Birkie Announces Weather-Related Course Change

FasterSkierFebruary 20, 2017
The 44th annual 2017 American Birkebeiner events won’t be finishing in downtown Hayward this year after a warm-weather spell and rain in the forecast have made for unstable conditions on Lake Hayward in Wisconsin. The Birkie will likely be held on a modified course this coming Saturday, Feb. 26. (Photo: ABSF)

On Monday, the American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation (ABSF) announced via a press release it will be adjusting the race course for Birkie events, set to take place this week in Hayward, Wis., due to “recent above average temperatures, along with continued warm weather conditions and rain forecast for today.”

“After this weekend’s warm weather, Lake Hayward is no longer a viable option for race week,” the press release stated. “As part of a normal race, skiers would ski across Lake Hayward before entering downtown Hayward. Without Lake Hayward, there is no longer a possibility of finishing races in downtown Hayward. Given this decision, the International Bridge that normally spans Highway 63, will not be installed for Birkie week events this year. While snow is in the forecast for later this week, a downtown finish is no longer a feasible option for 2017 events.

Birkie Weather Impact History:

1981 – Elites only race 6 laps around 8K track around Mt. Telemark due to weather
1981 – Snow arrives two weeks late, citizen skiers complete Birkie race on March 7th
1983 – Open water on Lake Hayward, race is started on Duffy’s Field (Race direction Hayward to Cable)
1984 – Due to lack of snow, race is started on Duffy’s Field (Race direction Hayward to Cable)
1985 – Due to lack of snow, race is started at Rosie’s Field (Race direction Hayward to Cable)
1991 – Due to Lack of snow, race is started at Rosie’s Field, ironically, 8” of snow fell the morning of the race (Race direction Hayward to Cable)
1998 – The race finished at “OO”, Barnebirkie was a foot race.
2000 – Birkie race canceled for lack of snow
2002 – Race finished in Duffy’s Field after rain on both Friday and Saturday
2007 – With temps of 52o and rain, the Birkie race was shortened to 25K for lack of snow; only elite skiers were timed, open ski for citizen skiers

“As always, the safety of participants is first and foremost in mind for the entire ABSF staff and board, followed by their goal of creating the best possible participant experience for all,” the release continued. “Both things are weighed and considered with each and every decision the ABSF makes.”

On the whole, the Birkie Trail’s base has remained “quite stable” despite the February thaw. Trails north of the OO halfway point have a four-inch base and south of it “remain mostly intact,” the release stated.

“As of today, the possibility of finishing at Duffy Field in Hayward remains an option for Birkie Week races. That being said, the ABSF is very realistic with contingency planning and are focusing on the increasing likelihood of staging Birkie week events on the trail north of OO.”

The locations of Thursday’s events will be made and announced on Tuesday, and the ABSF planned to wait 24 hours “to see what Mother Nature has in store for Cable and Hayward” before making decisions regarding Friday’s and Saturday’s events. The Kortelopet (half Birkie) is scheduled for Friday and full Birkie on Saturday.

The ABSF will provide updates on its official website, Facebook, Twitter, direct emails and through local media (as well as here on FasterSkier).


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