HAYWARD, Wis., Feb. 24, 2007 — Zack Simons, Park City, Utah, and Kate Whitcomb, Ketchum, Idaho, skied to victory at the 25-kilometer Subaru American Birkebeiner in Cable and Seeley today. Zack captured the 34th annual Birkie championship title in 1:09:05.4 and Whitcomb claimed victory with a time of 1:18:02. 211 elite men and 54 elite women vied for the podium during a shortened Birkie 2007.
Patrick Weaver, Bend, Orgeon, skied to a second-place finish in 1:09:08.2 followed by Eli Enman, Huntington, Vermont, with a third-place time of 1:09:09.9.
Larson and Stursova agreed it was a thrill to be on the podium and expressed gratitude to organizers for all the preparations to make the race happen under difficult circumstances.
Mother Nature, an unruly player in all 2007 race decisons made by the American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation, didn’t cooperate with officials when it came to sending sufficient snow for a full 51-kilometer race. For the second time in its 34-year history, the Birkebeiner was shortened to a 25-kilometer race, this time for 265 elite skiers only.
6,708 Birkie and Kortelopet skiers participated in an untimed, non-competitive, â€˜open-track’ event with Birkie skiers finishing at Highway OO and Kortelopet skiers finishing a shortened 18K race at Telemark Resort. 190 Prince Haakon skiers started and finished their 8K race at Telemark Resort.
Ned Zuelsdorff, Executive Director of the American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation, welcomed skiers from 20 foreign nations, including Japan, Estonia and Russia, and 45 U.S states, including Arizona, Georgia and Alaska.
Honorary Starter Mark Ernst, 30-year Birkie skier from Green Bay, Wis., sent the elite skiers on their way for a competitive 25-kilometer race that finished at Highway OO in Seeley. Ernst was selected as honorary starter in recognition of his contributions as a competitor, supporter and ambassador for the Birkie.
Phillip Schaefer, 30-year Birkie skier, and son Michael, 10-year Birkie skier strided along the 25K race dressed as the traditional Birkebeiner soldiers who rescued Baby Prince Haakon 800 years ago. The Birkebeiner soldiers became a Norwegian symbol of courage, perseverance and character in the face of adversity, and the 800- year-old legend inspired the American Birkebeiner ski race that turned Cable and Hayward into a skiing mecca.
â€œI’m pleased with the outcome of today’s events,â€ said Zuelsdorff. â€œThe conditions made it a difficult call, but skiers took it in stride and were pleased to be able to be on the Birkie Trail. This was the best option given the course conditions. Skiers were, for the most part, pleased with the low-key, non-competitive, â€˜open-track’ event.â€
For race day results, log on to www.birkie.com.
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.