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American Birkebeiner changes course amid snowless winter

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HAYWARD, WI. (Northern News Now) – The Slumberland American Birkebeiner Ski Race is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, but has been forced to make changes to the race due to trail conditions.

This year the registration closed five months before the race with more than 7,500 participants signing up for the event before registration closed on Sept. 27, the earliest closing in history.

RELATED: American Birkebeiner registration closes, earliest in history

However, Birkebeiner Event Director Kristy Maki held a live Q&A on Facebook and YouTube Monday night.

In the virtual news conference, they confirmed the course will be reduced to a 10-kilometer loop, but the race itself will remain the same distance, with skiers making five trips around the loop if they are in the American Birkebeiner Skate SuperTour Elite wave.

All other American Birkebeiner races will be 30K, the Korpolet will be a 20K race, and the Prince Haakon will be a 10K race.

There will be two aid stations along the 10K course, one about 500 meters from the course and the second around six to seven kilometers according to Maki.

Participants will not be allowed to warm up or test wax before any events due to the limited amount of snow.

Spectators will still be allowed at the Trailhead.

Maki also mentioned that your finish time for this year will not account for your wave placement in the 2025 American Birkebeiner. Organizers will count your 2020, 2022, and 2023 for wave placement. The races will still be timed.

Birkebeiner organizers will be hosting daily live video updates on their YouTube and Facebook pages during Birkie week starting at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 20.

There will be no refunds, deferrals, or transfers for this year because the event is still on, but participants can switch events based on what they originally signed up for by next Thursday, below is the 2024 Eligible Transfer Table.

2024 Eligible Transfer Table(American Birkebeiner)

Organizers are planning to release Participant and Spectator Guides on Friday, Feb. 16.

They are still looking for volunteers and will have postings with open shifts on the volunteer page of their website.

The Spirit of 35 wave includes 35 intrepid skiers who finished the first Birkie in 1973 but have not been given a start time for this year as of now according to Maki.

For more information, you can visit the Slumberland American Birkebeiner website by clicking here or visit their 50th-anniversary page for information on this year’s race by clicking here.

All other Birkie Week events are to go on as planned with minor changes in times or locations as you can see listed below.

Tuesday, Feb. 20:

  • 4-7 p.m. Open Track Bib Pickup has been moved to the American Birkebeiner Trailhead.

Wednesday, Feb. 21:

  • Open track events to go on as planned on the shortened course.

Thursday, Feb. 22:

  • Adding an extra day of open track beginning at 9 a.m. for those competing in; the Kortelopet, American Birkebeiner skate race on Saturday, Feb. 24. or the American Birkebeiner Classic on Sunday, Feb. 25.
  • Giant Ski is to be held at 4 p.m. or 5 p.m. on Main Street.

Friday, Feb. 23:

  • Kortelopet Classic and Kortelopet Skate split into two races. The first wave of Kortelopet Classic is set for 8 a.m. while the Kortelopet Skate’s first wave is set for 1:30 p.m.
  • Kortelopet Classic Podium Celebration is now at 10 a.m., Kortelopet Skate Podium Celbration is now at 3 p.m.

Saturday, Feb. 24

  • American Birkebeiner Skate 30K start time is 7 a.m. for waves 1-2.
  • American Birkebeiner Skate SuperTour, Elite women’s 50K race start time is 10:30 a.m., Elite men’s 50K race start time is 10:45 a.m.
  • 50th Celebration Ceremony and Podium Awards to be held at 1 p.m. in the Celebration Area.
  • American Birkebeiner Skate 30K event waves 3-10 set for 1 p.m.

Sunday, Feb. 25:

  • American Birkebeiner Classic Elite 30K event first wave is set to begin at 8 a.m.
  • American Birkebeiner Classic 30K event waves 1-5 start time to be announced by Friday, Feb. 16.
  • Podium Awards in the Celebration Area at 11 a.m.

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