Loppet skiers navigate icy, mushy course amid warmer temperatures

This year’s City of Lakes Loppet Winter Festival felt more like a springtime event on Saturday.

"This year is different in a lot of ways for us here in this wild winter that we’re having," said Loppet Foundation Executive Director Claire Wilson.

Ski races that would usually start at Bde Maka Ska were instead moved to Theodore Wirth Park, and the longest race of the day was cut from 40 kilometers to 10 kilometers.

To protect the snow on the ground, officials also made the decision to keep spectators off the course. 

"We miss the spectators, but people understand the need to come together to save the snow," Wilson said.

Wilson says organizers considered postponing the event but ultimately decided not to because it’s unclear how long the snow will survive the warm weather.

"I’m 68 years old, and I’ve never seen a winter like this before," skier Blair Anderson told FOX 9. "It’s been a challenging winter, and it’s a challenging course: icy and mushy, a real balance challenge."

Also, for the second year in a row at Lake of the Isles, the Luminary Loppet was moved off the ice and onto land.

"We moved to land because the ice is not frozen any longer, because of the unprecedented warmth," Wilson finished. "It just isn’t safe to have people on the ice."