MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – This year’s wimpy winter is now having an impact on a big Minneapolis event — the City of Lakes Loppet, which will take place next weekend.
With warm temperatures and a lack of snow, the City of Lakes Nordic Ski Foundation switched its Loppet festival events from uptown to Theodore Wirth Park.
The event is scheduled for Feb. 4 and Feb. 5. It is the tenth anniversary of the race.
John Munger, the executive director of the Nordic Ski Foundation, said his organization made the decision to confine the event to Wirth Park last week.
The finish line for the event was planned for Calhoun Square, with the race concentrating on the Chain of Lakes. But a few days with temperatures near 40 degrees forced a change.
“When it got to 38 or 39 degrees on Thursday, that snow drained into the sewer system, those empty into the lakes, affecting the already weak ice,” Munger said.
Munger said he skied out to the Lake of the Isles last Friday, where the event normally begins, and found a pond forming on the frozen ice.
John Thompson, last year’s national skijoring champion, said he’s only been able to ski once with his dogs this year due to the unusually mild weather.
“We have lived in the Twin Cities area for 17 years, and this is the biggest anomaly I have ever seen,” he said.
Munger said all the festivities will go on normally as planned at Wirth Park, which makes artificial snow. Loppet organizers are hauling in snow by the truck load for snow sculpting.
“We kinda feel like it’s the last bastion of winter, the place where you can celebrate winter and the weekend,” Munger said.
He said Wirth Park has a 3.5 kilometer loop of artificial snow. Skiers will do multiple laps to race on the loop Sunday.
For more information on the festivities, races, snow sculpting and tubing, visit the City of Lakes Nordic Ski Foundation website.