45-time Birkie racer sparks personalized commemorative bell

The American Birkebeiner has more cowbell, you can too! Sample image of a Personalized American Birkebeiner CowbellHayward, WI — February 20, 2023 — To celebrate athletes and create even more cheering clamor at the nation’s largest ski race, the American Birkiebeiner (aka Birkie) and Cowbells.com have entered into a licensing agreement. It allows custom engraved cowbells to be personalized with participants/fans names or message in combination with official Birkie logos.

While the Birkie has ordered the Norwegian-made cowbells for over 13 years, the option of personalizing them began just two weeks before the event. Birchleggings Club member Bob Britz sparked the deal in his quest to commemorate his 45 years of racing in the 49 year-old event. Britz and his graphics-savvy daughter Gina, sent a mock up to Cowbells.com owner Elisabeth Halvorson. Birkie Enterprise Retail Manager Louise Drosseler and Joe Vadeboncour in Strategic Partnerships moved fast to make it happen.

Birchleggings Club President Paul Thompson supported the campaign. “The bell has a great tradition that identifies with the Birkie Ski race. It’s a ringing endorsement of your accomplishment, whether it is one race or many races. You are part of a great Legacy that supports healthy lifestyles, encourages people of all ages to be active, and supports efforts to improve our environment.”

So why cowbells? “It’s a European tradition to cheer ski racers with cowbells,” explains Halvorson. “Mittens don’t clap, so cheering with cowbells encourages the racers go faster! Sometimes they’ll yell “more cowbell”… referencing the Saturday Night Live More Cowbell Skit. To me that means giving more oomph, excitement, go-for-it, and you-can-do-it!” She cheered. “ My favorite quote on Birkie.com is “when you ski down Main Street, you feel like a rock star!”

Birkie Week festivities begin on Wednesday, February 22nd cumulating with the 49th American Birkebeiner on Saturday, February 25th.

MOEN Bells of Norway first became an Official Cheering Bell during the 1994 Olympic Winter Games in Lillehammer, Norway. These real sheep, goat and cow bells from the mountains of Norway are made out of spent bullet casing from the Norwegian military practice ranges. Halvorson likes to say they are “from bullets to bells!”

Each bell is engraved with the event logo and decorated with a stars and stripes webbing strap. The seven sizes range from small 2-3/4” to MEGA 11-1/2” tall bells.

Official cheering bells for the American Birkebeiner are available at the two Birkie Stores in Hayward, WI. Personalized licensed logo bells are available at Cowbells.com/Birkie. Prices range from $25 to $300.

The two most frequently asked questions Halvorson receives are “why bells?” and “how did you get into this business?”

Q: Why do spectators ring cowbells at ski races?
A: My short answer is “because mittens don’t clap”. The longer explanation is that “it’s an old European tradition that started in Switzerland, where farmers were often ski racers. Cows aren’t belled in the winter. So the bells were, and still are, handy noise makers that can be heard from the bottom to the top of the race course.”

“It’s all about spectators communicating with the athletes. With cowbells, the spectators become part of the atmosphere of the event. Some athletes say all the noise helps them perform, to GO FASTER! They know there’s an enthusiastic crowd waiting for them and ready to go WILD. Cheering with cowbells also saves your vocal chords. So it’s practical too. But do remember to bring your mittens… the metal bells can get cold out there!”

Q: How did you get in to this business?
A: “Our herd/team imports, designs, and sells cowbells because I wanted to be in the Olympics when I was seven. I started the business with the goal to be an Official Supplier of the 2002 Salt Lake Olympic Winter Games. It was a great success for us. We helped make very noisy events. It’s FUN, and I got to go skiing for work sometimes. I realized my childhood dream and even won three Olympic President’s Awards! Yippee!”

Posted February 21, 2023 at 12:00 pm