Unplugged at the loppet

The loppet is Salmon Arm’s premier cross-country ski event, drawing more than 450 entries to the Larch Hills Ski Area

The Reino Keski-Salmi Loppet may have started two days before Unplug and Play Week began, but the ski event really epitomizes why getting away from our electronics can be such a good thing.

The loppet is Salmon Arm’s premier cross-country ski event, drawing more than 450 entries to the Larch Hills Ski Area. It is a top-notch event, which appeals to top racers of the calibre of Brian McKeever, a gold-medal wining Paralympic athlete.

It really is a testament to the organizing committee and the 200-plus volunteers, that the event runs so smoothly and is made so enjoyable for so many. They deserve bouquets for a job well done.

While there is a competitive element, the Reino Keski Salmi Loppet is not just a ski race. It is open to skiers of all skill levels, who can enter non-competitive recreational classes in varying distances.

This results in a truly-family friendly event. It was delightful to see families with three generations participating, especially the ever adorable Gullan Hansen and her children and grandchildren. At 79, Gullan is the only person to have skied in all 29 loppets, and she always does so with a brilliant smile and an enthusiastic word for every skier out there.

The loppet has many classes for children and youth to race and participate and participation is encouraged even further by the fact that Larch Hills skiers in the children’s Jackrabbit program get free entry into the event.

As well, parents are welcome to support their children by skiing right alongside them and encouraging them along the way. This year, the loppet organizing committee made the event even more appealing to the youngest skiers, adding a one-kilometre distance for children four and under.

I had the privilege of entering my four-year-old twins in this inaugural class and skied along with one of them. My older daughter skied the two-kilometre event and it was with great joy that I was able to see all three of them come across the finish line.

As a parent, it was so satisfying to see the excitement in their eyes as they approached the finish, heard announcer Steve King call out their names and saw the spectacle of flags and cheering crowds. Being part of the whole scene makes them really feel a sense of wonder and accomplishment — and is instilling in them a love for healthy, outdoor pursuits.

It is also reinforces in my mind the value of getting out and playing with our kids, instead of getting behind our television and computer screens or exercising only our fingers on our iPhones.

My children will have good memories of the loppet likely for the rest of their lives — would they have the same from playing a video game? I think not.

There are still more Unplug and Play events taking place this week. Check out the schedule on page A14 for some ideas.


Salmon Arm Observer