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Kids’ Nordic ski race in Hancock offers fun for all

HOUGHTON – A few hours before kickoff on Super Bowl Sunday, about 60 Upper Peninsula children had their own competition.

The ninth annual Barnelopet took place at the Maasto Hiihto ski trails in Hancock. The name comes from a combination of the Norwegian words for “children” and “race.”

The Norwegian influence comes from the local Ulseth chapter of the Sons of Norway, one of the sponsors of the event, along with the city of Hancock and the Keweenaw Nordic Ski Club.

“It’s an opportunity to show off the beautiful trails we have in Hancock, Maasto Hiihto and Churning Rapids, although the race is only on the Maasto Hiihto part,” said organizer Wayne Stordahl. “From the Keweenaw Nordic Ski Club point of view, we’re trying to promote the healthy activity of cross country skiing.”

About 60 children showed up for Sunday’s races of 1, 2, 4 or 6 kilometers. When you add in the parents or other adults accompanying them, the total was more like 80, Stordahl said.

“The youngsters like it because of the meal they get for participating,” he said. “The older kids like it because it’s another opportunity to compete against each other. We look at it as another opportunity to get the kids out of the house, into some fresh air, and maybe some sunshine.”

One of the last across the finish line was Mayona Maggio, 2, who was skiing with the help of her father, Jarod.

“We wanted to get her on skis early, and we thought it would be fun to do it with a big group of kids,” he said. “Seeing the others kind of motivated her.”

Steven Voelker of Laurium, 7, was participating in his second Barnelopet with his parents, Paul and Madeline.

His dad joked that he came for the hot chocolate. His mom appreciated the “beautiful trails” and the affordable registration fees.

And Steven?

“I like going down hills,” he said.