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This article first appeared in the December 20, 2018 issue of the The Low Down to Hull and Back News.External Link Reprinted with permission. Search complete list of Low Down Articles.

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h3>Loppet: Forty years of skiing history

By Ben Bulmer

It may be heading into middle age, but the Gatineau Loppet is far from having a midlife crisis. The Loppet announced the events for its 40th anniversary on Dec. 14, which include a brand new 51-kilometre freestyle linear race starting at P17 in Wakefield and a 40-km fat bike race from Chelsea to Hautes-Plaines golf course. Loppet organizers are focusing on providing something for everyone over the three-day event Feb. 16 to 18, from racing categories to suit the most novice skiers, to snowshoeing and fat bike races. For the less active, there will be maple taffy on snow, live music, local beer, and plenty of hot chocolate.

Gatineau Loppet president Claude Laramée told the Low Down the event had had a few bad years with attendance dropping in 2015 because of the consistent minus 20-degree weather and fewer than 2,000 participants registering in 2016. Numbers were back up last year - 2,200 participants signed up - and this year, they're hoping for 2,500. "We've got snow, we've got a lot to offer this year and we're very positive," said Laramée. The Loppet has also picked up over 50 sponsors for this year's race.

The Gatineau Loppet is the biggest international cross-country ski event in Canada with participants coming from roughly 20 countries around the globe. Founded in 1979 as the Rivière Rouge and held in Lachute, the event originally had just two races - a 55- and 35-km classic race. The Rivière Rouge moved to Gatineau Park in 1983 and renamed itself the Gatineau 55. In 1989, a 25-km freestyle race was added and in 1996 the name changed again to Keskinada Loppet. The name was formulated from 'Ke' for Quebec, 'ski' for cross country skiing, and 'nada' for Canada. In 2008, there was another name change when the event joined the international Worldloppet circuit and became the Gatineau Loppet.

For more information and to register go to: www.gatineauloppet.com