MarathonsRacingBirkie Searches for Two Skiers to Re-Enact 51-Kilometer Trek as Birkebeiner Soldiers

FasterSkier FasterSkierSeptember 11, 2006

HAWYARD, Wis., September 2006 – The Board of Directors for the American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation (ABSF) is searching for two tough skiers to ski the 51-kilometer race from Cable to Hayward on Saturday, Feb. 24, 2007 dressed as Birkebeiner warriors.

The two skiers will dress in authentic gear, ski on wooden skis, and depict the 800-year-old rescue of Prince Haakon (H?-ken), the baby prince who became one of the most popular Kings in Norwegian history.

The Birkebeiner soldiers became a Norwegian symbol of courage, perseverance and character in the face of adversity, and the historic flight inspired the creation of two ski marathons – the Birkebeiner Rennet in Lillehammer, Norway, launched in 1932 and skied on the same route as the famous rescue, and the American Birkebeiner, launched in 1973 when the late Tony Wise looked to his Norwegian roots to create a high-profile event for Telemark, his new ski lodge in Cable, Wisconsin.

Bill Pierce, Hayward, Wis., and Johnny Ingdall, Minneapolis, Minn., replicated the rescue in 2003, and Jim Vanden Brook, Madison, Wis., and brother Tom, Arlington, Va., simulated the rescue in 2006. All four skiers remarked that skiing as one of the warriors made that Birkie their most memorable.

“Now we are searching for two more skiers to re-enact the event that occurred 800 years ago in Norway when Torstein (TOR-stine) and Skervald (SHER-vol) carried the prince from Lillehammer to Nidaros, protecting him from the despised Baglers,” said Ned Zuelsdorff, Executive Director of the ABSF.

“We are challenging skiers to find a friend, and tell us in 300 words or less why they would be the best 2007 Birkebeiner warriors. We want to know how the pair has demonstrated that they are capable of skiing the Birkie on wooden skis — while wearing the warrior costumes, carrying weapons of the era, and transporting baby Prince Haakon.”

Zuelsdorff said the Birkie 2007 warriors will serve as “ambassadors on the trail” encouraging other skiers and volunteers. The warriors will carry a baby doll along the course until Main Street where they’ll pick up a real infant “Prince” for the last two blocks to the finish line.

The American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation will supply the Birkebeiner outfits and weapons, and the selected skiers must supply their own wooden skis.

To enter the competition, email a 300-word essay to birkie@birkie.com (one essay per pair of skiers). The deadline is November 1, and men and women are encouraged to apply.

“Be concise and persuasive,” Zuelsdorff said. “The four previous warriors will review the essays and select the best pair to ski as the 2007 Birkebeiner warriors. Their selection will be announced on December 1, 2006.”

The pair selected will likely echo the sentiments of the former warriors and describe this as their most memorable Birkie ever!

Source: ABSF press release

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