Loubet spreads snow blankets to save the World Cup

Loubet spreads snow blankets to save the World Cup

MINNEAPOLIS — In just 10 days, the Loppet Cup will bring tens of thousands of spectators to Theodor Wirth Park in Minneapolis, to watch the world’s best cross-country skiers, including Minnesota’s Jesse Diggins, compete in a World Cup cross-country event.

But for all of that to happen, organizers have to save the track from Mother Nature.

“It’s just going to be a race against time,” said Claire Wilson, executive director of the Lobet Foundation, an organization that has spent years preparing to host the event.

On Wednesday, Lopit Stadium closed Theodor Wirth Park to skating and other winter activities in hopes of buying more time for a playground that is quickly melting due to record temperatures.

In the morning, teams of volunteers fanned out across the trail on sleds to remove dirt and debris that might cause the snow to melt faster.

“We’re trying to protect the snow from the rain and warm weather for the next few days,” said Scotty Scott, one of the volunteers who came to help.

“We also dug small ditches so some of the water could flow off the tracks instead of pooling on the road,” said Mary McKelvey, another volunteer.

Another group spent the morning sledding — and spreading — large blankets on loan from Mortenson Construction. Although the blankets are designed to insulate fresh cement, they hope they will also help prevent melting snow.

“This was not part of the plan, but we just have to take the necessary precautions,” said Piotr Bednarski, team principal of Lopit Nordique Racing.

The extra precaution comes in response to expectations that may not leave much time to utilize Loppet’s many ice machines on standby.

Claire Wilson: “Our plan is that as soon as the temperatures drop — hopefully Friday — the snow cannons will be used and we will make as much snow as we can, as quickly as we can to fortify the thin sections of the trail. It has been painful to watch the trail continue to deteriorate, and we are losing the trail.”

Kent Erdal: “When was the last time you were able to make ice? Do you remember?”

Wilson: “It’s been weeks since we’ve been able to make snow.”

That’s why snow transport has also become part of the preparations.

Highland Hills Ski Jumps in Bloomington delivered the first of several scheduled truck loads Tuesday, and with more on the way, Wilson says the course will come together one way or another.

“I want everyone to remember what this looks like, because next weekend, it will be a beautiful ski run where the best athletes in the world will be flying,” she said. “I guarantee it will be the most magical place to spend your next weekend.”

She says it will all be thanks to a lot of helping hands and skiers.

“The entire community across the country — from everyone in Minnesota and Minneapolis to all across the country — is rallying around this event,” Wilson said. “Obviously I’m tired. But I feel very energized by all the love pouring in for this organization and this event.”

For more information about the Loppet Cup, click here.

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