What do you do when the average winter temperature is below freezing and the sun only shines few hours per day? You utter words to illicit smiles and get outside, of course. From Norway, the land of elaborately knitted sweaters and mischievous trolls, comes–get ready to chuckle–Barnelopet (pronouced “BARN-uh-LOH-pit”), a winter ski race just for the wee ones. The funny word makes me think of farm animals loping toward the barn to get the heck out of the cold in a Jan Brett picture book, and maybe that’s exactly where it comes from. It’s Norwegian for “kids race.”
Barnelopet is a worldwide phenomenon traditionally hosted by chapters of the Sons of Norway. Our local chapter has hosted the race for many years, and this year Odin Recreation resurrects Barnelopet as one of many races in the First Annual Winter Sports Festival this weekend. Sons of Norway is donating the prizes. As residents of the world’s longest flat-topped mountain, with the perfect combination of elevation, climate and terrain to produce world-class Nordic skiing, we think our munchkins-on-skis deserve Barnelopet as part of their cultural heritage. It’s a chance for kids to dream about professional ski racing, like our own two-time Junior National Champion Hailey Swirbul used to do. Mostly, it’s just plain fun.
The race will be gentle, yet engaging with divisions for boys and girls. Your small registration of just $10 goes directly to the Grand Valley Nordic Ski Club, providing ski lessons for kids every weekend all winter long. Hurry and register TODAY. Deadline is Friday and then, Barnelopet is fast away until next year.