Lake Louise to Banff loppet hi-lites

by Bob Truman on January 20, 2019

in Ski Race

Post image for Lake Louise to Banff loppet hi-lites

Ahoy, Jessica! Castle Lookout to Castle Junction was double trackset. 

An additional 90 photos are posted here More Loppet Photos. These are mostly participants who were on Leg 3 between Castle Lookout and Castle Junction. 

Congratulations to Jon Arne Enevoldsen, fastest skier with a time of 2:56:37. Karen Messenger was the fastest female at 3:34:45. Fastest team was Mr and Mrs Smith at 3:21:04. Full Results.  

I didn’t participate in the loppet as a racer but I took hundreds of photos today. I’m posting a few of the hi-lites on this update but I also have dozens of photos of individual skiers which I will post at a later date.

A skier arrives at Castle Junction

I arrived at Castle Junction around 11:30 a.m. CJ is the 36K point of the 50K race. A few of the faster skiers had already been through. The air temperature was -7, the sun was shining and not a breath of wind. Beautiful blue wax weather. 

Castle Junction road crossing. Thanks to all the volunteers!

The nice weather is especially helpful for all the volunteers who are out on the course. Nobody had to freeze this year. 

I had planned to set up camp at Castle Junction and snap photos as skiers came through, but once I saw the good tracksetting, I couldn’t resist. I put on my boots and grabbed my skis and set off towards Castle Lookout. 

Leg 3 between Castle Junction and Castle Lookout.

I skied the 5K to Castle Lookout, taking photos of most of the skiers. A few were too fast and I couldn’t get my camera out in time! I had a delicious brownie at Castle Lookout, talked a bit with Jo Lunn, and headed back.

A few bumps on the downhill

I’ve skied the third leg of the loppet three times but you get a whole new perspective when you’re not racing. There’s time to look around, notice the surroundings and, as Helen says, take your eyes off the tracks. 

Leg 3 between Castle Junction and Johnston Canyon(approx 40K)

My first surprise was seeing the trail double-trackset for almost the entire 5K distance. I can only remember single tracksetting from back in the day. The 8K portion of Leg 3 which is between Castle Junction and Johnston Canyon was single trackset. 

Staggering to the finish line at Sawback(50K)

The 3-4 cm of snow which fell in the past four days improved the trails to what I would call “normal loppet conditions.” There was a bit of debris in the treed section, and some bumps and twigs but it was better than I was expecting. 

Driving along Leg 4 on the Bow Valley Parkway, the snow looked much better than four days ago when I posted some photos of the gnarly conditions. There was still a little dirt mixed into the snow on the berm, but it was appreciably better than before the snowfall. 

Team “Fake News” at the finish line.

The steep downhills in the trees were manageable. Pretty much as I remembered them. 

The best thing I heard all day was from a skier I met who didn’t realize what I was doing. Keep in mind I’m going against the flow. With a concerned look on her face, she warned, “there are a lot of skiers coming.”

Castle Mountain was on fire

Some skiers were grimacing, some were smiling, and Dave Mathews was so relaxed that he actually stopped to talk for a while. 

I also took a few pictures at other locations and at the finish line. Even though I wasn’t racing, it was a very enjoyable day. 

It would be interesting to hear impressions from anyone who was doing the loppet for the first time. Did it meet your expectations? 

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

1 JeremyN January 22, 2019 at 9:23 am

Great coverage Bob! Thanks. Wasn’t able to participate this year myself but thoroughly enjoyed the trackset route from Morant’s to Sawback during my “before-the-loppet” ski last Saturday. Met & chatted with a few cheery volunteers hard at work as well as the Baker Creek grooming team doing a fantastic job as usual. Thanks All. Looking fwd to next year!

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2 Gavin Murphy January 21, 2019 at 9:25 pm

Hey Bob,
This was a first for my wife and I, first ever xc ‘race’ in fact. And boy what an experience! The going was tough heading out for Leg 3, and though we’ve never met you before in person, it was great inspiration to see you out there on the trail cheering everyone on. As newbies to this kind of endeavor, we were blown away by the great energy of everyone involved, both racers and the selfless volunteers throughout the course. It was humbling to meet these cheery folks at lonely road crossings giving us lots of encouragement and plenty of cowbell. Such a well organized event in the beauty of the Rockies. It was a day we won’t forget in a hurry! We might want to work on our double poling technique for the next one 😉 Cheers and thanks for all the great photos!

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3 Tim January 21, 2019 at 8:48 pm

Bob
I met you at the finish, along with my two dogs Bonn and Tasky. Thanks so much for taking the time to chat. Lovely to meet you at last. My first loppet. My first ever ski race. Im a runner and the running sections just made me smile. Fab event, loved it all even the last 6.7k section which was not really my definition of skiing. I’ll do it again for sure. Kudos to everyone involved. Will try to work out how I can help out for the event next year. Pretty special day for sure – I mean how many people get to start a race at a full blown Chateau and then drive to Banff for the presentations, only to see another full blown Chateau! Loved it all.

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4 Roberta January 21, 2019 at 2:28 pm

Awesome Loppet! Great weather and pretty darn good conditions! Shout out to the organizers!!!!

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5 Evelyn Russell January 21, 2019 at 2:15 pm

An awesome loppet!! Such beautiful country to ski in- thank you so much to all the volunteers for a great day! And that last leg going downhill on the split—so much better!

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6 Ryan January 21, 2019 at 10:23 am

My second time doing it as a two person relay. Its such a fun race, always look at as more of an adventure race too. I hope it continues, so few opportunities to race with friends as a team in the loppet world. Big thanks to the organizers!

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7 GordN January 20, 2019 at 10:42 pm

I recall getting the same “concerned “ look and comment one year. Insinuating that I should “get the hell of the public trails” during the race.

I laugh about it now.

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8 Greg January 20, 2019 at 9:46 pm

My second time. I managed to do the last edition that went right to Banff in 2013.
I see this loppet more as an adventure on skis than a “race”.
The revamped Morants Curve meant a LONG time on the road!
There was a lot of roots and trees and branches on the last 20km… definitely not for your best skis.
I hope the race continues… would be a shame to see it disappear.

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9 Greg January 21, 2019 at 11:34 am

My bad, I see 2016 it went the full distance! I sure missed the finish on the Bow River in Banff!

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