Hayward, WI. With just 10 days til the 34th annual American Birkebeiner in Cable and Hayward, Wis., Executive Director Ned Zuelsdorff today announced it's full steam ahead for a full 51-kilometer race with a Main Street, Hayward, finish.
“We went out on the course today, and things look very positive,” Zuelsdorff said. “It was really good to see first-hand what conditions look like.”
Zuelsdorff said the northern and southern portions of the trail are covered with a one to three-inch thick, very firm base.
“I checked the significant downhills used last weekend for the Pre-Birkie, and they held up with no noticeable loss of base,” he said. “I also checked the new Classic Trail, including those portions used for the North End Classic on Sunday, and the tracks are in good to very good condition.”
On Tuesday, Feb. 13 Zuelsdorff and a team of groomers and Board members checked the southern portion of the trail and identified limited areas where additional snow was needed.
“It's all very doable,” Zuelsdorff said. “It has been common during the 34-year history of the event to shovel snow onto the course in these areas, and we have harvested a large quantity of snow from Lake Hayward that will be used, not only for Main Street, but to haul to those limited areas we identified as being in need of snow. A crew will carry out trail work through the weekend. We believe we will have a full race and tracks will be available for classic skiers.”
That's good news to the 9,000 skiers, 2,000 volunteers, 15,000 spectators and organizers of the 34th annual event that begins Thursday, Feb. 22 and culminates with the 51-kilometer Subaru American Birkebeiner and 23-kilometer Kortelopet sponsored by the State Bank of Drummond and Cable Chamber of Commerce on Saturday, Feb. 24.
Registrations for the largest cross country ski race in North America are on pace with last year's numbers (the fifth largest race in Birkie history).
“As of February 12, we have a total of 6,060 skiers registered for the 51K Subaru American Birkebeiner and 23K Kortelopet sponsored by State Bank of Drummond and Cable Chamber of Commerce,” Zuelsdorff said. “In addition, we have close to 200 skiers registered for the Johnson Bank Prince Haakon 12K event, and we expect another 1,000 kids, ages 3-13, to participate in the Sons of Norway/Swiss Miss Barnebirkie, nearly 400 teens to race the CenturyTel Junior Birkie, and around 100 for the Cheqtel 5K and 10K events. In all, we are estimating 9,000 participants in Birkie 2007 races and events.”
Birkie staff are in high gear taking new registrations while volunteers and staff organize awards, food and staffing for the 11 aid stations along the Birkie course.
On race day, Zuelsdorff will welcome the diverse gathering of cultures from around the world, count down to the starting gun, and send the 7,000 Birkie and Kortelopet skiers on their way.
Skiers from 19 countries and 49 U.S. states participate in the American Birkebeiner. Aside from the United States, the top five countries represented are Canada, Germany, Switzerland, Norway and Russia. The top five U.S. states include Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, Michigan and Colorado.
Participation in the Birkie and Kortelopet breaks down to 76 percent men and 24 percent women with 6 percent between the ages of 18-24; 42 percent between the ages of 25 to 39; 50 percent between ages 40 to 59; and 2 percent between the ages of 60 to 80.
Among those vying for the podium will be 3-time Olympian and 1998 Birkie champion Carl Swenson, of Park City, Utah.
Skiers can register for the American Birkebeiner or Kortelopet online at www.birkie.com until Feb. 18 and in person at Telemark Resort in Cable on Thursday, February 22 from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Friday, February 23 from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Skiers can register online at www.birkie.com and in person prior to the Sons of Norway/Swiss Miss Barnebirkie, the Salomon Elite Sprints, Citizen Sprints sponsored by Hayward's Sun Flour Market, CenturyTel Junior Birkie, Cheqtel 5K/10K, and Johnson Bank 12K Prince Haakon.
In addition to races and events for all ages and fitness levels, Birkie 2007 features a Welcoming Ceremony, Parade of Nations, Ski Expo, On-Snow Demos, seminars, pasta feeds, music and lots more.
“We encourage folks to join us for this annual celebration of fitness, personal endurance and outdoor enthusiasm,” Zuelsdorff said. “We promise something for everyone.”
Birkie 2007 is sponsored by Subaru, State Bank of Drummond, Cable Chamber of Commerce, Johnson Bank, Superior Publishing and other businesses throughout the region and country.
About the Birkie: Celebrating its 34th year, the American Birkebeiner (1-800-USA-BRKE; www.birkie.com), February 22-24, 2007, is North America's largest and most prestigious cross-country ski marathon. Spanning 51 kilometers from Cable to Hayward, the Birkie is one of 14 races in the Worldloppet international circuit, part of the American Ski Marathon series of 14 races, and part of the lives of citizen skiers from all walks of life and from around the world. Sponsors of Birkie 2007 include Subaru, State Bank of Drummond, Cable Chamber of Commerce, Johnson Bank, Superior Publishing and other businesses throughout the region and country. Find out more at http://www.birkie.com or call 715/634-5025.