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Birkie Adds New Classic Ski Trail to 2007 Race

Wed, Nov  8, 2006 - By Leslie Hamp

HAWYARD, Wis., November 2006 – At a recent board meeting, the American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation (ABSF) Board of Directors unanimously approved the use of the new 9-kilometer classic ski trail for the 2007 race. The new trail begins at the Cable Union Airport, takes a different route through the Birkie terrain, and merges back into the Birkie Trail at Timber Trail Road in Bayfield County.

“This is a win-win for both classic and skate skiers,” said Executive Director Ned Zuelsdorff. “Classic skiers will get better tracks throughout the season and on race day, and skate skiers will experience less congestion and more space. We think it will entice more skiers and participants.”

Birkie Founder, Board member and classic skier John Kotar agrees.

“This new trail shows our commitment to classical skiers,” Kotar said. “There are many out there who feel left out because the freestyle race does not suit them. I think this new trail will go a long way to bringing in some of those skiers who have never taken up skating but would otherwise partake in the race.”

Zuelsdorff said the Board made the decision to use the new classic trail segment, in part, based on feedback from a 2006 survey of classic skiers. Of the 770 surveyed,

  • 42% favored an early start wave for classic skiers (departing before skaters)
  • 29% favored a separate classic only race on a different day
  • 32% favored a separate classic course
  • 48% favored seeding classic skiers in waves based solely on other classic skier times
  • 57% favored the creation of two tracks set on one side of the trail all the way to the finish line

Zuelsdorff said the feedback is critical information that will be taken into account during future planning. Many suggestions, he said, are already in the works.

“The new 9-kilometer trail is the start of a separate classic course that could be expanded upon in upcoming years,” he said. “During the 2007 race we will add two tracks set on one side of the trail all the way to the finish line, and we will likely seed classic skiers in waves based solely on other classic skier times beginning in 2008.”

ABSF Board of Directors President Bill Pierce said the board is striving to attract more classic skiers, not just skiers changing from the skating technique to the classic technique.

“Our long-term goal is to draw new skiers,” he said. “The classic technique is dominant in Worldloppet races in Norway, Sweden and Italy. We want to increase classic skiing here too.”

Zuelsdorff said the cost of building the new trail was greatly reduced when generous donors stepped forward with more than $10,000 in contributions, and hard-working volunteers spent many hours making the trail a reality.

Maintenance of the new trail will cost $4,000 per year. In addition to using a portion of the existing trail budget to cover costs, the ABSF Board of Directors will be seeking kilometer-marker sponsors to help offset costs.

Birkie events take place from February 22-24, 2007. More than 7,000 skiers are expected to register for the Subaru American Birkebeiner and Kortelopet sponsored by the State Bank of Drummond and Cable Chamber of Commerce. Another 2,000 are expected in other races and events including:

  • 12K Johnson Bank Prince Haakon for those not quite ready for the 51 or 23 kilometer races
  • CenturyTel Junior Birkie for skiers between the ages of 10-18,
  • Sons of Norway/Swiss Miss Barnebirkie for kids ages 3-13,
  • Cheqtel 5K/10K Race for Families,
  • Salomon Elite Sprints competition between the world's fastest skiers, and
  • Ski for the Cure II for skiers raising funds in the fight against breast cancer.
For more information about North America’s largest cross country ski race or to register for one of the races held during Birkie 2007, log on to, email or call 715/634-5025.

About the Birkie: Celebrating its 34th year, the American Birkebeiner (1-800-USA-BRKE;, February 22-24, 2007, is North America's largest and most prestigious cross-country ski marathon. Spanning 51 kilometers from Cable to Hayward, the Birkie is one of 14 races in the Worldloppet international circuit, part of the American Ski Marathon series of 14 races, and part of the lives of citizen skiers from all walks of life and from around the world. Sponsors of Birkie 2007 include Subaru, State Bank of Drummond, Cable Chamber of Commerce, Johnson Bank, Superior Publishing and other businesses throughout the region and country. Find out more at or call 715/634-5025.