Loppet or Leave it

Posted on February 7, 2011. Filed under: Public Relations, Sporting life, Twin Cities region | Tags: , , , , |

Minneapolis Loppet street banner

Minneapolis Loppet - a celebration of winter's wonders


What’s in a name? A plethora of wobble-legged snow cruisers, in the case of the world-famous City of Lakes Loppet in Minneapolis. When a California friend asked me what a loppet was, I was forced to admit I didn’t know. This in spite of living and working in Minneapolis all these years, with some ongoing exposure to the cultural life of the city. In my ignorance, I suggested to my SoCal friend that a “loppet” might indeed be some kind of a rabbit – a notion derived via a mental association of the word with the lop-eared rabbit of lore.

Visions of rabbit-stormed streets dashed

But I was wrong. It turned out there were no armies of ski-borne rabbits slipping noiselessly through the streets of Minneapolis during the recent loppet weekend (Minneapolis Star Tribune loppet recap).

No these were just ordinary two-legged cross-country skiers of the human kind, now assembled en masse in one spot for a weekend of slippery snow-sliding fun and friendly, democratic competition.

Nordic roots

As I discovered in doing due loppet diligence on-line:

“The word ‘loppet’ has its origins in Scandinavian culture and commonly refers to a mass participation cross-country ski event which includes longer, marathon length distances and both recreational and competitive elements. Some definitions refer to a loppet as a ‘citizen’s race,’” according to Sleeping Giant Loppet – a site promoting the March 5, 2011 loppet to be held in Thunder Bay, Ontario.

So it was that, once again, the value of a name was driven home to me.

Selling loppets to Californians

Loppet is assuredly a curious name for an event held in the United States – and on the same weekend as the superlatively named Super Bowl, of all things – and one that commands attention if only by begging for further explanation.

If a Californian has to ask, “what’s a loppet?” then there’s obviously a case to be made for a more forceful public relations effort in behalf of the world-famous Minneapolis Loppet. Something for Minneapolis Mayor R. T. Rybak – the chief proponent of the Minneapolis Loppet – to consider as he basks in the afterglow of this past weekend’s very successful event. And one in which the Mayor himself was very much involved, as denoted from his breathless Sunday afternoon Tweets charting his own progress over the snow-covered course.

If the loppet of Minneapolis is indeed a cross-country ski celebration, as it most certainly is, it perhaps should have a mascot – and a lop-eared Finnish rabbit from Lapland would be a good one, in my humble opinion.

Randomly Noted:

Cost to make a child’s wish come true: “about $6,000,” according to Tom McKinney, executive director of the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Minnesota. (See “Clawback Incorporated” in Twin Cities Business Monthly for details.)

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