CALUMET - It's almost time for the Great Bear Chase.
"We're gearing up for a great year," said race director Angela Luskin. "Snow conditions are fantastic."
The annual cross country skiing event includes both classic and freestyle skiing and three race lengths from which to choose: 14, 25 and 50 kilometers. People can sign up as late as Friday, when there will be a last-minute registration and bib pick-up at Calumet High School from 3:30 to 8:30 p.m.
Gazette file photo
A skier is just about to cross the finish line in this photo from last year’s Great Bear Chase in Calumet. The event this year takes places Friday through Saturday. Those interested are allowed to sign up as late as Friday.
The first race starts at 5 p.m. Friday, when the Copper Country Ski Tigers host the Junior Great Bear Chase, where kids under 16 can ski in races ranging from one to four kilometers. Racers are also invited to a spaghetti dinner fundraiser for the C-L-K Rotary Club from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Irish Times.
Saturday's races begin with the 14-kilometer classic, which starts at 8:25 a.m.
"We wanted to attract more recreational skiers who might be trying a first-time race," said Cynthia MacDonald, one of the organizers.
Staggered start times continue until 9:40 a.m., when the last skiers take off for the 25-kilometer freestyle.
A post-race lunch starts at 10 a.m. at the Calumet High School gym, with an awards ceremony being held there after all the races conclude. Saturday wraps up at 7 p.m. with a square dance at the Omphale Caf on Fifth Street.
Taking advantage of one of the snowiest locales in the Midwest, the Great Bear Chase will also host a snow bike race starting at 9:50 a.m. Sunday. There will be two races, a 14-kilometer and a 25-kilometer.
This year, racers can also get free photos of themselves online after the race. This year also introduces a new feature for racers looking to preview the course: a video ski through pegged to the corresponding spot on the map.
"We thought it was cool," MacDonald said. "It's intended not only to promote the Bear Chase race, but a visit to the Swedetown ski trails at any time."
As of Tuesday afternoon, about 285 people had registered, which is a normal amount for that point, Luskin said.
There are also about 20 volunteer slots left. Kuskin said the biggest needs are at the aid stations, registration and parking.
MacDonald encouraged skiers to come out and enjoy a good day of skiing.
"it's the only cross-country ski race in this area this year," she said. "It's been going on for 33 years and it's a great race and a great tradition."
To sign up as a skier or volunteer, go to greatbearchase.com. The site also includes a full schedule and the video race map.