Pirates take to the hills

A sea of eye-patched and mustachioed pirates descended on the Larch Hills on Friday, January 27

Participants at the Pirate Loppet set out on the trails.

Participants at the Pirate Loppet set out on the trails.

A sea of eye-patched and mustachioed pirates descended on the Larch Hills on Friday, January 27 for the 13th annual Children’s Pirate Ski Loppet.

With skill and boisterous energy, 410 pirates in Grades 1 through 8 enjoyed the ideal -2C temperature and “walked their planks” over 5 km of the Larch Hills. Sixteen different schools from Armstrong to Revelstoke and Enderby to Sorrento were represented, with South Broadview Elementary receiving recognition for their high participation numbers.

The Pirate Loppet has grown to be much more than a one-day event. Throughout January, teachers and 40 local ski club volunteers introduced students to cross-country skiing at Larch Hills and were repaid with the common refrain, “This is really fun.”

The students’ weeks of practice culminated in celebrating their new skills in the Pirate Loppet, a non-competitive and unique experience thought to be the largest children’s ski event in the province. The intent is to encourage skiing as a fun, active and social experience and an opportunity to appreciate the natural environment. The camaraderie of the day was exemplified by the shared laughter and celebration of each finisher with an outburst of cheering and the promise of a hot lunch.

Community support was shown by School District #83 Superintendent, Glen Borthistle, who skied with the students, the Shuswap Lady Striders, who prepared lunch, the tri-corned registrars and scarred course marshals who directed, encouraged and entertained the skiers. Local businesses and organizations also donated their time, equipment, money and draw prizes. Event announcer, Cap’n Tom, fostered the jovial atmosphere with his pirate lingo and jokes.

Since 2011, over $20,000 has been raised and donated back to local schools to assist them in the purchase of x-country ski equipment. This includes grants received from the Shuswap Community Foundation and Askew’s Foods.