Jean-Émile Paraïso (J-E), a level 2 instructor with HPSC, perhaps broke a club record and cross-country skied in May, a full month after skiing ended in Southern Ontario! He participated in the final WorldLoppet of the season – the Fossavatnsgangan – held in the Westfjords region of Iceland on the first weekend in May. A 25km classic race awaited his arrival…
Unfortunately, warm weather hit the country two weeks before the event, melting part of the race course. Organizers had to slightly shorten the course (to 21km), but they forged ahead. Cross-country skiers are hardy and can handle anything nature throws at them. And that they did on race day.
Conditions, J-E reports, were challenging. A warm +5 degrees Celsius meant soft snow, and the weather just got wilder throughout the race, with hail, freezing rain, sleet, snow, rain and finally brief spot of sunshine. Throw in some strong winds with gusts up to 40km/hr just for fun. No grip going uphill, no glide going downhill….
Despite all this, J-E did fantastic! He completed the 21km course in 1hr 54min and finished 33rd overall (out of 107). He finished 9th in his age category (35-49).
As a reward for finishing such a gruelling race, the event provided a cake buffet in the afternoon and a seafood dinner and dance in the evening.
In addition to the race, J-E said he had a wonderful trip visiting Iceland, meeting other like-minded skiers and is motivated to do it all again at other international events.
A huge congratulations from all of us in the club.
Check out this video if you want a taste of what J-E experienced. You don’t have to go this far to experience some fantastic loppets. A number of club members have completed the Gatineau Loppet (a WorldLopppet event in Gatineau Park), and there are a number of local loppets, such as the Muskoka Loppet (Arrowhead Provincial Park) and the Hardwood Loppet (Hardwood Hills).