It would only make sense that the Yellowknife Gold Loppet sponsored by Gold Terra would be a popular event this year.
But it’s never been this popular.
A record-breaking 430 people signed up to ski some portion of the loppet in 2021, the most ever recorded for one year, according to the Yellowknife Ski Club. Like last year’s loppet, this year featured skiers hitting trails around the Yellowknife area with several to choose from including Walsh Lake, Range Lake, Madeline Lake and Burwash.
Alyssa Titus was the co-ordinator for the loppet this year and she said the numbers this year reflect what’s been happening in other places around the world.
“The global interest in skiing has grown because of Covid-19 – people are looking for things to do to stay active,” she said. “Lucky for us, we have the space up here to give people many options to go out and everyone did an amazing job this year. It was such a co-ordinated effort.”
The trails were laid by the Guerilla Groomers, a group of volunteer groomers who lay down tracks for people to ski on, and that group included folks such as Kevin Hodgins, Niels Konge, Dave Kellett, David Gilday and Stu Impett, among several others.
There was no traditional bowl of chili at the end of the loppet for the second straight year but there were two cookies for everyone who skied courtesy of Kathi Woodward, who baked 1,200 of them on one month’s notice, said Titus.
With several trails to choose from, Titus said it’s tough to say which one was the most popular.
“I have no idea where most of the people were,” she said. “I know Walsh Lake had lots and Range Lake was expected to be popular. I thought about putting something up on (the) Zone 4 (website) and let people pick their trail so we knew where they were going but we didn’t want to tie people down to just one trail.”
One idea Titus said is being considered for next year is a passport of sorts so people can make a note of which trail or trails they skied on.
Of course, the big goal is to get back to the traditional venue of Vee Lake and have the start/finish line there but Titus said she would like to consider something a bit more within Yellowknife.
“I love the Vee Lake loop and it gets us all together but a silver lining would be to have the option of doing something in the city,” she said.
Heather Scott, president of the ski club, said having a record number of skiers was a big plus for her as well as everyone who pitched in to help.
“We are very grateful for the generosity of the many groomers and organizers,” she said. “I was particularly appreciative of the people who carefully and safely packed hundreds of individual race packages that so thoughtfully included the event buff, bib, stickers and the infamous loppet cookies for each participant.”