36th American Birkebeiner This Weekend

February 19, 2009 by  
Filed under features

North America’s largest cross-country ski race, the American Birkebeiner, is set to take place this coming Saturday. The race will run from Cable to Hayward and fans and participants are already getting geared up to make the most of the day.

The event faced some uncertainty recently as sudden heavy rains and temperatures in the 40s caused the usually frozen over Lake Hayward to appear somewhat unfrozen. The thick layer of ice that was created during February had not disappeared completely, but rather had become hidden below a giant pool of water. According to Bill Pierce, the trail supervisor for the event, “It looked like you could have launched a boat” on Lake Hayward. The unusual turn of events cast a shadow of doubt and despair over the 36th American Birkebeiner as no one was sure if the event would be able to take place as usual.

Fortunately it wasn’t long lived. The standing water has now either frozen or dissipated, making it possible for the 36th American Birkebeiner to take place as planned, without any alterations to the traditional full course. In fact the forecast for the day of the race predicts that temperatures will only reach the high teens. Ned Zuelsdorff, the executive director of the American Birkebeiner, decided to test the lake to ensure that the race would go off alright. He said: “I skied across the lake [Monday] and anticipate that skiers will have very good trail conditions over the final kilometers.” Birkie workers have become very good at banking the snow on either side of the trail across the lake to help save it from the wind and rain and this definitely helped them to avoid a repeat of the watery race that participants endured ten years ago. Despite the fact that between two and five inches of snow are expected to fall before the weekend, Birkie workers still plan to pack on more snow and bring out the snowplows to make sure that everything goes off well. If everything continues to go according to plan and weather predictions turn out to be accurate, this year’s American Birkebeiner is sure to be a massive success.