News & Stories

2012 Loppet Festival Focuses on Wirth Park

January 28, 2012, Theodore Wirth Park, Minneapolis, MN.

Succumbing to the warm temperatures and lack of snow, the City of Lakes Nordic Ski Foundation has made the decision to switch all festival events to Wirth Park.  Thursday’s warm temperatures played havoc on the course.  Ironically, the snow that fell earlier in the week played a role.  Snow that melted on Thursday ran into the lakes via culverts.  Where the culverts emptied into the lakes, the already-weak ice conditions eroded even further.  The weak ice combined with the lack of snow and a more-of-the-same-warm-temperatures forecast told organizers that it was time to re-think the Uptown finish concept.

“With little to no chance of using the Chain of Lakes, it did not make sense to go forward with an Uptown finish,” reasoned John Munger, executive director of the Foundation.  “By making the move now, we can plan a great event for Wirth Park; if we had waited we would have likely ended up with a sub-par Uptown event or an event that was cancelled altogether because it was too late to change . . .”

Wirth Park has a 3.5 kilometer loop of artificial snow that is not going anywhere soon.  Unless the temperatures reach the mid-70s the snowmaking loop will provide world class skiing.  For Saturday, the 3.5 kilometer loop is more than enough to accommodate all of the different events. For Sunday, the distances will be significantly reduced and the skiers will need to do multiple laps.

Wirth Park’s northwoods type setting will provide a wilderness-in-the-City experience.  The Foundation expects the Wirth Park based Loppet festival to be a great, if different, event.  The Loppet will include all the same features:

  • Park Nicollet Luminary Loppet – with 1,000+ luminaries, the Ice Pyramid, fire dancers, hot cocoa stations, a 10 ounce pour of Surly beer for each adult participant, and the even-more-enchanted forest.  The big change for the Luminary Loppet is that it will be a hiking event this year.
  • Chuck & Don’s Skijoring Loppet – on the snowmaking loop both Saturday and Sunday,
  • Southwest Journal Snow Sculpture Contest – 16 artistic snow sculptures – watch the carving Saturday morning or enjoy the finished products throughout the weekend,
  • Penn Ice-Cycle Loppet – studded tires and studly bike riders on ice,
  • Surly Beer Garden – beer brewed right up the road from Wirth Park,
  • Rossignol Junior Loppet – young skiers going fast,
  • Loppet Kubb Tournament – Swedish lawn game with cash prizes on the line,
  • Cook County Minne(sota) Loppet – everyone is a winner in this non-competitive event for kids 12 and under,
  • Finn Sisu Sprints – some of the fastest skiers in the nation – and the fastest Paralympic skiers in the world – compete for cash prizes,
  • Minnesota Youth Ski League SuperCarnival – kids games on skis – free, with limited equipment available,
  • REI Tour – Go at your own pace in this non-competitive tour,
  • Hoigaard’s Classic – some of the best classic-style skiers in the state,
  • Loppet Freestyle – Olympic caliber athletes competing for cash prizes and pride,
  • Vendor Village – a variety of vendors in the sports and fitness industry in the big tent.

Shuttle buses will run throughout the weekend.  Families will have an opportunity to view the snow sculptures, watch the skijoring and the ice bike race, participate in skiing races and events, check out the vendors in the big tent and even go tubing at the Wirth Park tubing hill.
“With all the events concentrated in one area, it will arguably be the best Loppet ever for viewing,” commented Ingrid Remak, the Foundation’s Outreach Coordinator.  “Skiers will be doing laps on Sunday, which is not ideal for them, but for participants it is even better because they can see the skiers multiple times . . .”
For more information, visit  Note that updated information on this year’s altered events will be posted to the website in the next few days.  Check back for details.