Hayward, WI (January 15, 2023) — The American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation hosted over 500 citizen racers and 100 SuperTour athletes at the 33rd annual Seeley Hills Classic on Saturday, January 14, 2023. In addition to the distance races on Saturday, there were SuperTour sprints on Sunday at the Birkie Trailhead. While the Birkie hosts SuperTour races as part of the American Birkiebeiner, this was the first time the event was paired with the Seeley Hills Classic. The SuperTour consists of some of the top cross-country skiers in the country that are trying to earn a spot on the World Cup tour.
The 32-kilometer SuperTour races were the first to start on Saturday. The men took off at 9:00am from Kortelopet Stadium, at the OO Trailhead in Seeley, Wis., with the women starting five minutes later. The conditions were fantastic with mostly sunny skies and temperatures hovering near 20 degrees. Racers headed south for less than a kilometer along the American Birkebeiner Trail before looping to the north, traversing the Key Log crossing over highway OO, and traveling along the American Birkebeiner Skate Trail. Just shy of the Timber Trail cabin racers turned around and followed the Classic Trail south to finish at Kortelopet Stadium. The idyllic race conditions and rolling hills of the American Birkebeiner Trail set the stage for a fast and challenging course for the SuperTour racers.
Claiming the top spot in the men’s 32k SuperTour was Peter Wolter, skiing for the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation Team, with a final time of 1:25:21. Alaska Pacific University (APU) skiers Zanden McMullen and Garrett Butts came in second and third, respectively, with times of 1:25:25 and 1:25:34. In the women’s division, Hannah Rudd, with the Bridger Ski Foundation (BSF) Pro Team, clocked a time of 1:40:19. BSF teammate Mariah Bredal finished in second-place with a time of 1:40:27. Margie Freed, Craftsbury Green Racing Project, placed third with a time of 1:40:29. While there were no photo finishes, both the men’s and women’s division were close races that provided exciting sprints to the finish for spectators to enjoy.
The 42-kilometer citizen race took off 10:00am with a field of 273 skiers. The 42k racecourse followed the same start as the SuperTour, but turned around earlier, near the Fire Tower aid station. Racers followed the classic trail south and continued past Kortelopet Stadium to the turnaround point, just past the Strand-Johnson Gravel Pit Trail Cabin. Skiers made a final turn north to finish at Kortelopet Stadium.
Five minutes after the 42k race started, 247 skiers toed the line for the start of the 22-kilometer citizen race. Their course headed directly south out of Kortelopet Stadium and turned around shortly after passing the Strand-Johnson Gravel Pit Trail Cabin. Skiers from Minnesota dominated the overall citizen races with 10 of 12 podium spots being claimed by Minnesotans. One lone Wisconsinite and Missourian joined the overall champions. Locals made a strong showing in the age class divisions, with 8 Hayward residents earning either first or second place in their age groups.
Men’s 22-Kilometer Seeley Hills Classic Champions
1. Torsten Brinkema, Minneapolis, Minn., 1:05:04
2. David Chamberlain, Minneapolis, Minn., 1:07:10
3. Karl Holub, New Brighton, Minn., 1:07:15
Women’s 22-Kilometer Seeley Hills Classic Champions
1. Molly Watkins, Duluth, Minn., 1:16:08
2. Vivian Johnson, Robbinsdale, Minn., 1:17:38
3. Katie Susong, Madison, Wis., 1:18:32
Men’s 42-Kilometer Seeley Hills Classic Champions
1. Matthew Liebsch, Long Lake, Minn., 2:14:22
2. Brian Gregg, Minneapolis, Minn., 2:14:23
3. David Joda, Saint Paul, Minn., 2:14:27
Women’s 42-Kilometer Seeley Hills Classic Champions
1. Hannah Olson, Liberty, Mo., 2:29:23
2. Julie Ensrud, Minneapolis, Minn., 2:31:04
3. Ingrid Thyr, Minneapolis, Minn., 2:34:46
On Sunday 100 SuperTour athletes gathered at the Birkie Trailhead in Cable, Wis. for a series of four sprint races, three qualifying rounds and one final. The course was set on the redeveloped World Cup trails acquired by the Birkie in 2016. The 1300-meter course included some of the most challenging terrain found in the area. In comparison to Saturday’s events, the sprints were short in duration and packed with action. Top skiers for the women and men completed the grueling 1300-meter loop in less than four minutes. Spectators were able to watch the big climb out of the start gate and easily traverse between two or three additional viewing locations to catch different sections of the race. The energy of the crowd and intensity of the racers created an unforgettable experience for all.
Women’s 1300m SuperTour Sprint Champions
1. Hannah Rudd, BSF Pro Team, 3:38.78
2. Margie Freed, Craftsbury Green Racing Project, 3:43.44
3. Mariah Bredal, BSF Pro Team, 3:43.88
Men’s 1300m SuperTour Sprint Champions
1. Michael Earnhart, APU Nordic Ski Center, 3:01.51
2. Zanden McMullen, APU Nordic Ski Center, 3:02.08
3. Logan Diekmann, BSF Pro Team, 3:02.97