Birkie Race Also Awarded 2016 Champions of Economic Impact in Sports
Hayward, Wisconsin (November 29, 2016) — The American Birkebeiner Trail was named the number one cross-country ski destination in the nation as voted by USA TODAY’s 10Best Readers’ Choice travel award contest. Separately, the American Birkebeiner ski race was recently awarded the 2016 Champions of Economic Impact in Sports Tourism as announced today by the American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation (ABSF).
Best Cross-Country Ski Destination in the USA
The American Birkebeiner “Birkie” trail extends over 100+ kilometers (over 60 miles) through Bayfield and Sawyer Counties in northwest Wisconsin. A year-round recreation destination, the trails are groomed for cross-country skiing in the winter months and used by bikers, hikers, trekkers, and runners, the balance of the year. Home to the American Birkebeiner Ski Marathon, North America’s largest cross-country ski race, the Birkie Trail is envied worldwide for its trail infrastructure and beauty. With eight trailheads providing easy access to the trail, in addition to the eight year-round trailside shelters, the American Birkebeiner Trail system is maintained solely by the American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation.
Nominees in USA TODAY’s 10Best Readers; Choice travel award contest were chosen by a panel of experts including Reese Brown (Snowsports Industries America (SIA)), Wendy Clinch (TheSkiDiva), Lyndell Keating (Powderhounds), Nate Musson (The Not Snowboarding Podcast) and Jonathan Wiesel (Nordic Group International). The panel of experts partnered with editors from USA Today and 10Best editors to choose the initial nominees, and the winner was determined by popular vote over a 4-week period on the USA Today 10Best website. USA TODAY 10Best.com averages 5 million visitors per month.
“It is an incredible honor for the Birkie Trail to be voted the number one cross-country ski destination in USA TODAY’s 10Best Readers’ Choice award contest,” said Ben Popp, ABSF Executive Director. “Stewardship of this amazing resource is one of the core tenets of our foundation’s mission and we take its care very seriously. Our trail crew is second to none. We know what a national treasure the Birkie Trail is and are happy to share it with the world.”
Other nominees for Best Cross-Country Ski destination included: Bretton Woods Nordic Center; Craftsbury Outdoor Center; The Lodge at Jackson Fork Ranch; Lone Mountain Ranch; Mount Bachelor Nordic Center; Royal Gorge Cross Country Resort; Soldier Hollow; Sundance Mountain Resort; Sun Valley Nordic & Snowshoe Center; and Whiteface Lake Placid. The complete list of nominees is available at USA TODAY 10Best.
2016 Champions of Economic Impact in Sports Tourism
The American Birkebeiner (The Birkie) and the Hayward Lakes Visitors and Convention Bureau (HVCB) have been named 2016 Champions of Economic Impact in Sports Tourism by Sports Destination Management (SDM).
Hayward, a community of approximately 2,300, rallies together each February to welcome the world to the Birkie’s Nordic ski festival commemorating the 1206 rescue of the Norwegian prince by Birkebeiner warriors. Over 13,000 skiers, from Olympians to novices, and an estimated 30,000 spectators, attend the event annually. The 2016 American Birkebeiner welcomed skiers from 22 countries and 46 states to the Birkie Trail in the north woods of Wisconsin.
The prosperous partnership between the Birkie and the HVCB was noted by SDM as remarkable not only for the economic impact generated from the partnership but for other positive attributes such as driving tourism to a market sector, raising awareness of a sport, and creating a positive influence on the host destination. Today, the economic impact of silent sports provides an infusion of nearly $26 million dollars to Bayfield and Sawyer counties each year.
“At the heart of every Birkie event is the desire to help promote a healthy, active, outdoor lifestyle. Birkie events can certainly be counted as contributing to the silent sports economic impact in the region,” said Ben Popp, ABSF Executive Director. “I also serve on the HVCB board or directors and see their collaboration with the entire region. We’re proud of where we live and invite everyone to visit our region and enjoy our incredible natural resources,” Popp continued.
“Nominations exceeded our expectations. We were overwhelmed by the volume and scope of entries — from team to individual, across all disciplines and all levels of play,” said SDM publisher, Fonda Johnson.
Winners of the 2016 Champions of Economic Impact award were recognized in the November/December 2016 issue of Sports Destination Management. The entire article with full details on the winners below can also be found online along with a special feature on economic impact. See more at 2016 Champions of Economic Impact.