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Masters Minds: From a Bum Knee to a 2015 Birkie Age-Group Win

John Wood, of Anchorage, with his first-place hat and cowbell after winning his age group (65-69) in the 2015 American Birkebeiner 54 k classic in February in Hayward, Wis. (Courtesy photo)

Alaskan John Wood, 67, explains his journey in athletics after a serious knee injury at age 21, and how he recovered from a total knee replacement to win his age group at the 2015 Classic Birkie with the help of an Anchorage surgeon, physical therapists and the APU masters program.

Brooks Narrowly Misses Overall FIS Marathon Cup Victory, 10th in Ugra

Holly Brooks (2nd from the right) was third in the 2015 FIS Marathon Cup, after finishing 10th in the final event, the 50 k freestyle race Ugra Ski Marathon in Siberia, Russia, on Saturday. Tatjana Mannima of Estonia (center) won the overall Marathon Cup, and Aurelie Dabudyk of France was second (2nd from the left). Photo: FIS/Worldloppet

In a shortened 30 k competition, Holly Brooks of APU placed 10th in the Ugra Ski Marathon in Khanty-Maniysk, Russia, not enough to hold onto the FIS Marathon Cup lead. She finished third overall, the best ranking ever for a North American skier. Tatjana Mannima of Estonia and Petr Novak of the Czech Republic took home the titles.

Masters Minds: A Tale of Two Ski Days

Igor Badamshin: photo is titled "Snowflakes, ice cream, and Igor," by former CXC Team elite coach Bill Pierce. Badamshin was the CXC program head coach until his unexpected death in January 2014. (Photo: cxcnewsfeed.wordpress.com)

CXC masters skier and American Birkebeiner board member Charlie Dee recalls the story of two subsequent days of skiing in 2014 and the memories of late coach Igor Badamshim that came with them.

Brooks’ Season Rolls On, Headed to Siberia to Wrap Up FIS Marathon Cup

Holly Brooks racing to her second Birkie victory in Hayward, Wisconsin, in February. On April 11th, Brooks will try to wrap up the FIS Marathon Cup crown in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia. (Photo: Darlene Prois/ABSF)

While most skiers are heading out on vacation, Holly Brooks is en route to Siberia for the last race of the FIS Marathon Cup. She leads the series by four points over Tatjana Mannima of Estonia, meaning that whether it’s in first or in sixth, whoever crosses the finish line first takes the crown.

Eliassen Victorious in Birkebeiner Sans Kick Wax; Johaug Picks Up Win in First Try

Therese Johaug of Norway said it had been a dream to compete in the Birkebeiner ever since she was a little girl. On Saturday her dream came true... and not only did she win, she set a five-minute course record. (Photo: Swix Ski Classics/Instagram)

It seemed crazy: the Norwegian Birkebeiner has almost 3,000 feet of total climbing. But double-poling is what Petter Eliassen trains for, so that’s what he did- and he became the first man to win the legendary marathon without kickwax. Therese Johaug picked up a five-minute victory in the women’s race.

Gregg Skates to Third, Brooks Fifth in Switzerland’s Engadin (with Videos)

American Caitlin Gregg (Team Gregg/Madshus) placed third at the 2015 Engadin Skimarathon on Sunday. (Photo: Inge Scheve)

Caitlin Gregg finished third in her first Engadin Skimarathon in Switzerland on Sunday for another bronze to add to her collection following World Championships. Holly Brooks was the second American woman in the top five and reclaimed the FIS Marathon Cup lead in fifth.

Brooks Wins Second Birkie; Bonaldi Takes Men’s Race in Dramatic Finish

Holly Brooks celebrates after winning her second American Berkebeiner on Saturday in Hayward, Wis. The win put her back in the lead of the overall FIS Marathon Cup. (Photo: American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation)

The 2015 American Birkebeiner 51 k freestyle marathon on Saturday offered no shortage of excitement, as Italy’s Segio Bonaldi outsprinted three French skiers to win his second Birkie by half a second. American Holly Brooks used a hard push in the final kilometers to collect her second Birkie title as well.

2015 American Birkebeiner Preview: Bridges, Brooks and More

Holly Brooks winning the 2012 American Birkebeiner, four-tenths of a second ahead of Caitlin Gregg (l), for her first Birkie title. (Photo: Darlene Prois/American Birkebeiner) http://fasterskier.com/article/brooks-outsprints-gregg-for-birkie-victory/

There will be several things to keep an eye on during this year’s 42nd American Birkebeiner, including top competitors, like two-time U.S. Olympian Holly Brooks, and a brand-new bridge just a few kilometers from the finish. Watch it live and follow our post-race coverage.

Gearing up for the Long Run: Ski Classics’ Jizerská 50 in Czech Republic on Sunday

Start of the Jizerská Padesatka, a 50 k classic race near Liberec Czech, Republic. (Photo: Swix Ski Classics)

Sunday’s 50-kilometer classic race Jizerská Padesatka near Liberec, Czech Republic, is the next event in the 2015 Swix Ski Classics long-distance circuit and racers are eager to hit the tracks after a long break since mid-December.

Brooks Joins Norwegian Pro Team, Adds Swix Ski Classics to Season Schedule

Holly Brooks (c) poses with Team Santander manager Nils Marius Otterstad (l) and famed wax tech and coach Magner Dale (r) in Living, Italy.

When Holly Brooks traveled to Livigno, Italy, the former U.S. Ski Team member was focused on the La Sgambeda 42 k freestyle that marked the first FIS Marathon Cup race of the season. As fate would have it, however, Brooks exited the weekend as a member of a professional Norwegian team, Team Santander, alongside famed skier Anders Aukland, wax tech Magnar Dale, and manager Nils Marius Otterstad.

Weekend Roundup: ‘Way More is Possible’

Tim Burke on his way to 25th in the IBU World Cup 12.5 k pursuit on Sunday in Hochfilzen, Austria. (Photo: USBA/NordicFocus)

Catch up on what you may have missed this weekend, as nordic competitions across the globe are begging to heat up. Here, we recap everything from biathlon in Austria to the cross country World Cup in Switzerland and everything in between.

Wild Card on the FIS Marathon Cup, Brooks 2nd in La Sgambeda

Riitta-Liisa Roponen (FIN) does the hat trick!!! 3rd consecutive victory in La Sgambeda!!! 2nd Holly Brooks (USA) and 3rd Ekaterina Rudakova (BLR)

They called her a wild card — the International Ski Federation, that is. And according to Holly Brooks, she wasn’t sure what she was capable of either. After a second-place finish in the first marathon of the season, she’s excited about what’s ahead of her.

Sweden Debuts Domestic Marathon Series: Björn Dæhlie SKI Challenge

The Björn Dæhlie SKI Challenge, a new long-distance cup in Sweden, is offering a domestic alternative to the hugely popular international race series Swix Ski Classics. (Photo: Magnus Osth/Swix Ski Classics)

A new ski-marathon series has emerged in Sweden, the five-race Björn Dæhlie SKI Challenge, which kicks off Dec. 28 in Falun and ends Feb. 22 in Malung. According to its founders, the idea is have both elite and recreational skiers racing the same events and cut down on travel. (Updated)

Birkie Survey to Study Health, How Social Support and Interaction Keep Us Going

Signing up for a big race (like the Birkie), attending a regular training group, or even having a once-a-week workout with a friend can provide huge motivation for people to stay active. Photo: American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation.

Dr. Paul Anderson and World Cup sprint champ Kikkan Randall chat with us about a new study of American Birkebeiner participants. Using 24,000 skiers who have competed in the Wisconsin marathon over the years, they hope to gain valuable insight into what gets people to exercise – and then apply it in a public health perspective.

Norwegian Birkebeiner Announces Contingency Plans, Backup Trail After 2014 Cancellation

Birkebeinerne_ski01

After a disastrous 2014 event which saw the title race canceled on race morning due to dangerously high winds in the mountains, there has been much soul-searching in Norway as to how the Birkebeiner ski marathon can go forward (or whether the organizers were being wusses).

New Birkie Ambassador, Brooks Going for FIS Marathon Cup Overall Podium (Updated)

Holly Brooks during the Kesugi Ridge Traverse Trail Run in Denali State Park on Sept. 6. She placed second in the 28-mile trail run. (Photo: HollySkis.Blogspot.com/http://hollyskis.blogspot.com/2014/09/awesome-and-more-awesome.html/http://ultrasignup.com/register.aspx?did=28570

It’s final. Holly Brooks is tackling the FIS Marathon Cup/Worldloppet series this season, with seven of nine races on her schedule and a goal of an overall top three. “I’m ready for new challenges,” she says. “I’m a competitor and I want to be in races where I’m in contention for a podium.” As the Birkie’s first elite-athlete representative, she’s hoping that will simplify some of the international logistics.

17,000 Birkebeiners Turn Critics as Legendary Norwegian Marathon Canceled Due to Extreme Weather

A photo of the Raufjell taken by Johannes Haukåssveen early Saturday morning and posted to the Birken website.

Almost all of the participants in the Birkebeiner, one of the largest ski marathons in the world, had reached the start in Rena on Saturday when race organizers were forced to cancel the race due to wind gusts that reached 50 miles per hour in the mountains. Since then, the decision has caused nothing but grief as many in Norway are fiercely critical of the cancellation.

Engadin is Anything But Easy: Glørsen, Roponen Win Swiss Marathon; Brooks Fourth

2014 Engadin Ski Marathon (Photo: www.Engadin-SkiMarathon.ch) http://www.liveimageticker.ch/slideshow/?border#_hdskimarathon2014

The 46th annual Engadin Ski Marathon took place this past Sunday. Though the 42-kilometer skate course follows a valley downhill, losing a total of 150 meters (nearly 500 feet), that fact alone did not guarantee an easy race — on the contrary, most top finishers claimed this marathon to be one of their toughest.

Give Me The Blåbärssoppa and Nobody Gets Hurt: An American at the Vasaloppet

The first hill on the Vasaloppet course. 15,800 skiers start at once, and it took me 35 minutes to go three kilometers. Photo: Rauschendorfer/NordicFocus.

I might be a nobody who struggled my way through Sweden’s 90 k Vasaloppet with next to no preparation, but I also saw what it takes to win the Vasa: through the generosity of a friend, I accidentally embedded myself with Team Robin Bryntesson. Here’s the next installment of our first-person staff accounts of famous races.

Adventures in Birkie Land: A First-Timer’s Experience at the American Birkebeiner

Birkie Fever.

This past weekend, nearly the entirety of the adult population of Midwestern skiers made their way to Hayward for the annual get-together of the ski community: The Birkie. The American Birkebeiner (or Birkie, for short), is the biggest ski race in North America. For many skiers, the race represents their culmination of training for the whole year. Read a first-timer’s perspective on the race, the trail, and Birkie Fever.