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,
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: