Reflections on 50 World Loppet Races

Reflections on 50 World Loppet Cross Country  Ski Races…..at last!
By John Miller

Completing my 50 th World Loppet event at Obertilliac recently brought many emotions to the fore…exhaustion,exhilaration,gratitude and some profound relief,as there had been some unexpected delays along the way- in arriving at this goal. And my speed has diminished markedly in the last year… since Bronchial frostbite in Germany early last northern winter..with times reducing by about 30%…

Internationally it all started in Canada in 1993…… so its been a long journey of 20 years.
When one inevitably hits the wall as is the case with my low levels of skill and now fitness..my early and now departed buddies from the Wangaratta Ski Club…Peter Bailey, Norm Allen, Graham Welsh,and Bruce Osborn..appear before me and start pulling me along to the finish..with words of encouragement and sometimes understandably…abuse!
The World  Loppet and its events now in 16 countries is a wonderful concept…and as the Austrians say..”One only competes against oneself ” It’s thus great to be involved in a sport where at my level , participation is the key and completion…. rather than winning…. the emphasis.

Membership of the London Region Nordic Ski Club has been essential to my recent involvement and the completion of events in Czech Republic, Poland and Obertilliac, where Paddy and Hilary drove me all the way from our most successful excursion in Bessans was so appreciated.

As a young graduate working at the  Wangaratta Woollen Mills joining the local ski club with its great lodge in the Mt Hotham alpine reserve, was the beginning for me. WSC has always encouraged ski touring and has had several Olympians in our XC discipline.The support of Ruth has been essential and is much appreciated  and although she is one who feels the cold, she has accompanied me to Italy,Switzerland,Finland,Estonia,Canada and on several occasions Japan…and recently Bessans.

I prefer the events that start and finish at the same point  and  dislike very much those requiring an early start and standing around in the cold at commencement..thus to those in the know…. Japan,Czech,Finland the Kangaroo Hoppet ,Canada and Obertilliac were my favourite locations …and my  favourite  races are thus …..The Hoppet, Canada, Sapporo, Czech, Lahti and Passo Lavazza classic in Italy. Of course venues that reward travellers with more than one event are for practical reasons well attended. For a social skier such as myself one of the other attractions is the quality of local  treats..coffee, cakes, and even the beer..and the opportunity to cross borders  for a relaxing day trip to sample such pleasures.

But the overriding feeling on becoming a Global World Loppet Skier and now  a  five times  master is gratitude to the  friends I have made in this extraordinary journey..from Canada -Robert Palliser, Peter and Marg Macleod, from the US  Bengt and Kathryn Karlsson and Paul Reznick, in France Hannes Larsson and his brother Einar from Finland, Poland..  Piotr and Jacek… and in the UK Paddy and Hilary Field, Judy and Alan,and Alan and Margaret and Peter and Julie. Jeanine saved my life by suggesting that even tough Aussies need a face mask when it’s minus 15 and with a biting head wind!  In Japan Akira and Yumi Komori and Minoru and family were wonderful homestay hosts.

It has been our pleasure to be able to occasionally  reciprocate such hospitality .

I am now no longer in the game of collecting passport stamps..my recent times  have been  quite poor..and I want to enjoy new challenges..to skate, I have new boots and skis .. with many trips with London Region Nordic mates  in mind … and may in due course join a friend on a long sea voyage  sailing on his  two master 55 footer back to Aussie.. from the other side of the world…

With profound thanks to all  who made my voyage on snow to date, so enjoyable and satisfying …

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7 Responses to Reflections on 50 World Loppet Races

  1. Diana Patterson says:

    John you are a legend! Wonderful to read that you are still enjoying the Loppets – I think it is time for me to trade in summer in Antarctica and join you again. This winter at Falls Creek and the Hoppet may provide just the right training. All the best Di Patterson

    • Dr John Miller says:

      Thanks Di..you are a real legend with your pioneering and continuing work in Antarctica..Hannes and Einar were right to call you “Lady Di..”..jom..

  2. Dr John Miller AO says:

    Di Patterson…congrats on your so wel,deserved recognition on Australia Day..with granting of the Order of Australia..well done Lady Di..
    John M and Wangaratta Ski Club and all at Falls Creek..see you on the tracks this winter!!

  3. Dr John O. Miller says:

    Paddy Field..thanks for your great assistance in recent years through the London Region Nordic Ski Club..the club ensured that I was able to complete the last few races needed for my 5th masters ..silver of course!..jom.

  4. Glennis says:

    Hi John. Great to hear you made the big 50! Anyway, I don’t think you should hang up your ski bindings quite and certainly not until we have all joined you at the Kangaroo Hoppet! Could take a while yet. Great skiing with you in Czech and Bessans and good to meet Ruth too. Glennis & Ian.

    • John Miller says:

      Thanks Glennis and Ian..LRNSC was a great help in getting to my 50…I’m actually not stopping cross country skiing, just converting to skating and hoping for much more fun on our adventures in the wonderful world of cross country ski adventures …as an Aussie I ask could Ian please learn the words of “Click go the shears…” Before next northern winter!

  5. Dr John Miller says:

    I DONT THINK AN Aussie Pom like Ian will ever now learn the words…so Ill bring them to Obertilliac Ian !!Cheers mate JM.Melbourne..

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