HAYWARD, Wis. With just one week til the 35th anniversary American Birkebeiner in Cable and Hayward, Wis., Executive Director Ned Zuelsdorff today announced it’s full steam ahead for a full race with a Main Street, Hayward, finish.
“The trail is in excellent condition for both ski-skating and classic skiing,” Zuelsdorff said. “It has been a great winter with the early heavy snow followed by the continuing weekly light snow showers we've received. Last nights 4″ of snow was a bonus.”
Zuelsdorff said the Birkie and Birkie Classic Trails are covered with a firm and fast six-inch base. He identified Lake Hayward as an area where some work was needed.
“There is a thin snow base over most of the lake and recent snow has helped a lot. We've been grooming the lake for more than a week to get it ready for the Pre-Birkie, Barnebirkie and of course the Birkie itself,” he said. “We'll plow portions of the lake creating a good ribbon of snow all the way across the lake bringing the skiers to Main Street for their finish.”
That's good news to the 9,000 skiers, 2,000 volunteers, 15,000 spectators and organizers of the 35th anniversary event that begins Thursday, Feb. 21 and culminates with the 51-kilometer Subaru American Birkebeiner, 53-kilometer Birkie Classic and 23-kilometer Kortelopet sponsored by the State Bank of Drummond and Cable Chamber of Commerce on Saturday, Feb. 23.
“As of February 14, we have just over 6,100 skiers registered for the 51K Subaru American Birkebeiner, 53K Birkie Classic 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 1,300 kids, ages 3-13, to participate in the Sons of Norway/Salomon Barnebirkie, nearly 400 teens to race the CenturyTel Junior Birkie, and around 300 for the Cheqtel 5K and 10K events. In all, we are expecting 9,000 participants in our 2008 American Birkebeiner 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 6,600 Birkie and Kortelopet skiers on their way.
Skiers from 21 countries and 48 U.S. states participate in the American Birkebeiner. Aside from the United States, the top three countries represented are Canada, Norway and Russia. The top five U.S. states include Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, Michigan and Colorado.
Birkie and Kortelopet skiers are 27% women and 29% classical style skiers representing increases this year for both of these groups. Skiers range in age from 13 to 85 for these main events.
Ed Harjala will be completing his 20th Birkie this year just before celebrating his 86th birthday. Skiers can join Ed by registering for the American Birkebeiner or Kortelopet online at www.birkie.com
Skiers can find registration forms at www.birkie.com. Skiers are asked to register in person Race Week at event sites for the Swiss Miss/Salomon Barnebirkie, the American Birkebeiner Elite Sprints, Citizen Sprints sponsored by Northshore Promotional Group, Sun Flour Market and Outdoor Ventures, CenturyTel Junior Birkie, Cheqtel 5K/10K, and Johnson Bank Prince Haakon 12K.
“Birkie 2008 looks to again be a fantastic event thanks to the skiers, sponsors, local businesses and nearly 2,000 volunteers who have made this race possible for 35 years,” Zuelsdorff said.
In addition to races and events for all ages and fitness levels, Birkie 2008 features a slide show tracing the fantastic history of the event, Welcoming Ceremony, re-enactment of the historic Birkie start up Mt. Telemark, Parade of Nations, Ski Expo, On-Snow Demos, seminars, pasta feeds, music and lots more. For a complete Schedule of Events and up-to-the-minute information, log on to www.birkie.com.
“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 2008 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 35th year, the American Birkebeiner (1-800-USA-BRKE; www.birkie.com), February 21-23, 2008, is the largest and most prestigious cross country ski marathon in North America. Spanning more than 50 kilometers from Cable to Hayward, the Birkie is part of the Worldloppet series of 14 international races, part of the American Ski Marathon series of 14 races, and part of the lives of citizen skiers from around the world. Sponsors of Birkie 2008 include Subaru, State Bank of Drummond, Cable Chamber of Commerce, Johnson Bank, Sawyer County Record and Superior Publishing, and other businesses throughout the region and country. Find out more at www.birkie.com or call 715/634-5025.