Dubay Discusses Mistake, Birkie DQ (Updated)

Alex KochonFebruary 28, 201276
Norway's Vegard Ulvang (r) holds up the arm of Joe Dubay, who was originally proclaimed the winner of the 2012 American Birkebeiner men's classic race before being disqualified for not registering and racing in his college teammate's bib. Dave Chamberlain (l) moved from second to first, and Ulvang ultimately placed second.

Note: This story has been updated to include thoughts from David Chamberlain, who was later proclaimed the 2012 American Birkebeiner classic champion.


All American Birkebeiner coverage is brought to you through the generous support of Concept2, makers of the SkiErg.

Before and during the American Birkebeiner 54 k classic race on Saturday, the thought of being disqualified never crossed Joe Dubay’s mind.

The 21-year-old said he didn’t think twice when his College of Saint Scholastica teammate Chris Parr gave him his bib, or when he started with Wave 1 and the elites in Cable, Wis., or as he contended for the win with seasoned veterans Vegard Ulvang of Norway and David Chamberlain of Boulder Nordic Sport.

The look on Parr’s face at the finish told him something was wrong, Dubay said in a phone interview on Monday.

As the college freshman sprinted to the line and narrowly beat Chamberlain followed by Ulvang for the victory in his first Birkie, Dubay realized there might be a very big problem. Living only a couple of hours away in Minneapolis, he had been announced as the winner as he came through, but that was only because someone recognized him.

According to the entry list, he was Chris Parr.

Dubay said he contacted some race officials immediately after the race.

“I told them, ‘I’m not Chris Parr. My name’s Joe Dubay. What do you want me to do about this?’ ” he said. “I was pretty sure I would get immediately disqualified.”

Instead, Dubay said the officials told him to sit tight while they sorted things out. The said he should go to the podium ceremony and press conference in the meantime, he said.

“I felt like was in a difficult spot because I made a mistake,” Dubay said. “It should have been somebody else up there not me.”

About an hour after the press conference, the results reflected Dubay’s disqualification. He didn’t hear back from race officials, but discovered the DQ upon checking the results later in the day. While there was no money at stake in the 54 k classic race, the mixup caused a podium shift with Chamberlain moving to first and Ulvang placing second. Murray Carter of Manitoba was third.

According to American Birkebeiner Executive Director Ned Zuelsdorff, Dubay was disqualified for not registering for the 2012 classic race and skiing in another racer’s bib. That violated rules set by the International Federation of Skiing and the American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation, he explained in an email.

Zuelsdorff quoted a statement from the Birkie website:

“Do not allow another skier to use your bib. If this does occur, the skier and finish time will be disqualified from the race, and both you and the person using your bib will each be required to pay a $150 penalty before being allowed to enter a future event. You and the skier may also prohibited from entering a future event for a period of time.”

The statement explained that skiing in someone else’s bib can cause issues with age class and overall standings. For safety purposes, it was important for a racer to be identified in case of a problem out on the course.

Zuelsdorff wrote the problem wasn’t new — they had a similar situation with a Kortelopet 23 k “winner” and age-class discrepancies in the past — but this was the first with a Birkie winner.

Dubay said he was working with his college coach, Chad Salmela, to right his wrong.

“Basically, I’d just like to express to them that I definitely regret that and apologize for causing a bit of a mess for them for the other athletes that had to deal with the confusion,” Dubay said. “Racing under Chris’s bib was not the right thing to do in the first place.”

Nearly a month ago, Parr offered Dubay his bib upon qualifying for Junior Nationals. Parr decided to skip the Birkie in preparation for the races March 3-10, but came to cheer on Dubay.

He picked up his bib — registered for Wave 1 of the classic race — and gave it to Dubay. In the classic race, the elites and Wave 1 start together, so Dubay jumped in and contended with six-time Olympic medalist Ulvang and Chamberlain, the race service director at BNS.

Dubay, who won a 30 k Finnish Junior Championship in 2009, said he felt good throughout Saturday’s race, but regretted how things turned out.

“I didn’t really understand how big the race was, which also probably led to me not putting two and two together there,” he said. “I went to the start and did my thing. I was in shock the whole time; I was like, ‘Holy smokes, I really didn’t know this was going to be this big.’ ”

The American Birkebeiner and its associated races reached an all-time high with more than 9,000 participants and an estimated 20,000 spectators this year.

The man who was retroactively dubbed the classic champion, Chamberlain didn’t have any hard feelings.

“I have to hand it to Joe Dubay, he skied a great race, smart tactics and a good sprint at the end,” Chamberlain wrote in an email. “When it came down to the finish straight none of us could follow him.  Nobody can take away his effort on Saturday, and the number he had on his back certainly didn’t affect his performance.”

On his end, Chamberlain was pleased with how the pack racing played out. He felt good and his skis were fast, making the 54 k more enjoyable. However, nothing topped skiing alongside one of Norway’s greatest racers of all time.

“The best part of my day on Saturday was the chance to compete with my childhood hero, Vegard Ulvang,”  Chamberlain wrote. “I always have admired him, and getting the chance to exchange a few words with him during the race and have a talk with him at the podium ceremony afterwards was really special for me. I can say after skiing behind him during the race that he still has a lot to teach about classic technique, every kick and pole is in the right place with no wasted effort.”

2012 American Birkebeiner classic race results

Alex Kochon

Alex Kochon (alexkochon@gmail.com) is a former FasterSkier editor and roving reporter who never really lost touch with the nordic scene. A freelance writer, editor, and outdoor-loving mom of two, she lives in northeastern New York and enjoys adventuring in the Adirondacks. She shares her passion for sports and recreation as the co-founder of "Ride On! Mountain Bike Trail Guide" and a sales and content contributor at Curated.com. When she's not skiing or chasing her kids around, Alex assists authors as a production and marketing coordinator for iPub Global Connection.

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    February 28, 2012 at 10:26 am

    Dear Joe Dubay;
    I look forward to you showing up next year, in your own bib, and winning again. 🙂 Good luck! stay fast.

  • donpollari

    February 28, 2012 at 12:21 pm

    Really bad decision to race with someone else’s bib. Make what amends you can. The Birkie board would be just in excluding you for at least year. If you took this action voluntarily it would do your reputation some good.

  • highstream

    February 28, 2012 at 1:11 pm

    Gee, taking Dubay’s explanation at face value doesn’t speak well for College of Saint Scholastica, i.e., letting someone in who doesn’t even have the social intelligence and responsibility to know that before using someone else’s registration and bib in any contest or race it’s necessary to check the rules and talk with the race organizers. Or, should his claimed naivete be taken at face value? It does stretch credulity more than a little.

  • zachhandler

    February 28, 2012 at 1:20 pm

    Donpollari – I think winning the birkie already did joe’s reputation some good. Of all the bad decisions a 21 year old college student can make, this is pretty trivial.

  • tclaynm@juno.com

    February 28, 2012 at 1:49 pm

    While it’s not smart decision-making on Dubay’s part and he should have corrected the matter prior to racing, I agree that it’s not something that should be escalated more than it is already. He was disqualified and must pay $150, plus his buddy has to pay the $150. That money will hopefully go toward some sort of youth skiing foundation or the cost of grooming, etc. I think that is enough to right a wrong and give them something to think about in terms of social responsibility.

    The guy did “win” and deserved to do so, obviously, so now he’ll always have that lack of recognition to underscore the somewhat trivial and unwise thing that he did — that’s for his whole life! That will always be the gift that keeps on giving. I’m sure they’ll both be a little more responsible for their own registrations in the future. Dubay apologized and admitted to his mistake, and the Birkie did what they had to do according to the rules, so I think it’s a settled matter.

  • jrwessling

    February 28, 2012 at 2:38 pm

    What Joe did was not responsible, it did not look good on behalf of CSS, but the birkie board has taken appropriate actions. He knew the rules, and until anyone has been in his shoes I would suggest saving your absurd comments to yourself.

  • T.Eastman

    February 28, 2012 at 4:03 pm

    It’s done, BFD. Who are some of you perfection police anyways?

  • highstream

    February 28, 2012 at 4:18 pm

    I think most of us have been in his shoes at one time or another, and probably more, in our lives. That is, we knew something was wrong and went ahead and did it anyway, figuring that afterwards we could weasle out or weasle down the responsibility, or maybe our parents would bail us out, afterward. However, most of us have not done it in the largest and most pretigious ski race in North America and then pretended as if we didn’t know what was going on or that it was important. This was not Dubay’s first time around the block; he spent a school year in at a sports school in Finland, including racing in the country’s national junior championships (as well as in the U.S. qualifiers). So, please!

    Dubay (and his roommate) not only cheated the integrity of the event and altered the dynamics of the race itself, he implicitly insulted all those skiers who couldn’t enter because the Birke filled quickly or who paid but had to DNS because of injury or illness, yet couldn’t sell their entry – and didn’t try – because they accepted the rules and conditions of the competiton.

    So yes, while there are a lot worse things in the world than Dubay’s actions, and he did show that he could ski, one would hope that 20(?) year old college students know enough not to take exams or write papers for others, or vice-versa, and that they understand where the line is at the Birkie.

  • KeeblerElf

    February 28, 2012 at 5:02 pm

    I don’t understand what highstream’s prerogative is. Joe admitted that he screwed up. Is there a point to dragging this on any more?

  • anchskier

    February 28, 2012 at 5:30 pm

    KeeblerElf – I think highstream is mostly trying to point out that there is more involved with what he did than simply racing under someone else’s bib and him feeling bad about losing the chance to be listed as the winner as most of the other responses have focused on.

    If he was a middle of the pack racer, it wouldn’t have much impact other than being unfair to other skiers who wanted in but couldn’t get in the proper way. In his case, however, he was up in the lead pack throughout the race and won a sprint finish over two other racers. Had he not been there (as he shouldn’t have been which we all agree on), the group dynamics throughout the race would have been different and the sprint finish could have easily played out differently resulting in a different winner. Anyone who races knows there is a difference if you are sprinting to the line with two versus three people as the tactics change. What if he had fallen in the sprint finish and taken out one or two of the others?

  • fifi

    February 28, 2012 at 7:56 pm

    This is nothing more than a friend giving his friend a number to experience the Berkie. These are young adults and they made a mistake. They did not go to a bar, get drunk and then go driving. This is a big lesson in life for them and they will have many more. We should not be too hard on them. They are permitted to make mistakes and learn. Nothing more. Nothing less.

  • mr.gayasaids

    February 28, 2012 at 8:13 pm

    1) It wasn’t just Dubay who was switching bibs, i.e. the rest of the CSS team.
    2) As noted on Twitter: if you’re going to win, don’t cheat.
    3) At least he didn’t fall.

  • devin.arenz

    February 28, 2012 at 8:44 pm

    Wow…what a strange and small world master blasters must live in. The bib was paid for, someone raced in it. Good. Someone fast, better. Fines are paid, rules enforced.
    I am just glad to see this talented kid race again and it appears in photo so are his competitors, including Vegard Ulvang, chairman of the FIS (rules boss) yes? Bigger world view suggested to some.

  • D. Diehl

    February 28, 2012 at 8:48 pm

    Highstream as you like to point out to others frequently “you’re in over your head”. Let it be.

  • nordicguy

    February 28, 2012 at 9:00 pm

    I know that the master skiers on here think that the Birkie is the culmination and pinnacle of the sport but for most of us who have delved further than the Midwest with sport we understand that the Birkie classic is cool but not that big of a deal.

    Joe Dubay won another kind of big event, Finnish Junior Nationals
    David Chamberlain won the overall Supertour twice as well as went to World Champs THREE times
    Vegard Ulvang got screwed, this was the biggest race of his life.

    This race isn’t as big as of a deal as you all think it is and some kid who beat some old dudes made a little mistake not something to rant like Highstream about. Get over it

  • snowcone2go

    February 28, 2012 at 9:10 pm

    The Birkie should find ways to get collegiate skiers into the race (and the elite wave) not keep them out….But this means that more old dudes will be beaten! Why don’t you old dudes just allow X number of college men into your elite wave–even at the “last minute” Or are you scared? And how about a price break, too? Don’t we have an obligation to grow the sport?

  • donpollari

    February 28, 2012 at 9:21 pm

    Jah, it’s not that big of a deal. A bad choice and poor form – professing to not realize what would ensue if he won seems far fetched though. A thinking fellow who was really hung up on racing in someone else’s bib would pulled out of the race coming into Hayward somewhere. Classy response by Dave Chamberlain. Don’t make it into a master blaster vs. young buck thing. The Birkie is less about winning and losing, more about participation and sportsmanship, I guess some people don’t get that. This transgression pales in comparison to the guy who got on a bus and rode to Hayward then put on his skis and finished.

  • donpollari

    February 28, 2012 at 9:25 pm

    Snowcone, the Birkie cannot grow anymore without compromising the quality of the event. There’s been great skiing conditions in it for several consecutive years now and demand for entry far outstrips supply.

  • jrulseh

    February 28, 2012 at 9:50 pm

    The real question here is:

    How long are Ulvang’s skis???

  • nordicguy

    February 28, 2012 at 9:52 pm

    Well put Devin and Diehl. Great to see Joe having some ski success again and I hope it is the start of bigger things for him.

  • snowcone2go

    February 28, 2012 at 10:15 pm

    donpollari, How many bibs didn’t get used? Are you telling me that letting 25-50 college skiers into the elite wave is going to compromise the event? I think it may improve the quality of the event!

  • nordic_dave

    February 28, 2012 at 10:28 pm

    Tales from a so called Master Blaster……

    Back in the day, that would be the 70’s when I was in college at CU. I loved to run and was also very broke. Sometimes I would “bandit”a race because I had no money ,I didn’t realize it was pregister only or was just going to spectate but felt just too good.
    I inadvertently would win the race. I remember making sure I didn

  • nordic_dave

    February 28, 2012 at 10:38 pm

    Sorry dang iPad is touchy and I’m obviously old.

    Anyway I made sure I didn’t cross the finish line, I knew I won and didn’t need or want the bowling trophy. This happened once at the Boulder Bolder a race bigger than the Birkie. I didn’t win but was up there with the elite international runners.

    I’m glad Joe apologized and knew he did something wrong yet the effort expended to play games with a race bib was foolish. At least back in the day when this old so called “master blaster” bandited a race everyone knew it and I left quickly and unceremoniously.

    Good luck Joe, see you around.

  • Lars

    February 28, 2012 at 10:57 pm

    Dubay isn`T the only one whos made the mistake of competing with someone else’s number. Alsgaard was in registered to run the New York marathon last year, but was prevented from doing so due to injurie and let a friend use his start spot, not realizing this was not allowed.

    So if someone as experience as Alsgaard can make that mistake then maybe Dubay at 21 shud be belied when he says it was a mistake made out of ignorance and not some kind of conspiracy.

  • donpollari

    February 28, 2012 at 11:00 pm

    @snowcone, I think there’s already > 50 extra skiers being put into the elite wave for various reasons. Organizers have to draw the line somewhere and it’s not like it’s hard to get into the race. Yes, it’s rough to be competitive and to be put into a late wave because you haven’t done the race before. That’s just paying your dues like most everyone else has had to do and it’s a set up that keeps people coming back year after year. With the ceiling now put at 9000 entries the field didn’t fill until November. I heard that the Norwegian Birkie fills in 24 hours!

  • skatevail

    February 28, 2012 at 11:09 pm

    It is good to see that the race organizer and governing body of the sport are the people dealing with this unfortunate situation. On the contrary, a few years back at the Leadville 100 MTB Race, a person was caught using a friend’s race number. The race organizer pressed legal charges. Our DA moved forward with the case and charged this racer! In short, I was not impressed with our DA’s decision making!

  • nexer

    February 29, 2012 at 12:47 am

    There should be a way to transfer your registration. Pay a fee, eat some cheese curds, whatever. In the end it’s people who race, not bibs.

  • Tim Kelley

    February 29, 2012 at 2:29 am

    Guys, you need to get your head out of the details and look at the big picture. Breaking the rules in the Birkiebiener in Wisconsin in front of a Nordic skiing God (Ulvang) is the same as defacing the Koran in Afghanistan in front of an Ayatollah. Birkiemania fundamentalists will never let this kid live down this infamous day of dumbness.

    Nordic_dave: I agree. Nothing new about bandit racing and most bandits don’t a) duke it out with official competitors for the win, b) cross the finish line or c) step on the podium. Bandits usually do what you did – disappear at the end of the race. To do a, b and c above when you know you are banditing means there are some loose wires that need re-soldering.

  • zachhandler

    February 29, 2012 at 7:58 am

    @Tim Kelly – before insulting Joe’s intelligence from the security of your home computer (you’ve never met him and nor have I) at least read the story and get the facts straight. Doesn’t sound like he was duking it out with the officials for the win. Pirating a race, as Nordic Dave is fondly remembering, meant stepping out of the crowd as the gun went off without a race bib on. Joe was racing in a paid for bib.

    Please everyone pick your panties out of your over-tight ass cracks and get on with things.

  • nordicguy

    February 29, 2012 at 8:55 am

    Tim you are being equally as dumb as the guys you were making fun of. It was a paid for bib and personally I would rather see it get used. I would argue that jumping into a race without paying is a dumbass/jerkass move, this instance in my opinion is not.

    I agree with Zach that panties need to come out of cracks because many of you are acting like numb nuts.

  • nordic_dave

    February 29, 2012 at 9:35 am

    I would also like to recognize Santiago Ocariz for his incredible sportsmanship during the Birkie 50k skate. Santi, finished 11th overall, yet late in the race he gave away his pole to Liebsh who had his broken. At first Matt didn’t want it but eventually took it as they both sensed Matt had a chance to go with Tad. Such élan and panache! How many would have done that being in the lead group late in the race? Santi, you rock and I wish you safe passage in your roller ski across America for charity.

  • kjnordic

    February 29, 2012 at 10:16 am

    @donpollari, you’re correct in saying ” I think there’s already > 50 extra skiers being put into the elite wave for various reasons. Organizers have to draw the line somewhere” nearly all of these get in because a race sponsor (Fischer, Salomon, Rossi, etc) brings their athletes to the race; as a college kid who can’t officially be sponsored, you don’t have that chance. Also, the reason Joe didn’t register in November is that as an elite/college racer he likely thought he’d be racing at NCAAs which would preclude his participation in the Birkie. The kid who’s bib he borrowed would have skied the Birkie, but he qualified for the junior national team and wasn’t going to risk doing a 55k a few days before flying out to JOs. I know that as a citizen racer, I could sign up for a race a year ahead of time, but as an elite racer, trying to qualify for junior nationals, NCAAs, World Cup teams, etc, you often don’t know what races you’re going to do more than a couple of weeks before the race. Ask the Tad Elliott and Holly Brooks if they both thought back in November that they’d the racing the Birkie this year, I bet neither of them could have given you a clear-cut answer.

  • teamepokeedsbyn

    February 29, 2012 at 10:29 am

    most important is Ulvang who, at like 50, with full time job, family and carrying 25 pounds or so, was only beat in a sprint after 50k – shows our racers/full-timers what a genetic freak one has to be as a legit WC contenter, and that training will only take one so far. Few will be so lucky, many more will try.

    @tim, go cook hotdogs on your sled, and stop defacing the Koran.

  • samwell

    February 29, 2012 at 10:48 am

    Haters are going to hate. First off, at least he beat a Norwegian, isn’t that what this sport is about, beating as many dudes those red suits as you can? What is holding America back, from progressing in the ski world, is people that say no you can’t. Also, if it wasn’t for this “punk” kid, who knows if the finish would have been as exhilarating. You cannot tell me that it is more exciting, for two older men to ski it into the finish, than to have three men, one young and getting his groove back, and the other two, older men that are still in great shape−one a Norwegian “God”−duking it out for a sprint finish. Also, highstream I bet you anything that you have never been anywhere close to being in shoes that Joe has been in, neither has anyone else that says he should have stopped before the finish line, because when there are some 20,000 spectators and your flying down main street, the thought of stopping would never cross your mind. Tim Kelley, to compare this to defacing the Qur’an is illegitimate because not racing and letting birkiemania slip bib by bib would be even worse in front of Ulvang. Joe has over 30 other posts on fasterskier about being on top of the podium, and how many do you have, 0. With that being said, you should have more respect for the kid than to insult him. Second off, have you ever met him, Joe is one of the coolest and most sincere kids I have ever had, so before you dis his intelligence, give him a call and get to know him, so that you don’t have to create more drama than a prepubescent middle school girl. So you need to get your “head out of the details” and realize that Joe was the fastest one out there no matter what bib he had on. It is bad enough that he got disqualified and fined, but to rip on a kid that loves the sport for what it is, after going out and skiing the fastest time, you have to be kidding me. Look at that smile^, do you know what is behind that smile? I am not saying what he did was right, but that is why he got fined and disqualified, but to chop at his knees like this, is a nonsensical notion. I say congrats to all and perhaps he wasn’t thinking clearly because he had a fever…

  • davord

    February 29, 2012 at 12:19 pm

    It was close, but I went with “a cross country skier who didn’t feel like selling a kidney to enter a ski race.” Congrats to Joe for winning the race! No matter how you slice the Wisconsin cheese, the dude was first across the line. Apart from wearing another person’s bib, what did he do wrong? Ok, that’s illegal, we get that, but he paid for it afterwards (literally), he apologized and understood what he did and will probably never do it again. Everyone moved up a place, nobody was physically hurt, he didn’t push, punch, bite, scratch, he didn’t Fus Ro Duh or go Ndamukong Suh on anyone and I assume he didn’t use any Edgar Allan Poe. Plus, standing on top of the podium, shaking hands with a living legend?? How SICK is that?! WICKED SICK

  • Roger Sayre

    February 29, 2012 at 12:33 pm

    Thanks for the entertainment this morning from an old masterblaster. I even recognize a couple of you from days past. Hi to D. Diehl from the NE and Devin from the MW; nordicdave, we probably crossed paths in CO.

    ummm, no doubt he made a mistake, but owned up to it, was DQ’d, and payed an entry “fine” and some of you want MORE sanctions?

    Wow maybe take away his scholarship/aid, 300 hr of community service, and stick him in the “stocks” (a ski rack at next year’s Birkie), where he’d be publicly flogged with a set of One Way poles by the Norwegian ski team. Would that slake your thirst for justice and revenge?

    It’s a good lesson and I mentioned it to kids I coach, don’t ever do that.

    But sheesh, get over it.

  • kwikgren

    February 29, 2012 at 1:30 pm

    Vegard Ulvang was clearly the winner of this event, as was Bjorn Daehlie a couple of years ago. No, they did not have the fastest times in the race, but I doubt that was a real big deal for these guys. From what I heard, Vegard was having fun out there, and from the look of the podium shot appeared to be sincerely proud of the younger skier’s accomplishment. Vegard and Bjorn, in my opinion the two greatest cross country skiers of all time, came to ski this event to raise awareness of the need to find a cure for M.S. For this I am very proud of these legendary athletes as my own mother died from M.S. complications several years ago. Her strength in the difficult struggle with this debilitating disease has been my inspiration to always hang in there when the going gets tough.

    Fact: Vegard Ulvang and Bjorn Daehlie are two of the greatest skiers of all time.

    Fact: No one else in the 10,000 skier field can make that claim.

    Fact: Vegard’s skis do look long!

  • caldxski

    February 29, 2012 at 1:42 pm

    Another controversy crops up. First there’s the Koos affair at the Nationals and now Dubay at the Birkie. They say any PR is good PR and that may be true, especially if there are lessons to be learned.

    Here in the US, our rule-making, our officiating, our outlook toward “infractions,” is very much by the book. Any bunch of good rules (take the FIS rules for xc as an example) is as short as practical and has a slush clause, or some escape clauses to cover difficult situations, often leaving a tricky decision up to the jury.

    When we operate by rules that try to cover every possible situation, and when we have over-zealous officials, it’s easy to get disqualifications. The justification is there in black and white and leaves no room for argument, no room for imaginative or creative solutions. It’s

    I’ll never forget the McGill Carnival in the late ‘40’s when one skier took a wrong turn in the xc and finished going the wrong direction, much to the consternation of the officials. They consulted with Jack-Rabbit Johansen, who was chief of course (and 75 years old). Jack-Rabbit said just a minute, got the errant racer and skied with him to the turn where he went wrong and then told him to race in again, the wrong way. So did Jack-Rabbit, but he went the right way. They arrived at the finish together and Jack-Rabbit said, give him his time, he did not gain anything. In today’s atmosphere the skier would most likely have been disqualified.

    In Europe, Koos would not have been disqualified this year for his move in the sprints at the National Championships. So, a good question is this: Will the international set get more strict and in line with our interpretations here in the US? Not very likely! And you can take that to the bank.

    I think we have to be more careful to put values on many situations and balance disqualifications with organizer errors or strange procedures and then ease up a bit on the racers.

    I TD’d the Birkie once and just before the start a conscientious official came up to me with his templates for measuring logos on race suits. It was during the days when we were obsessed with taping over logos that were too big. (Duct tape sales spiked in the northern US that year.) I looked at the official and asked him if these too-large logos would make the racers go faster. He said no and I said let ‘em go, then. I am not sure the logo rule was ever enforced at a tour race in Europe. But we had several situations in the US where it was happily enforced.

    That same year, at the Birkie, it was very cold and we had a jury meeting before the start to see when we would proceed. The medical rep on the jury called in from a heated office downtown and said to go ahead. Indeed! The vote was to start on time and I couldn’t help thinking about a serious frostbite problem and the repercussions that might occur for running the race in temps too cold. Switiching bibs pales in comparison to a worst case scenario here.

    Same year, same race, and after the start I drove to the finish. Checking around I saw that the finish camera was not properly placed and so I moved it beyond the actual finish line. The chief of finish came by soon after, asked someone who moved his camera, then moved it back so it was right in line with the finish. I told him the rules specified otherwise and he responded that that was the way they always did it. Well, yeah. A close finish, with the skier closest to the camera, splaying his feet, legs or body and obscuring the other skier’s lead foot, would have made the proper decision impossible. So, how would this compare to a bib switcher?

    Same race, same day, the so-called classic track was obliterated a few minutes after the start by the skaters and in my report I said it was a charade to offer a classic race in those circumstances.

    These items all went into my TD report and I have not been invited back. Haha.

    At that time, the organization of the BIrkie had their own rules and procedures and that was that. I trust things have improved and perhaps next they will cut down on all the complicated rules–fines of $150?–and run something more in line with international standards, where the athletes are not the object of over-eager officials looking for disqualifications and the top racers get a better chance for a good bib number.

    I am not saying Dubay’s result should have stood. But, he did ski the fastest time and no rule will change that. He fell victim to the existing procedures.

    John Caldwell

  • kjnordic

    February 29, 2012 at 1:56 pm

    My master-blaster observation: Vegard’s skis look very long in front of the binding. The tails look the same length as Chambo’s skis, but the tips are crazy long! Discuss…

  • Xaphoon

    February 29, 2012 at 2:08 pm


    Literally bros, its not that big of a deal, give the kid a break. I am sure he is a smart dude, that trains hard and just wanted to have some fun racing the Birkie. No point in letting a perfectly good bib go to waste.

  • skiarrhea

    February 29, 2012 at 2:40 pm

    Attention Master Blasters of the Midwest:
    Get over yourselves.

    To race organizers everywhere: Let this be a lesson regarding what happens when broke-ass, elite college skiers are forced to decide in, early November, whether they would like to spend $100+ to enter a ski race that they more than likely will not even be able to participate in.

    To the College of Saint Scholastica: Keep livin’ the dream.

    Collegiate Skiers Everywhere

  • Tim Kelley

    February 29, 2012 at 3:08 pm

    Overall – I think Dubay should be thanked for awakening the fasterskier blog posters. It’s been too quiet on FS over the last few months. It’s basically been dead since the Koos DQ. It’s always entertaining when the pot is being stirred and FS posters go into a tizzy! Hopefully the wait won’t be as long for the next FS blog-smackdown! Until then …

  • nordic_dave

    February 29, 2012 at 3:51 pm

    Thanks Tim, yeah we even got JC into it but Marty hasn’t commented ….yet.

    Personally, I can’t wait to meet Joe, I probably already did since I was at the same hotel in West Yellowstone and them Scholastica kids who seemed like great kids with an excellent coach. Little did I know these same Scholastica kids from Duluth could be so diabolical.

    Not sure where the generational slams are going, I kind’ve think it’s funny when college kids make stereotypical broad brush comments and complain about the cost of their educational enlightenment & can’t afford the entry fee all in one breath. God forbid IF these same commenters have their parents paying for anything or I’m going to bust out laughing hard. Good luck sporting the same attitude looking for a job once you have been completely enlightened with your college degree.

  • donpollari

    February 29, 2012 at 4:13 pm

    I think college skiers need to OCCUPY whatever authorities are scheduling their ski season in conflict with the Birkie and demand to have the third weekend in February off!

    OCCUPY BIRKIE 2013!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • mmmasterblaster

    February 29, 2012 at 5:29 pm

    Have we had enough yet? Mistake made, punishment meted out, let’s give it a rest.

    I know Joe, he’s a good guy, hopefully he’ll be back again in a couple of years and do it the right way. For now let’s just call him the “Emporer of Hayward”.

    Finally, the Elite Wave is something everyone should have to earn their way into. Master Blaster and College student alike.

    Masterblaster -31 Birkies and counting

  • Ben Arians

    February 29, 2012 at 5:39 pm

    Holy shit! Gotta be some kind of record for commenting on Fasterskier! Come on, everybody, let’s put it out of reach! More commenting!

  • teamepokeedsbyn

    February 29, 2012 at 6:06 pm

    And even holy-er shit…The Man, JC, remebers McGill carnivals AND hung with The Jack Rabbit!

    Before you 20-30 year old guys go busitn’ on Tim Kelley’s street cred., they should check their (not easily available online) stats. The guy was the real deal, U.S. Team member (not just junior team), top results at nats., at a time when the top 3 at Nats all had top 10 finishes in WC distance races – not the case anymore. He made many a Lake Placid and MN “local heros” weep in his day. Not bad for a Koran-burning ski-guitar-slinging redneck from VT.

  • davord

    February 29, 2012 at 6:23 pm

    Nordic Dave, that’s a great story about the CXC teammates! Talk about sacrificing your own race and showing respect to your teammate!! Respect to Santiago (don’t know him personally, so I won’t use the shortened version of his name) for that AND for doing a charity!! Rollerskiing across America to help out a charity?! AWESOME

  • nordic_dave

    February 29, 2012 at 7:00 pm

    Yah geez, while I have everyone’s rapt attention:



    Actually Matt is no longer with CXC but still considered “family”. Santi just did it because that is the type of guy he is.

    I’m part of CXC but live in Park City just because I think these CXC athletes are so dang cool, my house is the CXC Western Training Center as these CXC kids are always welcome there. Some might think it is a bit better than Telemark, oops sorry Yuri 😉

    Always fun to having generations helping generations to build our sport btw….

  • Flying Fungi from Yuggoth

    February 29, 2012 at 7:01 pm

    If we can get back to the real matter, Vegard’s Skis. I think what’s going on is that they appear longer because they are closer to the camera angle.. He also appears to be holding his skis out in front of him, classic fisherman’s photo trick.

    Of secondary importance is bib switching. Clearly there needs to be an awareness campaign. What’s Lance up to these days?

  • Martin Hall

    February 29, 2012 at 7:17 pm

    Lots of rhetoric, my gosh!—BUT, it is the racers responsibility to know the rules and follow them—he/she break them, they are disqualified—these rules are from the FIS and the Birkie organizers—case closed.
    Oh!!! what the heck—lets have all 9400 skiers take a short cut—that’s how simple it could be—right??

  • AnonAmos

    February 29, 2012 at 8:06 pm

    Well, as usual, so far, the oldest guy here provides the best stories and the most insight.
    Sorta like Ron Paul …heh, heh.
    As to Joe Dubay, for all of you wondering, “What was he thinking?”, try a little psychoanalysis. Assess his current environment, Scholastica(I can’t help you there). And assess his formative environment, Coon Rapids, MN. I can assure you that being rule and directionally challenged is a cultural hallmark of that place.
    So there you go . Think about it.

  • matiasalaska

    February 29, 2012 at 8:07 pm

    Enough already about ripping Dubay.
    The Birkie officials certainly could’ve handled the situation better as well. Instead of sending Dubay off to the podium ceremony and press conference, they should have postponed it until sorting the matter out.
    And even if the kid made a mistake he deserved to be told of the DQ in person instead of learning about it hours later by looking at the results. (Same goes for the other podium members; perhaps this happened though).

  • skitowin

    February 29, 2012 at 9:55 pm

    jrwessling or should I say Kirk Leach… I take it you have been in Joe’s shoes. Do I smell another CSS bib switch/controversy?

  • norbaker

    February 29, 2012 at 11:30 pm

    I think what it comes down to is Joe’s motive. He clearly forced Chris Parr into registering for him so he could sneak under the radar and into the first wave. This plan has been in the works for months..
    Really though, Joe was not trying to cheat by taking the bib. He was not trying to get by without paying the registration fee. He was like most frugal college students, sharing and trading with his college teammate. Unfortunately sharing a bib and winning is not a good idea in such a big race. He had a lapse of judgement, as do all of us. I would have probably done the same for a good friend if they paid quite a bit for a race. And if at the end I had the chance to beat 2 great skiers, I would have taken it too! He gave those 2 old guys a great race. What’s a race without great competition and surprises?

    Maybe the real problem needs to be addressed. The registration needs to change. There has to be a way where you can opt out and get some money back, say Dec./Jan., and more spots can open up online for people who decide later on and then pay a higher late registration fee. Basically people are giving their bibs away for a reason, they dont want the bib to go without a skier. Let’s fix the bigger problems at hand instead of addressing the outcome of the problem. Please make it easier for people to register later on and for people to get refunded if plans have changed!

  • sir blasts a lot

    February 29, 2012 at 11:41 pm

    Everyone knows that the underlying issue is that Joe Dubay is in college. He obviously isn’t a motivated skier because he did not decide to opt out of higher education, a good chance at starting a fruitful profession at a young and reasonable age, and a good opportunity to continue and develop his ski career in a team atmosphere with at least some degree of funding. I mean really, if he had opted out of college, we probably wouldn’t even be discussing anything since he would be off racing world cups, as the U.S. ski team bureaucracy implies.

    Also, if you want to see another good blasting, check out the comments on the article about Bodensteiner.

  • mwbirkieskier228

    March 1, 2012 at 1:56 am

    It would be nice to change the way registration works but that isn’t as simple as it sounds. You would not believe the amount of work that Birkie employees put into this event. Adding another last minute component would take up that much more time that the Birkie does not have. These employees are literally up all the night before the Birkie. Sometimes life just isn’t fair and we have to live with it.

    As far as Joe Dubay and the other St. Scholatsica skier go, they’re young, give them a break. Making jabs at them now to make yourself feel more superior isn’t going to help anything. Don’t pretend you’ve never made a mistake. Just because their mistakes were made public doesn’t mean they’re horrible people. They were just college kids that wanted to take part in an amazing event.

    Tim Kelley don’t be so jealous of their youth #prick

  • nordic_dave

    March 1, 2012 at 8:04 am

    This article hit it’s intended nerve but now that it is about name calling not much is happening in terms of actual news. Love the long winded explanations attempting to defend an indefensible position. Actually it’s others besides Joe doing this, we know he’s a good kid who could use a break right now.

    Hmm, I wonder what Carolyn Ocariz is doing right now? You know her right? The Women’s Classic Birkie Champ? Actually out doing something very noble and good. I wonder if it ever becomes news here at FS? I wish it could generate so many comments but we know it won’t cuze the trashy stuff is soo much better.

  • nordicguy

    March 1, 2012 at 9:11 am

    Dave don’t get holier than thou now after you were on here mucking just as much crap.
    Hopefully she is getting ready for US Nats, an event that really is a big deal if you are a pro skier.
    News flash, being the Birkie Classic champ isn’t exactly the pinnacle of achievement in this sport. It’s been won by plenty of master skiers who are past their prime. Point being let’s get past this concept that the Birkie is the end all be all of skiing.

  • kjnordic

    March 1, 2012 at 9:38 am

    @mmmasterblaster, you say “Finally, the Elite Wave is something everyone should have to earn their way into. Master Blaster and College student alike.” How do you propose that someone “earn” their way into the Elite wave? Following the current system based on the previous year’s results? I think access to the race for elite (or pretty damn fast) skiers is part of the issue here.

  • nordic_dave

    March 1, 2012 at 10:15 am

    Oh sorry, like Davord just trying to move on to something more positive. Carolyn is skipping Distance Nationals if that’s what you meant and roller skiing across America for the Food for the Poor. Last I checked Senior Nationals was in Jan. and Junior Natls, next week, whoo hoo !

    The Birkie is almost a religion in Wisconsin, when there I usually try to blend into the Northern Wisconsin carnival atmosphere. So do a ton of other people.

    Since you don’t know what I do for international cross country ski racing, I’ll just smile. My apologies to Joe if I had too much fun at his expense as I have allowed I also did stupid things in college, as noted with fond memory.

  • nordicguy

    March 1, 2012 at 1:40 pm

    No Dave , I know what you do for the sport and I think it’s great. The sport in the US would be in deep financial trouble if it was for you and the foundation. Yes, you and NNF are important and I am happy to donate. I would like to think that all of us who donate are helping international skiing.
    Last I checked Distance Nationals was in the spring. As in 30/50km Championship race, http://www.nensa.net/calendar/index.html?id=1203
    I probably went overboard on my previous comment just bugged me that suddenly you were above the other commentators when you had been doing the same thing. I apologize.

  • nordic_dave

    March 1, 2012 at 4:21 pm

    nordicguy, thanks for donating!

  • bigski

    March 1, 2012 at 5:01 pm

    Most people writing have never been in the position to win at the Birkie so trying to put yourself in the postition as Joe is not as easy as you think. Perhaps people could put themselves in the “have I ever done something stupid on a race day?’ I am pretty sure most successful athletes and coaches can think of something. While I supposed he should be subjected to some penalty, like a finnish sauna with some of the biggest loser contestants. We will just have to settle for a mistake made on race day. While some countries must celebrate their nordic heros no matter if they doped or are incredibly arrogant, we must settle for a skier who did not register under the correct bib. I am sure Vegard would give up a medal or two to move up on the Birkie podium a little higher. Tisk tisk!

  • jacquesdn

    March 1, 2012 at 7:41 pm

    @kjnordic @mmmasterblaster If only the Birkie would stick to their guns and make everyone earn their start rights by doing their first Birke from the back, we wouldn’t have to worry about Olympic medalists like Vegard Ulvang and Bjorn Daehlie showing up and stealing the glory.

  • billyd

    March 1, 2012 at 8:04 pm

    Fascinating noggin leakage here.. I do sense a touch of animosity towards the Birkie; patently unfair, uncalled for, and totally bush league. The Birkie, nor its organizers, board, or executive management have done anything wrong here – this was laid at their feet by JD (and his buddy) doing what they did. And what they did was wrong, but the problem was not when JD crossed the finish line.

    He is a ski racer, and clearly loves his sport and competition – I say bravo! Good for him! ! JD did what came naturally once he was engaged in the event. For that, I simply cannot blame him. I have won races (not skiing), finished second and top 5’s, and when you’re in it that deeply in the heat of battle it is totally understandable that confusion would not surface about his seemingly inconsequential bib until after he crossed the line… Anyone with any sense of racing, who has ever run, biked, or skied at the sharp end know this clearly. We all reveled in his ability to beat Ulvang and Chamberlain. Heck, i’m buyin next time I see him in the Sawmill for cryin out loud!

    No, where the mistake was made was before the race when the discussion took place regarding using a bib not registered to him. He and his friend knew this was bush-league, it is beyond credible to believe otherwise – it was purposeful. That’s where this is an issue for some (and to a sizable degree, myself). It is one of fundamental respect for the event; the hundreds of volunteers, man-hours, fund raising, management, the tens of thousands of hours and years of commitment to this sport of xc skiing, and its rules of fair play, that this race tries very hard to represent. To those of us who revel in the history and absolute place of honor that the Birkie has clearly earned in this great sport, we have to take a pause when we see something like this happen. And we do because we respect it, and honor its rules and history. Call that old fashioned if you like, but this needs its attention too in this matter.

    Consider Dave Landgraf – a guy I competed against in not just skiing (where he always kicked my butt), but in triathlons and running events over the years. Dave was a man of integrity and honor when it came to competition; we saw many hats proclaiming “ski like Dave” this year at the Birkie. From my direct experience with him he would have never done anything like this. The reason? He revered, honored, and respected this event. He took it very seriously, and understood implicitly what it means to the sport and to those who have been involved in it for almost 40 years now.

    No, this is fundamentally a matter of an expedient lapse in character. And yes, we can and should wipe it away as such; a rather foolish move by an immature young adult certainly deserving of another chance. I respect JD for racing his heart out and the killer instinct he displayed to win. I take issue with him on his respect for the Birkie, its rules of fair play, its history over 39 years, and the well over 100,000 racers, like Dave Landgraf, who have graced this great event…

    I say let’s all learn a little here. Let’s give JD the benefit of the doubt this year (one can only imagine the dude’s taken enough already), but let’s also commit to honoring this race, its history, its commitment and contribution to the sport, and the incredible efforts put forth to put on a world class event in Northern Wisconsin for what will be 40 years next February..

  • nordic_dave

    March 1, 2012 at 11:47 pm

    70 comments whoa! Lol….

    It definitely speaks to the sanctity of the Birkie, ya yoo betcha!
    It was my tenth this year, raced it sick with a head cold wasn’t a great result, guess I gotta come back next year. Birkie Fever !

    In the meantime I have a proposal, everyone passionate about this event, we go to the Sawmill Bar Saturday night, as usual, but we streak (run nekid) from the bar towards Double 00. Suitably stupid at the right time for the right cause.

    Of course all proceeds to NNF.

  • donpollari

    March 2, 2012 at 9:06 am

    @BillyD, – well said.

  • billydemong

    March 2, 2012 at 9:17 am

    Although I would love to take owership of the comment by billyd I can not. I will say I agree with him in most of his discourse to the effect that we do what we do because we love the challenge and the heat of battle. I will neither confirm nor deny having “ghost” raced some events of various disciplines when proper registration evaded me. But at the end of the day if you want the result to stand and the race to be true you have do it on the books. Otherwise you need to steer clear of the folks in it to win it and duck out before the final act.

  • kwikgren

    March 2, 2012 at 9:28 am

    It’s sad to see the negative comments on this website, especially in regard to charities. Yeah, I’m very aware of multiple sclerosis, cancer, and starving people all around the world. Many people claim to be “aware”, but how many are actually willing to make any sacrifice or effort to try to make a difference. A cynic will say that these are all scams, with most of the money going to pay for the celebrity’s trip, with the rest of us schmucks having to work. A more optimistic view would be that if you can get people to pause for just a moment and think of something other than themselves, it could be a step in the right direction. Seemingly small, random acts of kindness can add up to make the world a better place. Personally, I applaud the efforts of those who try to use their celebrity status to do good. They don’t have to do this, they choose to do this.

    The Birkie can be a paradox. On the darkside, it’s a mob of anal retentive wannabees, secretly shoving football-sized EPO suppositories up their butts because that’s what they assume all their heros are secretly doing. A mass of thrashing hacks and a pile of broken poles. The bright side of the Birkie can be seen in the smiling faces of first time or 30 time (fuddy duddies times three) Birkie finishers, the cheering fans, the awesome course, the unsung volunteers and groomers, the legendary Norwegian skiers setting an example of how it can be done while at the same time showing support to a very worthwhile cause, and the exhuberant young athletes who aspire to take it to the next level. I’m hoping that good will prevail.

  • muskegflyer

    March 2, 2012 at 12:32 pm

    I had no idea that there is so much anti-masters sentiment among some of the “younger” skiers. The core of the entries in the Birkie and other mass participation events consists of “masters” age skiers. Many are super competitive and others simply want to participate in an incredible event. The Birkie has grown to its present size and status because of the enthusiastic participation of masters aged skiers. I had an elite wave start for many years and now return to do the race as a less competitive but no less enthusiastic skier.

    To believe the thoughts of some of the posters, it would seem like there is some sort of conspiracy against college age racers – ridiculous! To register – simply do that! It does seem possible to allow for a registered racer to sell their start/bib to another participant but perhaps only allow 1 transfer per original registration.

    I wish this young man all the best – he has real talent and I hope this situation doesn’t hold him back. Despite the negative comments about the Birkie classic being a bit of a joke, at least its done in the traditional style as is the Canadian version of the race. Oh yea, you also can carry a back pack signifying the weight of the saved child.

  • T.Eastman

    March 2, 2012 at 12:40 pm

    I would urge the Birkie Foundation and the organization representing the upper-Midwest colleges with XC ski teams to work out a start protocol for college racers. It could be a limited number of entries guaranteeing elite starts and the roster could be posted the week before the race. Though the college racers in the Birkie are generally the ones that are not tracking for the NCAAs, the Birkie could be part of the racers’ development.

    The situation regarding bib swapping appears to be an outgrowth of the early and costly entry requirements that are nearly impossible for college racers to meet without a high potential of not making the event.

    The Birkie is a huge deal to organize and any changes in entry protocol require lots of planning to assure the change is fair to the other competitors and does not further complicate the registration system.

    Joe highlighted a problem that has existed for the college racers in the upper-Midwest since I can remember. Adding some of these men and women to the elite waves would only improve the fields.

    Solving this issue will take an enormous amount of effort by all involved to get it right. You decide if it is worth the effort…

  • billyd

    March 2, 2012 at 5:10 pm

    @billydemong.. appreciate the kind comment. Btw – round-about howdy from JimmyD (Ft Collins/Steamboat).. Great guy, miss Laura too – we had to move away from the area.. Good luck this year!!!

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