Students brave cold for ski race

The 35k race through Minneapolis attracted several Nordic Ski Club members.

Amber Schadewald

While fancy skirts and ruffles are hot on the catwalks of New York Fashion Week, layers, layers and more layers were in fashion among shivering students around campus this weekend.

Temperature highs below zero and spine-shattering wind chill advisories are what brought child psychology senior Megan Tamble to invite friends to her house Friday for a night of Super Nintendo.

“This weather sucks,” she said. “It hurts to be outside.”

But not everyone curled up indoors. The fifth annual Twin Cities Loppet, an urban cross-country ski race through Minneapolis, continued to attract crowds and athletes Saturday and Sunday.

Members of the University Nordic Ski Club were among the nearly 1,800 event participants.

James Bischoff, first-year pharmacy student and Nordic Ski Club member, said skiers like himself are a “rare breed” – willing to face the chills for the sport.

“It’s all about dressing warmly,” he said. “Once you get moving, it’s really not so bad.”

He and other club members met Saturday evening at the race headquarters in Uptown to register and pick up extra wind pants and facemasks.

Nordic Ski Club president and kinesiology senior Meleah Murphy said club members sometimes put Vaseline on their faces in order to keep the skin from freezing.

About 20 University club members planned to race Sunday in the official 35K City of Lakes Loppet, roughly an hour-and-a-half to two-hour trail.

When asked if they felt prepared, both Murphy and Bischoff laughed with nervous smiles.

“I don’t know if you’re ever prepared for this cold,” Bischoff said.

The race began at Theodore Wirth Golf Course, winding through parks, neighborhoods and across the chain of lakes, until it finished behind the Walker Library just off Hennepin Avenue.

Anders Haugen, a professional skier on the SuperTour Circuit, has been racing around Canada, and now the Midwest, since November. He said he enjoys the uniqueness of the Loppet course – most cross-country ski trails are far from city streets and skyscrapers.

The community and spectator support at the City of Lakes Loppet is unique too, he said; the city really “embraces ski culture.”

Rick Budde, registration director for the Loppet, agreed with Haugen, noting the 600 volunteers dedicated to making the event happen.

With only a mere three inches of snow on the trails, Budde said volunteers continually showed up prior to the race with shovels, bringing snow from nearby lakes and ditches.

“Beyond practice and staying in good shape, there’s a lot of dedication to be in this sport,” he said. “And people are so anxious for a race like this, they’re willing to put in extra work.”

Although Tamble said she enjoys winter activities, when the weather is this cold she calls it “a little extreme.”

“Props to the people who can do it,” she said.