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SportsRecreationSkiingSnowshoeing19TuesdayMarch52013LoveLorellandAlexGauthierKennEdkinsJaniceEdkinsandallyourgrandchildrenandgreat-grandchildrenHappy80thBirthdayStanEdkinsMarch52013ByRENEFRANCOEURItwasntjustskierspinningontheirnumberedpaperbibsSaturdayastheannualcross-countryThebachaloppetgotunderway.Forthersttimeintheclassiceventshistorysnow-shoerscouldalsojoininfromtheHalfwaycheckpoint10.1kmorMountainPortage5kmonthe27.5kmtrailfromFortFitzgeraldtoFortSmith.Itseemedtogowell.Ihaventheardanycomplaintssowewilllikelyopentheentiretrailupnextseasontosnowshoersloppetor-ganizerPatti-KayHamil-tonsaid.Theskiingeventalsosawoneofitslargestturnoutstodatewith106registeredpar-ticipants25ofwhomsnow-shoed.TheyhailedfromalloverincludingEdmontonFortSaskatchewanFortMcMurrayYellowknifeandHayRiver.TheNeyfamilyPatrickKateandtheirthreesonsmovedtoFortSmithlastFridayanddecidedtojoinintheloppet24hoursaftermoving.Hamiltonfoundskiequipmentforthemtobor-rowastheyhadlefttheirsathomeonVancouverIsland.Werejustlookingfor-wardtomeetingpeopleandwelovetheoutdoorssowethoughtwhynotjumprightinKatesaid.TheNeysbroughtthetotalparticipationnumberuptoarecord111.Intheearly70swhenmostofthenationalskiteamwastraininginInuviktherewerelargeloppetnumberstooaccordingtoJacquesVanPeltoneofthefound-ersbutnotforaverylongtimeHamiltonsaid.Thirtyofthe86skierswereunder12years-oldthisyearHamiltonadded-asignofastronggroupofupcomingcross-countryskiers.ForFinnalyRutherford-Simon8itwasthesecondyearcrossingtheloppetn-ishline.Itsfunbecauseyougettoskiandbeoutsidewithev-eryoneRutherford-Simonwhohasbeenskiingforfouryearssaid.The2013loppetcelebratedthereopeningofthetrailThebachaLoppetincludessnowshoersforrsttimeAnnualskiingeventseesoneofitslargestturnoutsaroundtheCassetterap-idsthisseasonbySmithsLandingFirstNation.Ac-cordingtoHamiltonmanypeopledidthis3.5kmloopandthendrovetoanothertrailheadtoaddafewmorekilometres.DeannaLeonard34andAaronSpitzer40bothofYellowknifeewintoFortSmithfortheloppetstraightfromWisconsinwheretheyparticipatedinthe88kmAmericanBirkebeineronFeb.23.WejustlovetoskiandwedheardabouttheTheba-chaloppetfromfriendsbe-causeitsatrailwithsuchahistoricalaspectbeingusedasanoldportagerouteLeonardsaidaftercomplet-ingtheloppetforthersttimeinabout2.5hours.ThetrailbetweenSmithandFitzhasbeenusedbyAboriginalpeoplesforthou-sandsofyearslaterbecom-ingaportageroutefortrad-ing.ItwasalsousedbysomeoftherstNorthernexplorersincludingSirJohnFranklinAlexanderMackenzieandSamuelHearne.Nextyearmarkstheloppets40thanniversary.Althoughitformallystartedin1972thereweretwoyearswhenitwascancelledduetobadweather.Organizersarealreadybrainstormingaboutaweek-end-longcelebrationandextendingthelastlegoftheloppetpasttheNordicCentrealongtheriverbankandintotownendingatthearenaforapartyHamiltonsaid.OntheSundaywedholdakidsfunskiontheCassetteLoopwithclownsascheck-pointofcialsballoonsinthetreeshiddentreatsontherouteandendwithabonreandwie-nerroast.AfterlunchtheredbeaskijoringtourwithdogspullingskiersonthestretchfromHalfwaytoMountainshetoldTheJournal.AccordingtoHamiltontheloppetteamalsohaslong-termgoalstoworkwithSmithsLandingFirstNationtodosomeextensivetraildevelop-mentthatwouldincludebridgesacrosssomeoftheravinesandwidenthetrailtoallowfortwotracksandsnowshoers.PhotosReneFrancoeurandPaulBannisterArecordgroupofover100loppetersgetsreadytobustoFortFitzgeraldtobeginthe27.4kmtrek.DallasPhillipsgivesathumbsupwith5kmlefttogoonsnowshoe.WesternArcticMPDennisBevingtonglidesdownahillduringthelastlength.ThreehoursintotheloppetTaylorPhillips19cruisesalongtheSlaveRiver.Acoupleyoungsterscoastthroughthewoods.Manyofthecrosscountryskierswereundertheageof12forthe2013loppet.