Dedication Slated for August 6th near Cable, WI
Hayward, WI (August 1, 2016) — In November 2014, the American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation (ABSF) launched their first-ever capital campaign. Just seven short months later, their Phase 1 goal of $650,000 was realized and funds were used to secure land for a new permanent start area and construction of a temporary International bridge for use during February’s Birkie week of events. With trailhead construction officially completed, the ABSF is pleased to announce the August 6, 2016 dedication of the American Birkebeiner Trailhead and the new permanent start area for their iconic February ski race.
“The purchase of land for a new start area for the American Birkebeiner was a pivotal point in ABSF history and the new trailhead will guarantee the future of the race for generations to come,” said Ben Popp, ABSF Executive Director.
With the closing of Telemark lodge years ago, the start of the American Birkebeiner ski race was in jeopardy. For a number of years, the race’s starting line was moved to the runway of the Cable Union Airport, adjoining the Lodge. In an effort to ensure the race’s future, the ABSF purchased land near Telemark Lodge and adjacent to the current start area at the Cable Union Airport. Site preparations began in the fall of 2015 with trailhead and start line infrastructure completed in July of 2016.
“The ongoing support from the Cable Union Airport was critical to the success of Birkie events. We are extremely grateful for their years of support,” Popp continued. ”An enormous thank you goes out to everyone who made the new American Birkebeiner Trailhead a reality. From donors large and small, to the construction and trail crew, we couldn’t have done it without them. We look forward to sharing this great resource with the entire community very soon!” The new American Birkebeiner Trailhead, located off of McNaught Road near Cable, WI, is home to a new “Great Hall” to be used for storage throughout the year and as a pre-race warm space on brisk race mornings. Additionally, a newly constructed warming shelter/trailhead building will provide a safe space for runners, hikers, bikers and skiers throughout the year. The new American Birkebeiner Trailhead – the site of the start of the 44th American Birkebeiner ski race (February 25, 2017), along with the Great Hall, the warming shelter/trailhead building, and the Phase 1 Donor Honor Wall, will be dedicated at the ABSF’s annual meeting on Saturday, August 6, 2016.
The day will begin at 9:00am with a mountain bike ride, trail run/hike, and road bike ride at the ‘OO’ trailhead just east of Seeley, WI on Highway OO, the public is welcome to join in the fun. The American Birkebeiner Trailhead dedication celebration will begin at 4:30pm at the new trailhead near Cable, Wisconsin, followed by the Annual Meeting dinner, and ABSF annual meeting. The public is welcome to attend, however, there is a $10 fee for the picnic style dinner. Guests are asked to RSVP prior to August 3, 2016. Details available at www.Birkie.com.
The new American Birkebeiner Trailhead will be key to improving overall participant experience, secures the future of various Birkie events, and provides the ABSF with a medium to promote and encourage a year-round, active lifestyle.
While originally created to support a ski marathon, the ABSF has grown into much more than a singular ski race and now encompasses a series of year-round seasonal silent sports activities and events including skiing, biking, running, trekking and hiking. Throughout the year, the ABSF maintains the over 100km Birkie Trail through ongoing maintenance, mowing and grooming, along with the upkeep of 5 trailside shelters, in addition to the new American Birkebeiner Trailhead buildings.
Perhaps most importantly, the ABSF inspires a healthy active lifestyle for all ages, promotes conservation, and aids in driving economic growth in the region. Last year alone, an estimated 100,000 silent sports enthusiasts utilized the Birkie Trail. The new permanent start venue will not only enhance future events experiences, but will act as a gateway to the iconic Birkie Trail.
Silent sports continue to positively impact the northern Wisconsin economy. In a 2014 University of Wisconsin – Madison/Extension, Department of Urban and Regional Planning case study, utilizing data gathered in 2012, results suggest that roughly $14.7MM in private sector stimulus was infused directly within Ashland, Bayfield and/or Sawyer counties by nonresident (visitor) silent sports enthusiasts, supporting more than 222 jobs within the three counties, in that year alone. This, does not include revenues generated through skiers, hikers, bikers, trekkers, and primary and secondary home owners in and around northern Wisconsin. In a 2015 interview with regional television news media, Wisconsin Secretary of Tourism, Stephanie Klett, noted that silent sports tourism brings an estimated $26 million to the region.