No, it's not the Olympics, but with five inches of new snow falling overnight, followed by a gorgeous sunny day, this year's Barnelopet was a day filled with excitement, ski lessons and fun-filled events for young cross-country skiers. The event took place Saturday, March 3, on the Grand Mesa.
According to Grand Mesa Nordic Council (GMNC) race organizer Tom Ela, the parking lot at the Skyway Nordic Ski area was filled to capacity with somewhere between 50 to 60 youthful John Burritt wannabes, their parents, brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, for the 10th annual Barnelopet.
Buritt, an Olympic record holder and a resident of Delta County, competed in the 1960 Olympics biathlon. Today, the biathlon combines cross-country skiing with shooting from both the standing and prone positions using a .22 caliber rifle. In John's day skiers used a large bore rifle.
Hosted and organized by the GMNC and sponsored by the Sons of Norway District 6, and the Sons of Norway Vestafjell Lodge 146, the Barnelopet (literally translated as children's race) is a noncompetitive cross-country skiing event for young people, ages 3 to 16, modeled after similar ski events in Norway.
According to the "Vestafjell Vanderer," the lodge's newsletter, "By holding these race days each year, we hope to introduce and promote the healthy and exhilarating sport of cross-country skiing to these young athletes, ages 3 to 16, while emphasizing its connection to the people and culture of Norway and Scandinavia."
Open to both boys and girls of all skill levels, the Barnelopet is a free event involving the whole family. Parents can either walk or ski along the course with their children. Many parents chose to line up at the finish line to cheer the young skiers on with cowbells and flags.
This year's event took place at the Skyway Nordic Ski Area, starting with free cross-country ski lessons for the youngsters in the morning, and finishing the day with a five-kilometer (3.1 miles) race, and the shorter, one and two kilometer beginner "fun" races in the afternoon. Ron Thorenson, spokesperson for the the Sons of Norway Vestafjell, said that when the event began, the temperature was a balmy eight degrees above zero. But it felt warmer!"
Something new this year, all events began and ended at the new GMNC warming hut and were run backwards compared to previous years' races.
And, in keeping with the 10 years of tradition, there were no losers, as members of the Sons of Norway presented all the youngsters with a souvenir flag of Norway and an honorary Norwegian citizenship, souvenir race bibs, free cookies, hot drinks and a beautiful Olympic-style medal as they crossed the finish line.
Thorenson, noting that many of the young people who have participated in past Barnelopets are now returning to participate in each year's event, concluded, "We are now beginning to get some great young cross-country skiers."blog comments powered by Disqus