The storage wax still has to be scraped off many skis, but registrations for the third running of the Sigge’s Payakentsut at Whistler Olympic Park (WOP) on Feb. 23, 2013 are coming on strong.
“We opened up registration the day after the 2012 race, and we already have 25 per cent of last year’s total registered,” said event chair Dirk Rohde. “We are really excited about that. It’s amazing given the tendency to wait for the weather before committing that we see here in B.C.”
The first 500 registrants in the loppet events will receive a custom Buff designed for the Sigge’s Payak. Event organizers are shooting for 1,000 participants in the loppet and children and youth events as a firm target for the free-technique loppet.
New this year will be cash prizes for the top three finishers, male and female, in the 30- and 50-kilometre distances. The cash prime (pronounced preem) event is also popular with the elite racers, who give it their all on the second lap’s climb out of the stadium. The prime will be presented by Fischer in 2013.
Announcer Steve King will be returning to keep track of the flow of racers and news at the loppet.
The Sigge’s Payak is already the largest cross-country event in B.C., with 600 participants in 2012, and is the most highly prized race of its kind in Canada.
“We are receiving phenomenal support from the ski industry sponsors like Salomon and Fischer, as well as from the local business community,” Rohde said.
He believes there is a great synergy with the new racing venue at WOP, the popularity of skate skiing in B.C. and the recognition of skate skiing as a cross-training workout among cyclists and even downhill skiers. Like all loppets, the focus at the Sigge’s Payak is fun for all levels and abilities — the race is meant to be welcoming to all levels, with the route largely on the recreational trail system that offers panoramic views of Black Tusk and the Callaghan Valley.
That is evidenced by the presence of four Olympians in the 2012 field. But don’t fear — they were cyclists and rowers. In addition to entries from B.C. and Alberta, the Sigge’s Payak drew participants from Quebec, Newfoundland, Vermont, Oregon, Washington and Ontario.
Last year’s race saw 450 participants hit the trails, with Colin Abbot winning the 50 km race, followed closely by Squamish’s Neal Kindree.
Go to www.payak.ca for more information about the event or check out the Twitter feed, @Payakentsut.