2017 American Birkebeiner Cancelled
Birkie Fever Continues Despite the Cancellation
For only the second time in 44 years all ski races set for this weekend’s Annual American Birkebeiner have been cancelled. The only other time this happened was in 2000.
Organizers for North America’s largest cross country ski race held out hope for this weekend as a potential snow storm was on the horizon.
Last minute efforts started early as crews transferred snow onto the bare trails, in hopes of still holding a shortened ski event on Saturday.
“We came up here because we weren’t sure what was going to happen. We tried to be positive. We found out this afternoon for sure that it’s not going to happen.” explained Ann Harris, a skier from St. Paul.
The Birkie racers who waited all year anxiously watched the forecast, hoping for at least 4 inches of snow. Many traveled from across 40 different states and 20 different countries to be here this weekend.
“I feel super depressed” said Mike Bazylewicz, a skier that came all the way from Vermont.
After over a week of unseasonable temperatures, breaking records and an inch and a half of rain, the Birkie trail had an inch thick sheet of ice, making it unsafe for the skiers.
Organizers had a tough call to make, as the snow storm they hoped for, stayed just miles to the southeast. That would have covered the ice and make the race possible.
Executive Director of the American Birkebeiner Ben Popp explained, “Once we knew we were not able to have a safe course, with the snow not falling here, that made the decision easy. As hard as it was, we had to say, you know what, no Birkie 2017.”
And for skiers who trained all year for the Birkie, t’s more than just a race.
“Seeing friends that you haven’t seen for over a year and just enjoying everything around you and being downtown on Main Street is a great time.”
They call it… Birkie fever!
“We all basically have Birkie fever and we are just trying to make it as contagious as possible!” explained Bazylewicz.
Despite the cancellation, the small town of Hayward was still packed with smiles and memories being made.
“So my first Birkie is actually going to be next year, but it just gives me 2 years to train. I’m just going to get amped for next year basically!”