Warm and Sunny Weather Welcomes 2020 American Birkebeiner
Each year the spectacle draws racers and fans from all over the world to see America's largest cross-country ski race and the third-largest in the world.
HAYWARD, Wis. – Thousands of racers skied through Hayward on Saturday for the 2020 American Birkebeiner.
The weather was what some racers were calling perfect nordic racing weather with temperatures around 40 and sunny skies.
Each year the spectacle draws racers and fans from all over the world to see America’s largest cross-country ski race and the third-largest in the world.
This year, tens of thousands of skiers and fans got to bask in sunny skies and great temperatures along the racecourse.
“Today was a beautiful beautiful day it was really really nice even this morning everyone was working on their wax at 7 in the morning and the sun was rising beautiful day,” said Brandy Stewart who skied her thirteenth Birkie.
More than 11,000 skaters and skiers from around the world travel the 50 and 55 kilometers from Cable to Hayward.
They are awaited by nearly 30,000 screaming fans at the finish line.
“It really is I think the greatest show on snow. You’re downtown there’s beer and brats and music and then all these skiers it really becomes like I said not a ski race it’s a carnival a real celebration of being active outdoors and loving the Northwoods,” said Ben Popp, the executive director of the American Birkebeiner.
Four years ago, Betty Joe Haggerty and her dog Abby won the Barkie Birkie, the Birkie for dogs and their humans.
This year, the pair attended the Birkie to cheer on a family member.
“This is the best ever I can ever remember usually we are kind of running in and out to keep warm and today you don’t even have to zip up your jacket,” said Haggerty, whose son raced in the Birkie.
This year’s Birkie features racers from 47 states and 27 countries.
Though there are races all over the world, very few involve a town of just a couple thousand people embracing the racers.
“Huge amounts of fans on the course often in the US we are just skiing along in the woods no one knows we are there so it’s cool how many people were out cheering,” said Stewart.
The medical help on hand at the Birkie said that they did not see as many skiers with injuries by mid-day as they have in years past.
Doctors believe that it had to do with the warm temperatures.
For the second year, the Hayward Area Memorial Hospital has been in charge of the Birkie medical tent.
The staff there loves the opportunity to treat and meet world-class athletes.
“Right, it’s amazing, people coming in that just are tremendous athletes and it’s just fun to be part of a fun event in a small town,” said Dr. Brent Kelley who was on hand for his second year treating Birkie skiers.
In colder years, issues like hypothermia happen more often.
In warmer races like on Saturday, cramping becomes more of a problem.
A full list of winners can be found here.