America’s 2nd Largest Ski Race Moves to Friday

Hayward, Wis. (March 18, 2016) – The American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation (ABSF) board of directors today announced the 2017 American Birkebeiner schedule of events slated for February 23-26, 2017. North America’s largest cross-country ski race, the American Birkebeiner, is scheduled for Saturday, February 25, 2017 with the Kortelopet, North America’s second largest ski race, moved to Friday, February 24, 2017.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

The American Birkebeiner week of festivities will begin on Thursday with several events returning to their original Thursday schedule. The day kicks off with the Birkie Adaptive Ski event, followed by the Barkie Birkie Skijor, the Barnebirkie Youth Ski Tour, the Junior Birkie, and the Birkie Junior-Elite Sprints, culminating with the ever-popular Giant Ski Race.

While youth participation was strong in 2016, in past years Barnebirkie participation was strongest when the event was held on a Thursday. Additionally, returning the races to Thursday allows more families to participate in the downtown Hayward experience with a full schedule of events for skiers and spectators alike. Lastly, 2017 will be the first year that junior skiers and elites will combine for the sprints, an event certain to provide inspiring moments for junior skiers and mentorship opportunities for elite racers.

Friday, February 24, 2017

The most significant changes in 2017 will be on Friday with both the Kortelopet and Prince Haakon races moving from Saturday to Friday to provide for a better overall race experience for all Birkie, Korte, and Prince Haakon skiers. Both races will finish in downtown Hayward with the 28K Kortelopet starting at the Highway OO Trailhead and the 15K Prince Haakon starting near Mosquito Brook. Skiers will be greeted by the ringing of cowbells, cheering fans and the post-race celebratory atmosphere that was lacking at the current race start and finish.

“Our decision to move both the Prince Haakon and Kortelopet races to Friday was made with thoughtful consideration for all ski participants,” stated Ben Popp, ABSF Executive Director. “As part of the decision making process, we surveyed our participants, talked with the community, and gathered insights from key stakeholders. From skiers and their families, to business owners and volunteers, it became clear that a move to Friday would allow us to provide the best possible Birkie moments for all.”

The Kortelopet has grown 40% since 2006. With current and future Korte trail access and maintenance issues top-of-mind, the ABSF was in need of making necessary changes to ensure the viability of the race both now and in the future. Previously, Kortelopet and Birkebeiner skiers were on the course at the same time, creating concerning course congestion. Moving the Kortelopet and Prince Haakon to Friday allows for strategic and measured growth for both the moderate length Kortelopet and shorter distance Prince Haakon races.

“One of the primary comments we heard from Korte and Prince Haakon skiers was that the finish line experience was underwhelming. We took that to heart,” Popp continued. “By moving the race to Friday all skiers will experience the excitement that comes from having the support of family, friends and spectators there as skiers cross the finish line. The infrastructure in Hayward will allow for a much-improved overall event feel for skiers and spectators alike.”

“We are excited about giving the Korte and Prince Haakon skiers the opportunity to shine on their own race day,” said Allan Serrano, ABSF Event Director. “Now Korte and Prince Haakon skiers will experience a better course, better recognition, and better finish line moment. It is really about providing the best possible experience for every skier.”

Saturday, February 25, 2017

For the first time ever, on Saturday, February 25, 2017, the 44th Annual Slumberland American Birkebeiner skiers will line-up at the new Birkie permanent start, made possible by Phase 1 of the ABSF’s first-ever capital campaign which launched in 2015. The 2017 American Birkebeiner will christen the start as skiers embark on an over 50K journey (50K skate/54K classic) to their final destination at the finish line in Hayward, WI.

“We’ve heard from many Birkie skiers, who have family or friends in the Kortelopet or Prince Haakon, that they are excited to be able to cheer on their traveling companions on Friday, and in-turn have their family and friends cheer for them during Saturday’s race. We’ve been talking for some time about what is best for all Birkie, Korte and Prince Haakon skiers and we feel confident that this is the best next step,” mentioned Popp.

As has occurred each of the past two years, the International Bridge will be installed Tuesday morning over Wisconsin Highway 63. In 2017, the bridge will accommodate four lanes of traffic to further reduce congestion and provide better access for all drivers.

Additional event details will be announced as the 2017 American Birkebeiner draws nearer.

American Birkebeiner Week of Nordic Festivities
2017 Schedule of Events

Thursday, February 23, 2017

  • 9:00am – Birkie Adaptive Events 1.2K or 3K
    • Adaptive athletes overcome physical challenges in one of 3 categories – sit-skiers, standing adaptive skiers, and visually impaired skiers
  • 9:30am – Barkie Birkie Skijor
    • Skiers & dogs enjoy the sport of skijoring and show off their “Barkie Fever”
  • 12:00pm – Barnebirkie Youth Ski Tour
    • Youth, ages 3-11, take to the streets in their own 1.2K or 3K mini-marathon
  • 2:00pm – Junior Birkie Youth Ski Race
    • Special ski event for passionate skiers between 7 and 19-years of age
  • 4:30pm – Birkie Junior-Elite Sprints
    • Junior skiers team up with elite athletes in a sprint competition
  • 5:30pm – Giant Ski Race
    • Skiers and non-skiers alike compete in teams of six on giant 25-foot long skis

Friday, February 24, 2017

  • 11:00am – Kortelopet 28K Classic & Skate Ski Race
    • North America’s second largest ski race moves from Saturday to Friday where skiers will journey from the Highway “OO” Trailhead to the finish line on Hayward’s Main Street
  • 1:30pm – Prince Haakon 15K Classic & Skate Ski Race
    • A race which honors the Norwegian King, rescued and skied to safety by Birkebeiner warriors in 1206, the Prince Haakon Race will begin near Mosquito Brook and skiers will make their way to the finish line in downtown Hayward, Wisconsin – a first for the 2017 race

Saturday, February 25, 2017

  • 44th Annual Slumberland American Birkebeiner 50K Skate & 54K Classic Ski Race
    • North America’s largest cross-country ski race finds thousands of skiers recreating the journey that Norwegian Birkebeiner warriors journeyed to save Prince Haakon – the very legacy of the American Birkebeiner race

Sunday, February 26, 2017

  • On-Snow Ski & Bike Demo
    • Held at the Highway OO Trailhead, this event provides opportunity for everyone to visit with the experts and try the latest ski gear and fat bikes.

About the American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation and Birkie Events

Located near Hayward and Cable, Wisconsin, the American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation (ABSF), a 501(c)(3) organization, is known for its signature American Birkebeiner Ski Marathon held each February. Today, the Birkie has grown to encompass a variety of year-round, silent sport events that promote a healthy, active lifestyle for thousands of outdoor fitness enthusiasts. The ABSF also acts as steward of the legendary Birkie Trail, providing year-round grooming, mowing and maintenance to all 107 kilometers. From the iconic American Birkebeiner ski race, to the Birkie Trail Run & Trek, and Fat Bike Birkie, the ABSF and the Birkie Trail attract skiers, runners, bikers, trekkers, and hikers, from casual day-trippers to elite athletes.

Learn more at BIRKIE Ski. Run. Bike. Live!

Posted March 18, 2016 at 12:02 pm