Home > Winter > Skiing

No Snow: North America’s Biggest Ski Race Canceled

2017 American Birkebeiner cancelledSome of the 9500 skiers leave the starting line in Cable, Wis., for the American Birkebeiner Ski Race, that is a 50 kilometer that ends in downtown Hayward, Wis., on Saturday 21, 2009. Several hundred skiers start the race every few minutes as they race to the main street of Hayward, Wis. The town of Hayward Wis., trucks in snow, and covers the main street with a layer of snow for the race. (PAUL M. WALSH)
Support us! GearJunkie may earn a small commission from affiliate links in this article. Learn More

Organizers canceled the American Birkebeiner today for just the second time in the race’s 44-year history.

2017 American Birkebeiner cancelled
Skiers leave the starting line in the American Birkebeiner; Flickr photo by Paul M. Walsh

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.

Subscribe Now

Get adventure news and gear reviews in your inbox!

Join Our GearJunkie Newsletter

Get adventure news and gear reviews in your inbox!