Loppet Foundation

Snowy Adventures at Loppet Ski Camp

This article was posted on Tuesday, January 10, 2017

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The coaches and skiers at Loppet Ski Camp this winter were particularly lucky in that we were able to spend all five days of the week on snow! Over their winter break from school, students spent their days having fun while learning and developing cross country ski skills on the Theodore Wirth Park snowmaking loop. While we were fortunate to have a great man-made trail to practice on, we made a few adventures to the natural snow loops and attempted to make the icy snow skiable, but had less success.

Throughout the week the younger campers learned the basics of skiing, while older campers dove right into zipping around the trails and timing runs up and down the old tubing hill. Campers of all ages enjoyed playing games like SkiBall, maneuvering around obstacle courses, simply going up and down hills (maybe they spent a little more on the downhills than the up, but one goes with the other — right?). Teams also had fun doing relays, and exploring around the ice fields en route to a secret bonfire with s’mores. One team managed to even create their own curling rink.

I originally scheduled a snowman-making contest, but with minimal snow, I didn’t expect much to come of it. But lo and behold, our oldest group managed a four-ball snowman (that could only stand when the whole team held it in place, but an impressive feat nonetheless!)

One highlight of the week for me came on Thursday morning. I wanted to see if all the campers could ski the snowmaking loop a combined total of 100 times. We had about 50 campers, so this meant each one had to complete 2 laps, or 5 km. It might not seem all that tough, but for our youngest group it was sure to be a challenge, so we expected the older groups to put in some extra work. Now, before telling the group about this plan, I tried to come up with a good reward to motivate the kids. But to my surprise, as soon as I said the word “challenge,” half of the camp was lined up and ready to go! They took off and all in all, the campers put in a total 130 loops that morning and I’m sure they could have done more. Next winter, I’m making it a 150 loop challenge!

At the end of the week, we had the honor of hosting guest coach, Jake Brown from the US Biathlon Development team. Jake is an all-around nice guy, but he also happens to be a super fast skier and more recently, a biathlete. He came out Friday afternoon and showed the kids how to approach the range, how to get in and out with turbo speed, did a little target practice with tennis balls and a basket, and ended with some tennis ball biathlon relays.

At the end of the day, Jake talked about how after being a cross country skier his whole life, he’s trying this new sport, and with it, there is a lot of immediate success and failure. He told the kids about how when you do well, you can get a big head about it or you can remain modest and continue working hard. And when you fail, you can either give up or sulk, or you can keep going and turn it around, and try to do better the next day.

For many of the kids at camp, cross country skiing is a brand-new sport. After the week was over they learned many new things, including the fact that trying new things can be difficult and sometimes intimidating. The skiers at Loppet Ski Camp had great attitudes the whole week and and a whole lot of fun working on their skills. The other coaches and I hope they keep skiing this winter and join us again next year!

— Coach Allie Rykken