American Birkebeiner

Skiing action at the American Birkebeiner weekend

While the marathon skiing elite at the moment is focussing on the Finlandia Hiihto in Lahti, which is the 6th stage of the FIS Worldloppet Cup 2019, another Worldloppet race is holding its events this weekend: The American Birkebeiner.

Already the whole week the mainstreet of Hayward has been the venue of different events on snow: Local companies have sent their employees to the giant-ski relay, dog-lovers had the chance to do a skiing competition together with their pets at the Barkie Birkie and hundreds of children were doing their first steps on skies at the Barnebirkie and the future elite skiers have been showing their skills at the Junior Birkie.

The Giant Ski event. (c) American Birkebeiner Skifoundation

Today it is time for the short race of the American Birkebeiner, the Korteloppet. 29 km skiing either in classic style or in free technique, before crossing the famous International Birkie Bridge and entering the finish lane on the main street of Hayward. Also a 15 km distance is available at the Prince Haakon’s race.

(c) American Birkebeiner Skifoundation

And tomorrow, Saturday the 23rd of February is the day of the big main race, the American Birkebeiner. The participants who choose the free technique are going to ski 50 km, while the classic skiers have to do 55 km, both between Cable and Hayward. The track are in perfect conditions.

The American Birkebeiner in numbers

  • 13,500 Skiers (all events)
  • 1 American Birkebeiner International Bridge
  • 1 Key Log Crossing Bridge at OO Trailhead
  • 1 Amazing Birkie Trail
  • 1 Lake
  • 8 Aid Stations
  • 2845 volunteers
  • 9 Cities, Townships & Counties
  • 25,000 to 30,000 Spectators
  • 2 Dump Trucks
  • 68 Dump Truck Loads of Snow for Main Street
  • 2 Helicopters
  • 8 Forerunner Skiers
  • 1 Birkie Brew-Ski Beer Garden
  • 92 National Ski Patrol Skiers
  • 26 Tents of all Sizes
  • 2300 Oranges
  • 5500 Bananas
  • 5200 Cups of Hot Chocolate
  • 680 gallons of soup
  • 5700 gallons of water
  • 1700 gallons of sport drink
  • 42,000 cookies
  • 220 portable toilets
  • 50+ miles of snow-covered, forested trails
  • 30-foot wide course
  • 13,500 Bibs
  • 8000 Medals
  • 9000 Pins
  • 10,500 Ski Stickers
  • 26,000 Skis & Poles
  • Every Hotel Room & Bed for Miles Around
  • And…Nearly a million-dollars to make Birkie Week magic happen!
The best friend of the human, also on skies! Barkiebirkie. (c) American Birkebeiner

Some fun facts about the Birkie

  • During the American Birkebeiner ski race, between 12:00pm and 2:00pm, approximately one skier crosses the finish line per second on Hayward’s Main Street.
  • The American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation is the steward of the over 100K Birkie Trail and is solely responsible for all grooming and maintenance with annual costs of $365,000 per year, depending on weather conditions.
  • It takes three grooming staffers, driving three Pisten Bully groomers, an estimated 36 hours to groom the ski trail. If grooming on snowmobiles, it takes 4 groomers an estimated 15 hours to groom the ski trails.
  • For the safety of skiers, grooming is done at night (typically from 9:00pm – 2:00am) when skiers are off of the trail.
  • There are ten cabins and/or trailheads on the Birkie Trail
  • The highest point on the trail is 1733 feet (528 m).
  • The first Birkie had 35 participants.
  • It takes nearly 2845 volunteers to welcome the world to northwestern Wisconsin for the Birkie week of festivities.
  • Over 250,000 skiers have participated in American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation ski events since the inception of the first race in 1973
  • More than one in three participants skis the classic technique, with the remainder skiing freestyle or skate technique.
  • Each year, three skiers and an infant dress in full costume as the original Birkebeiner warriors, Inga (mother of Prince Haakon), and infant Prince Haakon. The adults ski the entire race on wooden skis and in full historical garb. In the final stretch swap their baby doll for a real infant “Prince” as they ski across the finish line on Hayward’s Main Street.
  • During the Birkie, Korte, and Prince Haakon, 3 kilometers before skiers reach Hayward they make their way across frozen Lake Hayward. Then, they proceed up and over the International Bridge on their way to the Finish Line on Hayward’s Main Street. A cacophony of church bells alert spectators of their pending arrival.
  • The American Birkebeiner International Bridge is 13’6” high and, for the first time, ever spans 4 lanes across Highway 63 in downtown Hayward. In 2018, the American Birkebeiner International Bridge was the centerpiece for Super Bowl Live in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
  • 68+ Dump truck loads of snow are placed on Hayward’s Main Street before Thursday, Friday, and Saturday’s races.
  • In 2019, over 13,500 skiers will participate in the week’s Nordic Festivities.
  • In 2019, skiers from 49 states (all but Oklahoma) and 24 countries will participate in Birkie week races.
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