After three years of pandemic hiatus, the Val and Ivor Hedman Centaloppet will be back this weekend at the Flin Flon Ski Club.
Flin Flon’s biggest and most entertaining skiing event will return for its 48th edition March 5, with mild temperatures in the forecast and organizers hoping for their biggest crowd in recent years.
The last Centaloppet included 84 skiers, a higher mark than in recent years but far below the club’s participant numbers in the 1980s. The event hasn’t had more than a hundred skiers on the trails in years - Dave Price, a longtime volunteer with the club, has hoped to see the number of skiers back up over the century mark for many years and thinks this might be the year.
“We’ve seen a huge increase in the number of skiers out along our trails – this could be the first year that we get 100+ participants since way back in the 1980s,” he said.
The event starts with a mass start on the swamp area near the club’s chalet, located south of Centoba Park - 2 p.m. sharp. Skiers will make their way around the club’s trails, mostly based on the existing Valley Loop. In total, the event stretches for about 3.4 kilometres through the woods near the club’s chalet. Admission to the event is free.
Honours are given out to winners in several categories - to both the youngest and oldest skier, to the biggest smile, to the most tearful finish or the best dressed participant, one of the stiffer categories to win in recent years.
The main honour of the lot is the Centaloppet Cup. Unlike a typical ski race, the winner of the cup is not just the first person across the line. The cup is awarded to the highest finisher according to a complicated points system that takes into account each skiers’ age, gender, overall time and other factors. A spreadsheet is required to figure out the champion - the last Centaloppet cup winner, Matthew Unrau, was five years old when he won.
“While this event is not a competition, there are always folk who like to go a little bit faster than the next guy. These are the ones who’d like to see their names on the prestigious Centaloppet Cup. An ingenious handicapping formula means that the Cup can go to anyone from sub-teen to retiree,” Price said.