Celebrating a successful 2014 and laying big plans for the future

HAYWARD, Wisconsin (August 11, 2014) – It was an amazing day for the American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation’s Annual Meeting Party, held on August 9 at the OO Trailhead.  For the first time, the ABSF made a day-long event out of this annual ritual, giving people the opportunity to participate in group workouts, then re-fuel with a tasty dinner, followed by the official Annual Meeting.  Every year the ABSF recaps the prior year and shares plans for the future during the annual meeting, in addition to announcing the results of the Board of Directors election.  IMG_3236

Highlights of the day included mountain & road biking, trail running, and roller-skiing sessions in the morning, followed by a group Nordic walk and a swim in Silverthorn Lake in the afternoon led by Out There! of Rice Lake.  Over 40 people got a great workout and had a great time!  “It was fun to share time on the trails with a passionate group of Birkie enthusiasts” said ABSF Executive Director Ben Popp.  “I’m very happy we have the support of over 1,000 Foundation Members, and I look forward to seeing that number grow in the future.  A big thank-you to them and to the community for making Birkie what it is today!”

The evening festivities consisted of last minute voting by Birkie Foundation members for 5 spots on the ABSF Board of Directors, followed by a picnic dinner.  Over 85 people attended which made for a festive crowd of passionate Birkie supporters as well as new-comers just learning about the Foundation.

The evening culminated with the ABSF Annual Meeting.  Board President Sue Scheer opened the meeting reflecting on the past year. “This is a time to IMG_3233celebrate the accomplishments of this past year as well as share plans for the months and years ahead.  While the 2014 Birkie provided our new Executive Director, Ben Popp and the rest of the Birkie staff significant weather related challenges, it exposed the can-do attitude of the community and volunteers that make our event so special.”

ABSF Treasurer Joe Timmerman presented the annual financial report which demonstrates a healthy financial position for the 501(c)(3)non-profit organization.  Board member Dennis Kruse recapped the recent Worldloppet Annual Meeting, including the announcement of China, Argentina, Iceland and New Zealand as new Associate Members, and provided updates on the FIS Marathon Cup which the Birkie is part of.

Executive Director Ben Popp recapped his first year with the ABSF, and continued his presentation with a big focus on the future with the creation of a five-year strategic plan.  “There are five themes for 2015-2020 that will drive success in everything the ABSF does:

  1. Operate with Excellence
  2. Protect Our Core
  3. Create Exceptional Experiences
  4. Harness our Network
  5. Boost Reach and Deepen Impact

Each of these 5 themes plays a huge role in all facets of the ABSF from events to the trail, from fundraising to sponsorship, from marketing & communications to human resources, from finances to volunteers.” IMG_3238

The primary focus for the future is a $2 million over 5-years fundraising campaign that will be launched later this year.  There are three pillar projects to the campaign:  Secure a permanent start for the American Birkebeiner Ski Races; significant trail improvements providing more infrastructure and a guarantee for trail sustainability, even in low snow years; and the development of a public outdoor recreation center that is connected to the Birkie Trail System, giving people of all ages and abilities easy access to a healthy outdoor lifestyle.  “Success with this campaign will bring the Birkie Foundation and its events to a whole new level, allowing us to provide a top-notch experience for the racer, the recreational athlete, the kids, the volunteers, and the community as a whole” said Popp.

Other high points Popp talked about include the re-routing of the Korte finish line to make for a more festive finish and simplify logistics; the re-routing of the Birkie trail to utilize Fish Hatchery Park building as an aid station during the race; the new Birkie website; new safety boxes installed at each kilometer marker on the trail, containing an emergency blanket and instructions how to get help; the new research partnership between Birkie and Mayo Clinic looking at how and why Birkie skiers become Birkie skiers; and the upcoming remodel of the Birkie office in Hayward, including the addition of a Birkie Museum.

ABSF Secretary Jane Bidwell wrapped up the meeting by announcing the results of the Board of Directors election.  Congratulations to incumbents John Garrett, Dennis Kruse, and John Kotar for their re-election, and to Mike Mandli and Charlie Dee as new board members.  Garrett, Kruse, Kotar, and Mandli were elected to serve three-year terms, with Dee elected to serve a one-year term left vacant by a previous board member.IMG_3235

In closing remarks, Popp expressed a heartfelt thank-you to the more than 2500 people who volunteer for the ABSF in any given year.  “Without you volunteers, the Birkie would not be what it is today.  I can’t thank you enough for your time, your dedication, and your smiles!”


SKI . RUN . BIKE . LIVE! The Birkie is a year-round lifestyle choice for thousands of outdoor fitness enthusiasts of all levels. From its signature ski race – the legendary American Birkebeiner – the Birkie has grown into an exciting array of fitness and recreational opportunities. The 107-kilometer Birkie Trail system attracts skiers, runners, bikers, trekkers, and hikers, from casual day-trippers to elite superstars. Located near Hayward and Cable, Wisconsin, the Birkie is now an outdoor sports mecca, a series of great races, a fitness destination, and a lifestyle. Ski . Run . Bike . Live!  Learn more about the Birkie at www.birkie.com

About the ABSF:  The American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit membership-based organization lead by an Executive Director and a 13-member Board of Directors.  The mission of the ABSF is threefold:  1) To promote and conduct the finest international cross country ski competitions, to serve as good stewards of the American Birkebeiner Trail, and to support healthy and active lifestyles among skiers of all ages.   To join the Foundation, visit the Membership page on our website: www.birkie.com/membership

Thanks to Our Sponsors, including SWIX, Title Sponsor of the American Birkebeiner Skate Race and Birkie Week ski events, Feb. 19-22, 2015, as well as FITS, New Moon Ski & Bike, Gu Energy, Hammer Nutrition, Marshfield Clinic – Hayward Center, Timber Ford of Hayward, and dozens of other businesses, organizations, and professional services.


Posted August 12, 2014 at 4:39 pm