With a lack of snow in the 21st century the Lumberjack Classic cross country ski race in Brainerd has suffered.
The event was canceled in 2002 and 2003. It attracted just 30 participants last year when there was little snow until a few days before the race.
Attendance this year should spike upwards thanks to the favorable snow conditions at Northland Arboretum, site of the 2005 event Feb. 6.
"We will have more skiers than last year," race director Josh Duda said. "We've received more registrations this year than we have since I started with the race planning (in 2002).
"I think a lot of it has been actual snow on the ground. That's been a huge deterring factor over the past few years."
Duda said trails are in optimum condition.
"It's more like it was 10 years ago when we were getting snowfalls, than in this century where we haven't been getting snow," he said. "I was talking to (Ron) Long at the arboretum. He has skied in Michigan and on the Birkebeiner course (in Wisconsin). He said our trails are in the best condition he has seen."
The event should also receive a boost from being headquartered in the new arboretum building, where the race will start and finish and where the postrace awards ceremony can now be conducted.
"It will be nice not to go halfway across town for the awards ceremony," Duda said. "Last year it was at Lord of Life Church. A couple years it was at Riverside Elementary, before that it was at the hospital and at the (Pine Meadows) clubhouse. It has find of floated."
The building, located at the head of the Paul Bunyan Trail, was finished in July of 2004. It has approximately 4,600 square feet on its main level. A walkout basement level has another 4,600 unfinished square feet that is waiting to become handicapped accessible.
When: Feb. 6
Registration/bib pickup: 9 a.m. at arboretum building on Conservation Drive in Baxter.
Events: One-kilometer Kiddie Jaunt 10:30 a.m.; classic 6km and 16km mass start events 11 a.m.; freestyle 6km and 16km mass start events noon.
Further information: Visit www.brainerdnordic
skiclub.com/lumberjackjaunt or contact Josh (218) 746-4413.
"It should make for a great race headquarters," Duda said. "There should be plenty of room for registration, our meal and awards ceremony. There also looks to be room to expand in future years when the basement is completed."
Previously, the race started and finished in the arboretum parking lot. The course has now been shifted to start and finish near the building.
"The course will lead skiers near the building multiple times (depending on the race distance)," Duda said. "This should allow for a more spectator-friendly environment.
"Our goal has always been to make this a family event. We now have a nice warm building for those not skiing to retreat to while awaiting their favorite skier."
Mike Bialka can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 855-5861.
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