Don Allen Saskaloppet History PDF Print E-mail
After the La Ronge Ski Club was formed in the early 1970's, club membership grew and club volunteers began cutting trails by hand. The late Don Allen of English Bay was instrumental in this early trail development. With help from friends such as Guy Niven, George Searson, and Vern Studer, Don soon had a network of trails running through the boreal forest north of La Ronge.

By the fall of 1982, Don and his friends decided that La Ronge was ready for its own loppet and plans were put in place to run the inaugural Saskaloppet the following spring. A great deal of work had to be done to get the rough local trails ready for visitors, but many volunteer hours accomplished the task. The first Saskaloppet went ahead on March 20, 1983, with 120 skiers signing up for the only distance category available - a ski of 50 kilometres. The event was a huge success, and the Saskaloppet was on its way to becoming the premier loppet in Saskatchewan.

Sadly, Don Allen, the driving force that gave life to the first Saskaloppet, did not live to see the Saskaloppet grow through the years. In 1983, he was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumour, and he died on March 13th, 1984, just a week before the 2nd Saskaloppet. That year, his son Vern, racing against the best skiers in the province, crossed the finish line in 1st place.

Over the years, the Saskaloppet, now named in Don Allen's memory, has grown from a single distance event to one that offers skiers a broad range of choices. Now in its 29th year, the Saskaloppet offers seven different distances, starting with the 5 km Jackrabbit Glide and going up to the two-day, 84 km Kupesewin. The Saskaloppet has something for everyone, no matter how long or short the stride, this is the place to glide!