Annual Birkie Warrior and Inga Contest Open for Entries

American BirkebeinerNovember 11, 2013

(Press Release) 

(Photo: Darlene Prois)
Birkebeiner Warriors and Inga (Photo: Darlene Prois)

Re-enact historic ski of the original “Birkebeiners” at this year’s Birkie! 

The annual Birkie Warrior & Inga Contest is now open for entries! The American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation (ABSF) is searching for three cross country skiers to depict the two Birkebeiner Warriors and Inga, the mother of baby Prince Haakon, at this year’s 41st annual American Birkebeiner ski race. Each year a trio is selected to ski the 54 kilometer journey from Cable to Hayward, WI, re-enacting–on wooden skis and in full costume–the historic rescue of the prince more than 800 years ago. This year’s American Birkebeiner ski race takes place on Saturday, February 22, 2014.


The deadline for entires is November 30

Winning group will be announced on December 15

The Role of the Warriors and Inga at Birkie 2014

The group of three skiers selected will dress in authentic period clothing and ski on wooden skis to depict the historic event (see “A Brief History” below). They will also serve as ambassadors on the trail, encouraging skiers along the way. On race day the two Warriors ski the entire 54K Classic Birkie race course. Inga may choose to ski either the same 54K Classic or cut off to ski the 23K Kortelopet course. Either way, she will re-join the Warriors to Ski the final two blocks up Main Street to the finish line.

The group will also make appearances at other events during Birkie race week, like Thursday’s Welcome Ceremony on Main Street and the Barnebirkie children’s event earlier that day.

A Brief History

The two Viking warriors being portrayed, Torstein and Skervald, were called “Birkebeiners” for the protective birch bark leggings they wore. They skied more than 50 kilometers through rugged mountains and forested terrain to smuggle the infant son of King Syverresson and Inga of Vartieg from Lillehammer, Norway, to safety in the town of Trondheim, during the Norwegian Civil War.

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.

This historic rescue inspired the creation of three ski marathons: The Birkebeinerrennet in Lillehammer, Norway, launched in 1932 and skied on the same route as the famous rescue; the American Birkebeiner, launched in 1973 when the late Tony Wise looked to his Norwegian roots to create a high-profile event for Telemark, his ski lodge in Cable, Wisconsin; and the Canadian Birkebeiner, launched in 1985 in Alberta, Canada.

“The re-enactment has become a great tradition that our skiers, volunteers, and spectators look forward to every year,” says Ben Popp, Executive Director of the American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation. “It’s a great way to experience the ultimate in Birkie Fever!”

Special Benefits of Skiing as the Warriors and Inga:

  • A Free Entry the Following Year: Each winner will also receive a free 2015 Birkie or Korte race entry.
  • Race Credit: If you ski as either a Warrior or Inga, you will receive full credit for completing the race.
  • The Experience of a Lifetime! Our past Warriors and Ingas tell us over and over again that skiing the Birkie in these historic roles is one of their most cherished experiences. Part of that, they say, is the feeling on the trail, encouraging other skiers and being part of the Birkie in a whole new way. Sking on traditional wooden skis and taking on the roles of these characters that brought the first Birkie into being has added a whole other dimension to their Birkie experience.



1. Form a group of two Warriors and an Inga
2. Complete the Online Entry Form – Click Here
3. As part of that form, describe why the members of your group are qualified to ski as the Warriors, Torstein (TOR-stine) and Skervald (SHER-vol), and Inga

Entries must first demonstrate your skiing ability then your passion, sense of tradition, and why skiing in these roles is important to each of you.

The American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation will supply the Warrior and Inga costumes. Each skier must supply his or her own wooden skis. You may but do not need to provide a young child to portray the baby Prince Haakon, to be carried by one of the Warriors or Inga the two blocks up Main Street to the finish.

The deadline for entires is November 30

The judges for this year’s contest will be the Warriors and Inga winners from 2012 and 2013 Birkies. The winning group will be announced on December 15, 2013.

A Look Back

Past Five Birkie Warriors:

2013:  Chris Lawn, Madison, WI, and Tom Lawn, Plymouth, WI
2012:  Darald Bothun and Barry Knapp, both from Rochester, MN
2011:  Gale Otterholt and Marv Franson, both from Eau Claire, WI
2010:  Brothers David Nelson, Medicine Lake, MN, and Grant Nelson, Duluth, MN, skied
the re-enactment as a family with David’s wife, Josie, as Inga and their son Karl
as the Prince
2009:  Jeff Cummisford, Waukesha, WI, and best friend, Richard Pierce, Verona, WI
2008:  Brothers Thom Gerst, Coon Rapids, MN, and Gary Gerst, Maple Grove, MN

Past Five Birkie Inga and Baby Prince Haakon:

2013:  Lori House, Madison, WI, and baby Keirsten Lawn (Chris’s daughter)
2012:  Kristin Bothun, Mankato, MN, daughter of Warrior Bothun, and Nikolai Fornear
2011:  Gretchen Lindgren, St. Cloud, MN, and her grandchild Finnley
2010:  Josie Nelson, Medicine Lake, MN, and son Karl
2009:  Lyndsey Lewis, Fort Collins, CO, and son Piercen
2008:  Gail Moede Rogall, Madison, WI, and son Bjorn

Photo: Darlene Prois
2013 Contest Winners (Photo: Darlene Prois)

American Birkebeiner

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