Organizers canceled the American Birkebeiner today for just the second time in the race’s 44-year history.
North America’s largest cross-country ski race will not take place this year. The American Birkebeiner is the premier Nordic ski race in the U.S.
Each February, thousands of skiers race the 32 to 34 grueling miles between Cable and Hayward, Wis. But this year, conditions forced race organizers to pull the plug on the iconic race.
Officials also cancelled shorter races associated with the event.
“After days of unseasonable weather, rain, and a predicted snow storm front missing the Hayward and Cable areas, the American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation regretfully announces the cancellation of the 2017 American Birkebeiner, Kortelopet, and Prince Haakon cross-country ski races,” the organization said in a release today.
This is the second cancellation in race history. However, it was postponed for two weeks in 1981. Organizers shortened the course in 1998 due to warm weather.
2017 Birkie Cancelled
After record high temperatures and more than 1.5 inches of rain, race organizers closed the Birkie Trail from Cable to Hayward eight days ago to preserve it for this week’s races.
Shortly thereafter, Lake Hayward — which the race course normally crosses — was deemed unsafe for use. Organizers put a contingency to re-route it in place.
But even that wasn’t enough. Citing areas of the trail that lack snow, race officials said a timed event would be unsafe.
“While we know Birkie, Korte, and Prince Haakon skiers are disappointed with this announcement, I am confident that the ABSF staff did everything within their power to preserve the trail for a safe race,” said Ben Popp, ABSF Executive Director. “We know that the Birkie is so much more than a race to so many.”
In lieu of racing, organizers will host several events.
Beginning at 9:30 am on Saturday, February 25, buses will transport riders from the Como Parking Lot, off of Highway 63 and south of Cable, Wis., to the American Birkebeiner Trailhead.
There, skiers can lap a 5K loop built by a trail crew. Live music will play until 5 p.m. Fatbikes will be available to demo as a viable winter sport alternative, and as a true consolation, there will be beer in the form of the Birkie Brew-ski.