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Nordic skiers take to the trails of Essex Park for new winter competition

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Skiers at start of Loopy Loppet race

ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) - The Loopy Loppet, a 5.8 kilometer route for skiers to enjoy on a Saturday morning.

"A lot of these people are doing what you call freestyle or skate skiing which is almost more of a smooth, dancing motion. It's very fast and a great lifelong sport," said event coordinator Michael Trantow.

Others preferred the classic style such as the Rochester Nordic Ski Team, which has grown in its 20 years of existence. Around 125 kids from 7th to 12th grade make up the team. It allows kids of all abilities to practice 3 times of week.

"It was a lot of falling over and getting back up," said youth skier Madeline Perry. "After you do it for so long, you get the hang of it and it's a lot more fun."

Some get the hang of it quickly, such as the youth race winner.

"I've been skiing for one year. I like being outdoors and having fun," said Anna Peikert.

Even the adult race winner, who competed collegiately, says it's mostly about having fun.

"I come here early in the morning. I've seen an owl a couple of times this winter so that's part of it," said Chris Ziegler, who competed at the University of Vermont. "I just really love the atmosphere and fresh air. I've kept up with it since middle school and it's a big part of my life."

Ziegler recently moved to Rochester and has been pleased with the skiing opportunies in the Med City.

"There's a lot of volunteers that groom all the trails. It's really impressive the community effort I've seen here. It's different than anywhere I've been," said the Detroit Lakes native.

But today's race was just as much about tradition as competiton. The Birkie Warriors recreate a Nordic tradition.

"So there's two warriors with wooden shields and skiis. They are supposedly saving the young Prince Haakon," explained Trantow.

No matter your reason for strapping on the skis, there's plenty of trails and snow for everyone.

"Most people want the snow to go away. We want lots of it," said Rochester Nordic Ski Team coach David Herbert.

Both Herbert and Trantow suggest those who want to get into skiing should head to Quarry Hill Nature Center. It has trails that are groomed daily and skis available to rent.

Alex Tejada

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