Skiing through paradise

Participants in the 2018 Prince Albert Classic Loppet take off from the start line at Little Red River Park on Saturday. -- Jason Kerr/Daily Herald

Things have changed since Scott Fraser last attended the Prince Albert Classic Loppet.

He doesn’t remember much from that first trip, being a mere seven years old, but what he does remember stood out.

“I don’t remember the trails, but I remember it was a really nice loppet,” chuckled Fraser, who came up from Saskatoon for Saturday’s event. “I’m really happy to be back.”

Fraser wasn’t the only one. An estimated 180 cross-country skiers came out for the 2018 classic, a total that hasn’t been seen at Red River Park in roughly 20 years.

Loppet chair Bill Jeffery said great conditions in Prince Albert, combined with less favourable ones in the rest of the province, helped make Saturday’s race a “must-attend event” for local cross-country skiers. A late snowfall on Friday helped bring in dozens more, with ideal conditions settling in by Saturday morning.

“We were wishing for snow, but it could have come a little earlier,” Jeffery said. “Still, the crew got out here last night at around 8 or 9 p.m. and they did the trails…. They’ve set up nice, fresh snow, just what everybody is hoping for, especially skiers from the south, who’ve had lousy conditions.”

Over the last couple of years, good conditions have been the exception rather than the rule. Jeffery said they’ve been forced to cancel some past events due to lack of snow. This year was different, and skiers from across Saskatchewan were eager to take advantage of it.

For the rest of this story, please see the Jan. 31 online or print edition of the Daily Herald.