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Zack Simons and Kate Whitcomb Claim Victory at Birkie 2007

Sun, Feb  25, 2007 - By Birkie


Patrick Weaver, Bend, Orgeon, skied to a second-place finish in 1:09:08.2 followed by Eli Enman, Huntington, Vermont, with a third-place time of 1:09:09.9.

In the women's field, Whitcomb was trailed by Martina Stursova, originally from the Czech Republic and now living in Albuquerque, New Mexico, who took second with a time of 1:18:08.9. Abigail Larson, Salt Lake City, Utah, finished third with a time of 1:18:09.8.

“I couldn’t believe I won when I crossed the line,” said Simons. “With icy conditions the past couple days, I wasn’t sure what to expect. The start was hurting for snow but organizers did a great job.”

“Organizers put in the time,” Weaver said. “You couldn’t tell there was only an inch of snow.”

“The easy thing would have been to cancel,” Enman said.

Female champ Kate Whitcomb said it felt “unreal to have a win in an event like the Birkie. I naturally wanted to be in the top three. I’ll have this on my resume and in my heart the rest of my life.”

Larson and Stursova agreed it was a thrill to be on the podium and expressed gratitude to organizers for all the preparations to make the race happen under difficult circumstances.

Mother Nature, an unruly player in all 2007 race decisons made by the American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation, didn’t cooperate with officials when it came to sending sufficient snow for a full 51-kilometer race. For the second time in its 34-year history, the Birkebeiner was shortened to a 25-kilometer race, this time for 265 elite skiers only.

6,708 Birkie and Kortelopet skiers participated in an untimed, non-competitive, ‘open-track’ event with Birkie skiers finishing at Highway OO and Kortelopet skiers finishing a shortened 18K race at Telemark Resort. 190 Prince Haakon skiers started and finished their 8K race at Telemark Resort.

Ned Zuelsdorff, Executive Director of the American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation, welcomed skiers from 20 foreign nations, including Japan, Estonia and Russia, and 45 U.S states, including Arizona, Georgia and Alaska.

Honorary Starter Mark Ernst, 30-year Birkie skier from Green Bay, Wis., sent the elite skiers on their way for a competitive 25-kilometer race that finished at Highway OO in Seeley. Ernst was selected as honorary starter in recognition of his contributions as a competitor, supporter and ambassador for the Birkie.

Phillip Schaefer, 30-year Birkie skier, and son Michael, 10-year Birkie skier strided along the 25K race dressed as the traditional Birkebeiner soldiers who rescued Baby Prince Haakon 800 years ago. The Birkebeiner soldiers became a Norwegian symbol of courage, perseverance and character in the face of adversity, and the 800- year-old legend inspired the American Birkebeiner ski race that turned Cable and Hayward into a skiing mecca.

“I’m pleased with the outcome of today’s events,” said Zuelsdorff. “The conditions made it a difficult call, but skiers took it in stride and were pleased to be able to be on the Birkie Trail. This was the best option given the course conditions. Skiers were, for the most part, pleased with the low-key, non-competitive, ‘open-track’ event.”

For race day results, log on to www.birkie.com.

Birkie 2007 is sponsored by Subaru, State Bank of Drummond, Cable Chamber of Commerce, Johnson Bank, Superior Publishing and other businesses throughout the region and country.