American Birkebeiner

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American Birkebeiner

Last weekend in February
The Birkie started in 1973 as a 55-kilometer cross-country ski race from Hayward, Wis., to Telemark Resort in the neighboring town of Cable, with only 35 skiers competing. Now it is the largest and most prestigious cross-country ski race in North America, an event that attracts top cross-country skiers from all over the world. In addition to the 55-kilometer Birkie, there is also the Kortelopet or "short race" of 23 kilometers, which is open to competitors ages 13 and up. Other races held during the three-day festival include the Barnebirkie (for children) and the 10K Family Fun Ski.
The American Birkebeiner is part of the Worldloppet, an international series of 12 marathon races held in Japan, Switzerland, Sweden, Norway, France, Germany, Austria, Finland, Italy, Canada, Australia, and the United States.
The American race was patterned after the Birkebeiner Rennet in Lillehammer, Norway. During the 13th century, a foreign invader was about to capture Norway's infant prince and heir to the throne. He was saved by two Viking warriors—called "Birkebeiners" for the birch-bark leggings they wore. These men took the child and skied 55 kilometers to safety. The baby eventually became the great Norwegian king, Haakon Haakonsson.
See also Vasaloppet
CONTACTS:
American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation
10527 Main St.
P.O. Box 911
Hayward, WI 54843
800-872-2753 or 715-634-5025; fax: 715-634-5663
www.birkie.com
SOURCES:
GdUSFest-1984, p. 210
References in periodicals archive ?
He began skiing the Birkie during a visit to his brother-in-law in Wisconsin, and got hooked in that first race.
Despite the hoopla, the Birkie is a serious race that draws some of the best skiers in the world.
Follwing a remarkable recovery, one-year-old Birkie was due to take part in the UK finals of the brave pet contest today.
Val, 56, of Ellon, Aberdeenshire, said: "It would be too sore to see everyone with their pets and us without Birkie.
For eight years Birkie matched the fishermen regulars word for salty word at a Plymouth pub.
Regulars tried everything to get lovebird Birkie swearing again - even attempting to separate him from Mary.
But a few months later I learned the Birkie and the National MS Society were working together.
Retired teacher Val, 56, of Ellon, Aberdeenshire, explained: "It would be too sore to see everyone with their pets and us without Birkie.
Waif-life Birkie was rescued by the People's Dispensary for Sick Animals last July after being dumped in an Aberdeen street aged just three months.
A year ago, Birkie was thrown from a car in Aberdeen.
But Birkie pulled through and now lives happily with retired Val and Harry Kinghorn in Ellon, Aberdeenshire.