Roughly 500 students strapped on their skis and hit the trails for Red Deer Public School’s annual Ski Loppet Tuesday afternoon.
The students, who ranged between grade 3 to grade 12, participated in 3km and 5km cross-country ski races at River Bend Recreation Area.
James Wigelsworth, a grade six student at Central Middle School finished second out of his grade and school during today’s 3km race. This is the third year he has entered because he enjoys it so much.
“I started doing these in grade four and it’s always so much fun so I every year I enter and come and do it but it can be challenging like today I hadn’t moved much so it was a lot of movement all at once but I still had so much fun,” said Wigelsworth. “I really like skiing it’s a lot like speed skating and I just love being able to go outside and compete like this during school.
Wigelsworth says it’s all about having fun and he will continue to take part every year.
Diane Roberts, principal of Mountview Elementary School was volunteering at the event and says it has many benefits for the students.
“It’s a great opportunity for students to get involved in active living and outdoor winter sports in Canada because we are Canadian and it also teaches responsibility you know they have to learn how to work as a team and attend practices and that,” she says..
“Students love it because its gives them a chance to show off the skills they practice for months prior and it just gives them a chance to get outside and show off for their parents who come watch them and it’s just a lot of fun.”
Roberts admits the race does present some challenges for special needs students.
“We as teachers try to make sure everyone can participate in the event. Even if they can’t race we try to get them out to cheer the other students on and help out during the race so they can feel included.”
Tuesday’s event can also be dubbed a success thanks to the nice weather, after the event was cancelled the week prior because weather conditions were too extreme.
“Today, the weather is just so nice, you know we’ve had such extreme weather over the past couple of months, so it’s nice to see the sun shining and everyone is just loving it,” beamed Roberts.
The loppet comes on the heels of the 2019 Canada Winter Olympic Games, which held biathlon and cross-country skiing events at River Bend.