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HAYWARD - The recent cold weather has been very good news to organizers of the American Birkebeiner Tour, which is North America's largest cross-country ski event.
This was the first week they have been able to groom all 35 miles of the main race's trail.
"We're not as worried now as we were a week ago. You know this has not been a great snow year here, in fact, through much of the state. Now, the recent storm we had, coupled with the storm from last week, have really put us in good shape. I talked to the groomer this morning and he said if we had to do the race today, we'd be able to do a full race," Ned Zuelsdorff , executive director of the American Birkebeiner Tour said.
In just a few weeks, all the cars parked in downtown Hayward will be replaced by more than 13,000 skiers from all over the world, which is an all-time record number of participants.
"The races closed registration in mid-October, which is the earliest ever. We have skiers coming from nearly every state, 22 foreign countries. We have some very top, elite skiers coming from Russia, Italy, France as well as many really good U.S.A. skiers," Zuelsdorff said.
However, you don't have to be a skier to enjoy all the festivities the Birkie has to offer.
Local businesses said the weekend is much more than the obvious increase in sales.
"It definitely is a culmination of the ski season. When you have 20,000 to 30,000 people coming into town who are excited about the ski race. This is one of the hubs of the ski race. It's kind of like old home week. You see people year after year, It's as much a business transaction as it is seeing old friends," Marcia Engeberetson, floor manager of the New Moon Ski & Bike Shop, said.
"Even if somebody isn't a skier, we invite them to come down here, be on main street for the finish line. It's a spectacle, lots of excitement, lots of noise; it's just a fun place to be," Zuelsdorff said.
A fun place to be and a chance to see some of the world's best cross-county skiers and a momentous occasion, as the Birkie celebrates its 40th Birthday.