Barnelopet encourages Copper Country kids to get out and ski

 Kids hit the trails in a recent Barnelopet, meaning “children’s race” in Norwegian, event on Hancock’s Maasto Hiihto trails.

Kids hit the trails in a recent Barnelopet, meaning “children’s race” in Norwegian, event on Hancock’s Maasto Hiihto trails.

The Keweenaw’s kids will hit the trails February 7 as part of the 9th annual Barnelopet in Hancock.

Meaning, “children’s race” in Norwegian, the Barnelopet is a classic cross country ski race always held the second Sunday in February to encourage kids to enjoy all that winter has to offer on Hancock’s Massto Hiihto trail network.

The day includes four different length events, all of which are non-competitive.

Registration for children from 3 to 17 takes place from 1 to 1:45 p.m. at the Four Seasons Chalet trailhead located at the Houghton County fairgrounds the day of the event. Staggered start times begin at 2 p.m. for each of the six, four, three and one kilometer events.

A suggested donation of $3 per child or $5 per family to help defray the costs of the event is welcome.

Event coordinator Wayne Stordahl said the youngest kids are usually excited for the event, knowing they’ll get a cup of steaming hot chocolate, cookies and a medal to commemorate their achievement after the races are over.

“They’re excited to finish the race and get their medal,” Stordahl said. “The older kids are more into it for the skiing against one another. We do have people that keep track of the time that they’re on the trail, but we don’t make a big deal of it, in as much as it’s a non-competitive race.”

As Stordahl pointed out, the day’s slogan is “ski for time or take your time.”

The event also encourages parents to get out and ski with their kids, if they may be unsteady on their skis, or too nervous to go out alone.

Storhdal was instrumental in the event’s beginnings, bringing all three sponsoring organizations—Keweenaw Nordic Ski Club, City of Hancock and the Sons of Norway—together to make it happen. It was helpful that Storhdal was a part of the ski club and Sons of Norway, as well as a Hancock resident.

“We wanted to promote the trail, from the Keweenaw Ski Club point of view,” Stordahl said. “We have this wonderful striding trail and it wasn’t being utilized as much as it could be. We wanted to promote the use of the trail and the beauty of the country it goes through.”

The Maasto Hiihto Trail is a striding-only trail system that provides kilometers of skiing on varied and scenic trails. The trail system also connects with the Churning Rapids trails, with the two systems combined, containing roughly 25 kilometers of groomed trails.

Snowshoeing is allowed on the trails, with many single-track trails to follow. Snowshoers can also walk alongside of the ski trails, as long as snowshoes do not step on set ski tracks.

Stordahl said experienced skiers can utilize the sections of the trail that descend into the Swedetown Gorge and ski along the Swedetown Creek for a few kilometers, offering skiiers beautiful views.

“It’s quite scenic,” Stordahl said. “The rest of the trail is in northern hardwoods; it’s pretty unique in that regard too.”


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