the record-breaking 249 skiers, and remember: ‘Don’t be sad that it’s over, be glad that it happened,” said Lemire with sincerity.