Birkie Warriors & Inga Contest Winners Announced

American BirkebeinerDecember 20, 2012
Chris Lawn (ABSF photo)

Congratulations to Chris Lawn, Tom Lawn, and Lori House!

Please join the American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation in congratulating the winners of the 2013 Birkie Warriors & Inga Contest. The three cross country skiers will re-enact the 800-year-old legend that inspired the creation of the American Birkebeiner, now celebrating its 40th year. Your 2013 team is Chris Lawn, of Madison, WI; Tom Lawn, of Plymouth, WI; and Lori House, of Madison, WI.

Lori House

See photos of the winners on the Birkie Warriors & Inga page at

The roles of the two Warriors, Torstein and Skervald, will be played by long-time Birkie skiers Chris and Tom Lawn (Tom is Chris’s dad). These two historic warriors rescued Prince Haakon during the Norwegian Civil War in 1206. Lori House, also a capable and passionate skier, will take on the role of Queen Inga from Varteig, mother of Prince Haakon and a legendary figure in her own right.

Up for the Challenge

The contest winners were carefully selected by judges who know exactly what it takes to ski 54 kilometers in full Warrior and Inga costumes while encouraging their fellow skiers along the trail. Each year, those judges are none other than the two groups of skiers who took on these roles the previous two years.

Tom Lawn

Strong Skiing Experience

Each group that enters the contest submits information about how many Birkies they have skied, how many they have skied Classic, and what their times were. They also submit a short essay about their team members. People write about all sorts of things–family traditions, strong friendships made closer by skiing, Norwegian connections, and just their love of cross country skiing and the Birkie. It is a big commitment to ski the full Birkie Classic race on wooden skis while wearing period costumes. Entries must demonstrate the group’s skiing ability plus their enthusiasm for taking on these roles.

Chris Lawn has skied 17 Birkies and 5 Kortes, with five out of the last five Birkies skied Classic. Tom Lawn has skied 27 Birkies, with four out of the last five skied Classic. Lori House has skied 3 Birkies and 1 Korte, with all three Birkies skied Classic. They showed fast finish times in these races.

The Warriors ski the entire Birkie. Inga may choose to ski the Birkie or shift to the Kortelopet to encourage skiers on that race course. She would then rejoin the Warriors for the final finish up Hayward’s Main Street. This year the Warriors & Inga will make their entrance onto Main Street, Hayward, early to mid-afternoon to the cheers of thousands of spectators lining the street.

A Story of Family, Friends, and Birkie Tradition

Here is the entry essay provided by Chris Lawn for this group:

“The American Birkebeiner has been a long standing tradition in our family. My parents Tom and Sue learned to ski when they were new parents. My brother, sister and I grew up looking forward to the Birkie each and every year. My Dad and I, along with our family, have never missed a Birkie since we first each toed the line 28 and 18 years ago. Now as a father of 5, I have continued the tradition with my family. We also will have 4 of our 5 children participating in the Barnebirkie in 2013. Every year our children look forward to meeting the Birkie Warriors. They are a symbol of a long-standing tradition, and we would love to re-enact their heroic journey. Our 5th child Kiersten was born this past July – what an honor it would be to have 3 generations of our family skiing down Main Street the day of the Birkie. We have both had some fantastic races over the years, but would love to stride the course on our wooden skis and cheer our fellow racers on!

“Through skiing we have met so many fantastic people and our dear friend Lori and her family are some of them. Lori, a mother of 3, would make a great Inga. She is newer to skiing than my dad and I, but has also started the Birkie tradition with her family. For the past few years we have made the Barnebirkie a tradition that we do together as families. It has been so fun watching our children grow each year together and hope we are instilling a lifelong love for Nordic skiing in each of them. It means so much to see them all skiing down the same Main Street that a few days later we will also be skiing down.

“Nordic skiing is a very important part of all of our families. It is a passion that we hope our children will always want to be a part of and that we strive to pass it on to others. Tom spearheaded beginner lessons during his tenure as president of the North Kettle Moraine Nordic Ski Club in Greenbush, and my wife and I oversee the Nordic Kids program at Blackhawk Ski Club in Madison, where Lori’s children also participate.

“This is a once in a lifetime experience that we would love to share with our families. We hope for it to become our favorite Birkie memory! We would be honored if you would please consider us for the Warriors and Inga! We promise to do our best to carry on this awesome tradition!”

Origins of the Warriors & Inga Legend

The two Viking warriors were called “Birkebeiners” for the protective birch bark leggings they wore. They skied more than 50 kilometers through Norway’s rugged mountains and forested terrain, smuggling the infant son of King Syverresson and Inga of Vartieg from Lillehammer to safety in the town of Trondheim.

The rescued prince became one of the most popular kings in Norwegian history, and the Birkebeiner soldiers became a Norwegian symbol of courage, perseverance, and character in the face of adversity.

On race day, the two Birkie Warriors and Inga will leave the start gate with the Elite Wave skiers. The rest of the 10,000 skiers will follow every five minutes in alternating skating and classic wave starts. The Warriors and Inga expect to see the majority of those skiers at one time or another along the trail throughout the morning and early afternoon.“They’ll not only re-enact the historic rescue, they’ll inspire 10,000 other skiers, 2,000 volunteers, and more than 15,000 spectators from around the world,” said Ned Zuelsdorff, Executive Director of the American Birkebeiner. “The reaction of seeing the very origin of our event come to life like this is hard to put into words. The Warriors and Inga are one of the highlights of this event for everyone.”

Learn more about the Birkie Warrior & Inga Contest at

For more information, email or call 715-634-5025.

American Birkebeiner

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