Lack of snow could mean new location for City of Lakes Loppet

Thousands of luminaries are set up to mark the course on Lake of the Isles in Minneapolis, Minn., for the Luminary Loppet.
Gina Reis / MPR News 2011

As the East Coast braces for a record-setting winter storm, the ground in the Twin Cities is almost bare, with warmer than usual temperatures expected to continue for most of the week.

The warm weather worries organizers of the City of Lakes Loppet Ski Festival, who are preparing for the prospect that there won't be enough snow to hold the race on its planned route this weekend.

The cross-country ski festival is scheduled to from Jan. 30 to Feb. 1 — with a number of events spread across the weekend, including a 26.2-mile race and nighttime luminary loppet. The race usually begins in Theodore Wirth Park and ends near Lake Calhoun.

Operations director Mike Erickson said cancellation isn't an option. Organizers are weighing whether to confine events to Minneapolis' Chain of Lakes or relocate to an artificial snow route in Theodore Wirth Park, a step they also took in 2012.

"The ski trails don't have enough snow on them to run a quality race, and after the next couple days there will be a lot less," Erickson said. It would take 3 to 4 inches, he said, to allow the race to happen along its planned route.

Organizers will decide tonight or tomorrow where they'll hold the race.

This marks the 13th year for the Loppet in Minneapolis. Organizers expect more than 10,000 people to participate in the marathon race and nighttime luminary loppet combined.

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