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 ?
Dong won the 2008 American Birkebeiner race and finished fourth in the world's largest ski marathon, the Swiss Engadine.
He's completed the American Birkebeiner four times.
The American Birkebeiner, North America's largest and most prestigious cross-country ski race, is held in Hayward every winter.

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