The mission of the American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation is:

To promote and conduct the finest international cross country ski competition;
To serve as good stewards of the American Birkebeiner Trail;
To support healthy and active lifestyles among people of all ages and abilities.

Birkie Warriors and Inga

Originally established to maintain and promote the American Birkebeiner ski race, the American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation (ABSF), fondly known as Birkie, has expanded to include active events beyond cross-country skiing. Today, the ABSF hosts outdoor events from Birkie Week to Epic Bike Fest, maintains state-of-the-art biking, skiing, and multiuse trails, and supports projects that promote healthy lifestyles.

The ABSF is a membership organization open to individuals, families, and businesses. Join today! The Foundation is led by a Board of Directors as well as a year-round staff.

Our History


The late Tony Wise who looked to his Norwegian heritage and patterned the ski marathon after the Birkebeiner Rennet, which had been held in Norway since 1932, founded the American Birkebeiner in 1973. Both events honor and re-create a historic Norwegian event when in 1206, two warrior soldiers, called “Birkebeiners” because of the birch-bark leggings they wore, skied infant Prince Haakon to safety during the Norwegian civil war. Prince Haakon subsequently became King of Norway, and the Birkebeiner soldiers became a Norwegian symbol of courage, perseverance and character in the face of adversity.

Over the years many thousands of people, both elite and “Citizen Skiers,” have enjoyed the thrill of personal triumph crossing the finish line of the Birkie and earning their prestigious award medallions.

In 1978 Wise formed the Worldloppet League, which now unites the American Birkebeiner with 19 of the world’s most prestigious ski marathons. In the trying days of the Cold War, Wise envisioned the exhilaration of marathon skiing as a conduit to international understanding. Today, skiers from many nations come to America to ski the Birkie.

The American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation was formed in 1985 when Tony Wise lost control of the event in the bankruptcy of his Telemark Resort property and other interests. Since then the ABSF has endeavored to preserve his legacy in the Cable/Hayward area.

Promotion of cross country skiing and protection and maintenance of the American Birkebeiner Trail are two of our primary goals. Each year our ABSF Development Grant Program awards thousands of dollars in grants to youth skiing organizations throughout the region and nation to foster young people making skiing part of their life.

Our Trail Fund was established to raise money to help offset our annual $130,000 trail budget. This money is used to pay for mowing and grooming the trail, repairing erosion, removing fallen trees, and providing signage throughout the year.

Please consider a donation into these funds. All donations to the ABSF are tax deductible to the extent provided by law.

The ABSF office is located in downtown Hayward, WI. The Board of Directors is elected to staggered, three- year-terms by Foundation membership at the Annual Meeting held each August.

We invite you to join skiers, the ski industry, and dedicated people in the Cable/Hayward area and the nation in perpetuating these uplifting ski events and the most life affirming sport on snow.

Birkie Staff

Ben PoppBen Popp
Executive Director
Shelby BarnardShelby Barnard
Registration Data Coordinator
Erik BlowErik Blow
Trail Manager
Michael BrownMichael Brown
Chief Financial Officer
Chris CampbellChris Campbell
Facilities Support
Shawn ConnellyShawn Connelly
Marketing Director
Louise DroesslerLouise Droessler
Development Director
Rachel FrydenlundRachel Frydenlund
Event Logistics Manager
Grace HoinsGrace Hoins
Event Manager
Eric HolteyEric Holtey
Trail Staff
Redgy JorstadRedgy Jorstad
Marketing Content Coordinator
Samantha LaSalleSamantha LaSalle
LWC Event Manager
Kristy MakiKristy Maki
Event Director
Andrew ManocheoAndrew Manocheo
Partnership Director
Stephanie MartinStephanie Martin
Sr. Staff Accountant
Rich MetcalfRich Metcalf
Trail Crew
Kelly NechutaKelly Nechuta
Registration Manager
Kyle ParkerKyle Parker
Partnership Coordinator
Victoria RossVictoria Ross
Birkie Retail Assistant
Ken SchmockKen Schmock
Equipment Mechanic
Jim SokupJim Sokup
Director of Facilities & Operations
Jeff TumblesonJeff Tumbleson
Senior Race Manager
Ronda TworekRonda Tworek
Director of Volunteers
Joe VadeboncoeurJoe Vadeboncoeur
Trail Development & Strategic Partnerships
Your Name Here!Your Name Here!
Buyer & Retail Manager

Board of Directors

Paul EckerlinePaul Eckerline
Bill Brown
Vice President
Kathie PautschKathie Pautsch
Kris BjerknessKris Bjerkness
Chris MorleyChris Morley
Andy UbelAndy Ubel
Tom DuffyTom Duffy
Representative, Sawyer County Board of Directors (Appointed)
Madelaine RekemeyerMadelaine Rekemeyer
Representative, Bayfield County Board of Directors (Appointed)


Foundation Committees

Capital Campaign / ABSF Development Committee

  • Chair: Bill Brown
  • Members: Kathie Schaus, Mike Cleary, Karen Manske, Paul Eckerline, John Schneider, Jan Guenther, Scott Chapin
  • Staff: Ben Popp
  • Consultant: John Munger

Finance Committee

  • Chair: Kris Bjerkness
  • Members: Jan Guenther, Tom Duffy, Sue Scheer, Andy Ubel, Paul Eckerline
  • Staff: Mike Brown
  • Minutes: May 2017

HR Committee

  • Members: Paul Eckerline, Bill Brown
  • Staff: Mike Brown

Birkie One

  • Chair: Chris Morley
  • Members: Andy Ubel, Sue Scheer, Madelyn Rekemeyer, Ernie St. Germaine, Thom Malnourie, Bob Kovar
  • Staff: Jeff Tumbleson


ABSF Bylaws

The American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation is a non-profit 501(c)3 membership-based organization that is governed by non-profit foundation bylaws.

A.B.S.F. Bylaws

A.B.S.F. Procedures Manual

Meeting Notices

Board of Directors:

Meetings are held the 3rd Monday of each month at the Birkie office (10527 Main St, Hayward WI), at 3:00PM (normally, no meetings are held February, June or November).  See next section for special information regarding the Annual Meeting.

Finance Committee:

Meets the same day as the Board of Directors meeting at 1:00PM, at the Birkie office (10527 Main St, Hayward WI).

B.O.D. Meeting Minutes

2024 – Board Meeting Minutes

2023 – Board Meeting Minutes

2022 – Board Meeting Minutes

2021 – Board Meeting Minutes

2020 – Board Meeting Minutes

2019 – Board Meeting Minutes

2018 – Board Meeting Minutes

2017 – Board Meeting Minutes

2016 – Board Meeting Minutes

2015 – Board Meeting Minutes

2014 – Board Meeting Minutes

2013 – Board Meeting Minutes

2012 – Board Meeting Minutes

2011 – Board Meeting Minutes

2010 – Board Meeting Minutes

Annual Report

ABSF Annual Report - 2022-20232022-2023
ABSF Annual Report - 2020-20212020-2021
ABSF Annual Report - 2019-20202019-2020
ABSF Annual Report - 2018-20192018-2019
ABSF Annual Report - 2017-20182017-2018
ABSF Annual Report - 2016-20172016-2017
ABSF Annual Report – 2015-20162015-2016
ABSF Annual Report – 2014-20152014-2015

Board of Director Elections