Press Release from ABSF:
Birkie Week 2021 Slated for February 24–28, 2021
Hayward, WI (October 14, 2020) – After months of planning, and with the guidance of public health officials, today the American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation (ABSF) is pleased to announce the planned format for their annual February ski races. Registration for the 2021 Slumberland American Birkebeiner, Kortelopet and Prince Haakon races opened on May 1, 2020 with the promise of hosting the events and the caveat that the races would undoubtedly look differently than in a typical year given the world’s public health crisis.
Over the past few months, the ABSF has safely hosted three in-person events – Birkie Lumberjack Run (July), Birkie Trail Run (September), and Birkie Telemark Ascent (October) – introducing a variety of innovative and enhanced safety protocols for athletes, volunteers and staff at each event. Now, with months of learning and applied safety practices in place, the 47th Annual Slumberland American Birkebeiner (Birkie), Kortelopet (Korte) and Prince Haakon races, combined, will be spread out over five-days, February 24-28, with limited and staged start waves each morning to reduce congestion and close-contact in the start, on-trail, and finish areas.
“Providing inspiring healthy, active, outdoor lifestyle experiences is at the heart of what we do at the ABSF,” said Ben Popp, ABSF Executive Director. “The safety of participants, volunteers, staff, and the greater community continues to be our No.1 priority. I am confident in our practices, in our team, and in our ability to deliver a safe and fun Birkie experience to remember for all participants.”
To accommodate specific ski techniques, Birkie skate skiers will race on Feb 24, 25, and 27, with classic skiers on February 26 and 28. Skiers will be required to drive their own vehicles to the start area at the American Birkebeiner Trailhead , Cable, WI, where they will ski a 46-kilometer looped course, returning to a separate finish area adjoining the American Birkebeiner Trailhead. Skiers will need to be more self-reliant by carrying their own on on-course energy or food and will use their vehicles as their pre- and post-race warm space. Hydration will be provided at on-course aid stations. Spectators will not be allowed at the start and finish of the races. Removing all major gathering points, congested indoor spaces, and shared busing will enable the ABSF to adhere to all public health guidelines and safety protocols while providing a great race experience on the wide, open-air ski trails.
Birkie, Korte and Prince Haakon participants will have the opportunity to choose their February race date sometime in early November. Registered skiers will receive an email allowing them to choose from available dates; once maximum capacity in each pre-qualified wave and date has been reached, that date and time will no longer be available. Any registered skier may also choose to switch to the virtual race option to be skied during the same time window as in-person races.
Bib pick-up, other Birkie week events, and greater event details will be announced at a later date. The ABSF continues to work very closely with both Bayfield and Sawyer County Public Health officials to ensure all Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and local public health guidelines are in place for all upcoming events. Event plans are subject to change should public health mandates, guidelines or laws be amended.
The annual Birkie Week of events requires the collaboration of cities, towns, villages, public officials, state and county agencies, local businesses, volunteers, churches, and so many more. With a race finish in downtown Hayward removed from the race format, the ABSF has been in contact with officials and Chambers of Commerce to begin the process of formulating plans to ensure a positive Birkie week experience for all constituencies.
Registration for Birkie, Korte, and Prince Haakon 2021 remains open with many waves already filled. Skiers interested in participating in this unique Birkie week experience are encouraged to register at www.Birkie.com. All future event updates and news will be posted on Birkie.com under the Birkie Event Updates tile on the website’s home page. Additional details are available by watching this video. In addition, on Monday, October 19th, 6pm CDT, Ben Popp, Executive Director, and Kristy Maki, Event Director, will host a virtual “live” meeting to provide additional event information and answer submitted questions. Check the Birkie Event Update page at Birkie.com for additional information.