The third group of skiers leaving the starting line during the 2019 Pirate Loppet at Larch Hills. (Jodi Brak/Salmon Arm Observer)

The third group of skiers leaving the starting line during the 2019 Pirate Loppet at Larch Hills. (Jodi Brak/Salmon Arm Observer)

Pirate Loppet takes to the trails at Larch Hills

Elementary students in the Shuswap enjoy a fun day of cross-country competition

A few hundred young pirates took a wrong turn at the coast and wound up in the Larch Hills Feb. 1, just in time for the 2019 Elementary Schools Pirate Loppet.

The eager young sea-dogs took to the trails in force, completing 1-5km ski courses in several large waves. The ringing of bells, shouts of happy young skiers and excited conversation of the parents and chaperones provided a warming backdrop to an otherwise cool, grey morning.

Related: A drone’s-eye view of the Pirate Loppet

The annual event brings together students from schools across School District 83 and as far away as Revelstoke for a day on the ski trails in the Larch Hills. Youth and adults alike were encouraged to dress up in their best pirate regalia for the event, and many pirate hats, parrots, peg-legs, beards and eye-patches could be seen gliding along the trails throughout the morning.

Aside from being a fun excuse to hit the ski trails, the event is also a fundraiser of sorts for the Skis for Schools program, raising money that is donated to schools in the district to help acquire ski equipment for their programs. As of 2018, the event had donated a total of $23,700 to various schools in the district.

Related: Reino Keski-Salmi Loppet supports charity, competition and community

Prizes were also given out during the event, ranging from water bottles to toques and gloves and pirate paraphernalia. The school with the highest participation in comparison to their total student population was also recognized with an award, and in 2019 it went to Silver Creek Elementary which had 20 out of a total 23 students participate in the Pirate Loppet.

 

Marcia Beckner (centre) directs skiers along the proper trail during the 2019 Elementary Schools Pirate Loppet. (Jodi Brak/Salmon Arm Observer)

Marcia Beckner (centre) directs skiers along the proper trail during the 2019 Elementary Schools Pirate Loppet. (Jodi Brak/Salmon Arm Observer)

A group of skiers, led by a few parent chaperones, rounds the final corner of the first 1km lap during the 2019 Pirate Loppet. (Jodi Brak/Salmon Arm Observer)

A group of skiers, led by a few parent chaperones, rounds the final corner of the first 1km lap during the 2019 Pirate Loppet. (Jodi Brak/Salmon Arm Observer)

A large group of young pirates ascend one of the last hills of the 2km course during the 2019 Pirate Loppet, looking ahead to the finish line which is just up the slope. (Jodi Brak/Salmon Arm Observer)

A large group of young pirates ascend one of the last hills of the 2km course during the 2019 Pirate Loppet, looking ahead to the finish line which is just up the slope. (Jodi Brak/Salmon Arm Observer)

Mike Brown of the Salmon Arm Fish and Game Club fires off the starting cannon, signalling the first group of skiers to launch off the starting line during the 2019 Pirate Loppet. (Jodi Brak/Salmon Arm Observer)

Mike Brown of the Salmon Arm Fish and Game Club fires off the starting cannon, signalling the first group of skiers to launch off the starting line during the 2019 Pirate Loppet. (Jodi Brak/Salmon Arm Observer)

The fourth group of skiers kicks off their portion of the 2019 Pirate Loppet at the Larch Hills. (Jodi Brak/Salmon Arm Observer)

The fourth group of skiers kicks off their portion of the 2019 Pirate Loppet at the Larch Hills. (Jodi Brak/Salmon Arm Observer)

A group of eager young pirates on skis line up in the starting zone, getting ready to launch onto the trails for the 2019 Pirate Loppet at Larch Hills. (Jodi Brak/Salmon Arm Observer)

A group of eager young pirates on skis line up in the starting zone, getting ready to launch onto the trails for the 2019 Pirate Loppet at Larch Hills. (Jodi Brak/Salmon Arm Observer)