Watch the livestream of tonight’s Legacy of the American Birkebeiner presentation by Tom Kelly, longtime friend and skiing historian.
Largest Ski Marathon in North America Announces Plans for Museum
Hayward, WI (July 24, 2015) — Each February more than 10,000 cross-country skiers gather in Cable and Hayward, Wisconsin to take part in North America’s largest and greatest ski race, the American Birkebeiner. Considered an iconic world-class sporting event, for over 40-years the Birkie has helped shape the lives of tens of thousands of participants from elite athletes to recreational citizen skiers. To commemorate the legacy of the race and inspire future generations, the American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation (ABSF) has announced plans for the Museum of the American Birkebeiner, slated to open in 2016.
The American Birkebeiner ski race was the vision of Hayward native Tony Wise, who discovered skiing as a soldier serving in Germany in World War II. After the war, he brought his concept home to found Telemark Lodge, near Cable, WI, and later evolved the concept into a cross-country ski race through the north woods of Wisconsin. The American Birkebeiner was patterned after the Birkebeiner Rennet ski race held each year in the forests of Norway. Wise’s vision shaped a community, a sport and brought the world together with the founding of the Worldloppet an international sports federation of cross-country skiing marathons.
On August 12, 2015, longtime Birkie PR leader and skiing historian Tom Kelly will take you back to the origins of Birkie, regaling the crowd with some of the legendary stories of the race’s roots. He’ll take you inside the mind of Wise, a native son of Hayward, Wisconsin, whose ingenuity and vision created a ski race that has become a lifestyle for tens of thousands of participants, become a landmark event in northwestern Wisconsin and an iconic festival of cross-country skiing.
The public is welcomed to this free presentation on Wednesday, August 12 at 7pm at Hayward’s Park Center Theater, with a reception following in the future space of the Museum of the American Birkebeiner located at the Birkie offices at 10527 Main Street, Hayward, WI. Kelly will be joined by members of the American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation, the Wise family and race fans, where exciting news surrounding the launch of the planned Museum of the American Birkebeiner will be announced. For planning purposes, the Birkie has requested that those planning to attend RSVP on the Birkie web-site, or call 715-634-5025 or email Birkie@Birkie.com for details.
The American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation is always seeking to further our mission and inspire generations of skiers,” said Ben Popp, ABSF executive director. “Without Tony Wise’s vision, the Birkie wouldn’t be what it is today.” With twin goals of education and inspiration, the Museum will enhance the Birkebeiner Foundation’s mission of supporting healthy and active lifestyles among people of all ages and abilities.
Throughout the planned museum, future visitors will find an emphasis on the stories and legacy of Wise, the Birkebeiners and the legendary Cable to Hayward Birkie race through the years. The Birkebeiners are popularly celebrated for having escorted the two-year-old Haakon Haakonsson, an heir to the Norwegian throne, to safety from Østerdalen to Trondheim, a long and perilous journey through treacherous mountains and forests of Norway. Their determination is commemorated each year at the American Birkebeiner Ski Marathon, held each year from Cable to Hayward, Wisconsin.
About the American Birkebeiner® Ski Foundation and Birkie® Events
Located near Hayward and Cable, Wisconsin, the American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization, is known for its signature American Birkebeiner Ski Marathon held each February. Today, the Birkie brand has grown to encompass a year round lifestyle that provides healthy, active events for thousands of outdoor fitness enthusiasts of all levels. From the iconic Birkie ski race to the Birkie Trail Run & Trek, and Fat Bike Birkie race, the ABSF and the Birkie Trail attract skiers, runners, bikers, trekkers, and hikers, from casual day-trippers to elite superstars.
Birkie. Ski. Run. Bike. Live! Visit www.Birkie.com to learn more.
A native of Madison, Wisconsin, Tom Kelly worked as a publicist and public relations director for Tony Wise from 1975 to 1984. His 1984 Birkie Fever traced the origins and 10-year history of the fabled American Birkebeiner. As PR director for Telemark, Kelly was one of Wise’s closest managers, working side-by-side with him during the race’s early years and through the evolution of the Worldloppet. His company Worldwide Nordic U.S.A. introduced hundreds of skiers to the international series. Today, Kelly remains an active leader in skiing as vice president, communications for the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association as well as being a foremost historian on the sport, serving