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The American Birkebeiner North America's Largest Nordic Event Will Take Place

American-Birkebiner-picture-US-Ski-and-SnowboardFacebook American Birkebeiner (US Ski and Snowboard Facebook)

North America's largest cross country ski race, the American Birkebeiner, is able to take place this coming weekend February 24-25 in Hayward, Wisconsin, but will be a shortened version of the 50-kilometer point-to-point race. It will be shortened to a 10K loop of man-made snow, and split the skate-style and classic races over two days.

The event, held in northern Wisconsin, routinely attracts participants from all 50 states and up to 26 countries from around the globe. Thirty five people skied in the first event held in 1973. Today it is one of the largest Nordic races in the world. Each year more than 10,000 skiers participate in the Birkie's week long series of events, according to Wikipedia, which increases the number of people in the small town by tenfold. Hayward's population is listed at around 2,500.

A very mild Midwest winter has played havoc with a number of Nordic events. The North American VASA Race in Traverse City, Michigan, which is held the second weekend of February was canceled this winter, as was a large event scheduled to take place in Marquette earlier this month. Shorter competitions at the Birkebeiner geared towards children, teens, and less-accomplished skiers normally held throughout the week before the big race will be missing this winter.

This first American Birkebeiner was held in 1973 at nearby Telemark Resort, a downhill ski resort Tony Wise and H.B. Hewitt opened the winter of 1947. The ski area is now gone, but a new lodge and era has begun. The nonprofit American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation that puts on North America's largest Nordic ski race each February is in the process of successfully reopening it as Mt. Telemark Village., which will be dedicated to year-round outdoor activities, and host a museum with information and memorabilia about the Birkebeiner.

When fully completed there will be over 17 miles of woodland trails available and  a five-kilometer paved trail. The purpose is to make it a year-round destination for silent sports. A 12,000-square-foot multipurpose building will anchor Mt. Telemark Village, which will serve as a community center, shopping and rental area, coffee shop, and changing/shower area, is expected to open this spring.




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