Hayward, WI, February 13, 2024 – As anticipation builds for Birkie Week 2024, the American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation (ABSF) is announcing several updates to this year’s 50th Slumberland American Birkebeiner anniversary celebration event. Birkie Week promises an unforgettable experience for participants and spectators alike, with the introduction of lapped courses, shortened distances, and the excitement of World Cup athletes joining us on the course. 

One of the highlights of this year’s Birkie Week is the participation of esteemed World Cup Athletes, including Minnesota’s own Jessie Diggins. Diggins, known for winning the United States’ first-ever cross-country skiing gold medal at the Winter Olympics in the team sprint in 2018, will grace the event on Saturday. Her presence is sure to inspire and motivate participants and spectators alike as they witness top-tier athleticism in action. Diggins’ teammate in the 2018 Winter Olympics Kikkan Randall will also be in attendance.  

In addition to welcoming world-class athletes, the ABSF is introducing some notable changes to the course and schedule this year. An Alternative Event Day event has been added on Thursday. This addition provides an opportunity for participants to race on Thursday instead of the Friday, Saturday, or Sunday events, accommodating a wider range of preferences, safety, and schedules. 

One of the most significant updates to the event week is the introduction of a lapped course. While lack of snow on the traditional Cable to Hayward course necessitated this change, this race format will enhance the spectator experience by allowing them to see athletes multiple times throughout the race. It also adds an element of strategy and excitement for competitors as they navigate the course. 

In conjunction with the shift to lapped courses, the ABSF has decided to shorten the distances for the American Birkebeiner, the Kortelopet, and the Prince Haakon citizen races. The American Birkebeiner, traditionally a 50K race, will now be a 30K event. The Kortelopet, a beloved 29K race, will be condensed to a 20K distance. Additionally, the Prince Haakon, typically a 15K race, will be shortened to a 10K course.  

While several races will see changes in distance, the American Birkebeiner Men’s and Women’s Elite Skate race will remain a 50K event.  

“We’re thrilled to welcome Jessie Diggins and other World Cup athletes to Birkie Week 2024,” said Ben Popp, Executive Director of the American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation. “Their participation adds an extra layer of excitement to an already exhilarating event. The American Birkebeiner is about more than just skiing; it’s about coming together as a community to celebrate our shared passion for winter sports.” 

In addition to these changes, American Birkebeiner Skate skiers will race on Saturday, while Classic skiers will take to the course on Sunday. This format aims to streamline the racing schedule, ease course congestion, and provide participants with a focused and immersive experience tailored to their preferred skiing style. If Classic skiers do not wish to ski on Sunday, they can choose to ski on Thursday instead. 

Final details for participants and spectators will be released in their respective event guides this Friday. 

Birkie Week 2024 will be a celebration of bringing the world to Northern Wisconsin for 50 years. It promises to be a memorable occasion, filled with thrilling races, camaraderie, and the beauty of Wisconsin’s Northwoods. Whether you’re a seasoned competitor, a spectator, or a first-time attendee, there’s something for everyone to enjoy during this celebration of the skiing community. 

For more information about Birkie Week 2024, including race schedules, registration details, and special events, please visit birkie.com/birkie50, or contact the American Birkiebeiner Ski Foundation’s Marketing and Communications Department via email media@birkie.com 

Posted February 13, 2024 at 12:00 pm