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New Trails & New Grooming Equipment for Birkie

Sun, Feb  3, 2008 - By Leslie Hamp & Cherie Morgan

HAYWARD, Wis., January 30, 2008 – As skiers prepare for the 35th annual American Birkebeiner cross country ski races slated February 21-23, 2008 in Cable and Hayward, Wis., groomers are working their magic on the Birkie Trail with a new Pisten Bully grooming machine.

A fundraising campaign last fall allowed the American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation (ABSF) to purchase the new grooming equipment and also expand the Birkie Classic Trail to 15.5 kilometers, and cold temps and ample snow are providing ideal grooming conditions for setting tracks.

That's good news for the more than 9,000 skiers expected to participate in the Subaru American Birkebeiner, the 23-kilometer Kortelopet sponsored by the State Bank of Drummond and Cable Chamber of Commerce, the Barnebirkie sponsored by Salomon and Swiss Miss for kids ages 3-13, the Elite Sprints for the world’s fastest skiers, the CenturyTel Junior Birkie for kids ages 10-18, the Cheqtel 5K/10K for every member of the family, and the 12K Johnson Bank Prince Haakon for skiers wanting a shorter distance event on the Birkie Trail.

“Groomers have been using the new equipment to groom the Birkie Trail, which has a 5- to 6-inch base from the start line at Telemark Resort to Lake Hayward,” said Ned Zuelsdorff, Executive Director of the American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation (ABSF). “The grooming crew groomed north of Cty. Hwy. OO last night, and they will groom the south half of the trail today. The Trails are in very good to excellent condition, and skiing conditions remain outstanding.”

The blast of frigid temps set the stage for grooming and final preparations for the 35th annual American Birkebeiner. As five trail groomers, one trail supervisor and a head of equipment maintenance focus their efforts on setting tracks, Birkie staff are busy processing registrations that flood into the office on a daily basis. Meanwhile, the regional community is preparing to welcome the 9,000 skiers and 15,000 spectators who will flock to northern Wisconsin race week.

Making those skiers and spectators happy is important to businesses in Hayward, Cable and the surrounding area. A Wisconsin Department of Tourism survey during Birkie 2000 found that skiers spend an average of $145.62 per person, per day. They stay an average of 2.9 nights spending time and money at local restaurants, retail outlets, regional attractions, and hotels, motels, and bed and breakfast inns.

It totals up to an estimated $4 million in five days.

"These visitors have a huge impact on our economy while also providing us with a rare opportunity to showcase the beauty of the northland to the world,” said James Bolen, Executive Director of the Cable Area Chamber of Commerce. “Along with the State Bank of Drummond, the Cable Area Chamber is honored to sponsor the Kortelopet and to welcome thousands of guests to our community."

Zuelsdorff encourages those hoping someday to take the Birkie challenge to register today for one of the many races and events that pepper the three-day event.

“This anniversary year is the year to take the Birkie challenge,” he said. “We have races and events from 1 kilometer to 53 kilometers to accommodate elite or recreational skiers as well as adults and kids. It’s quick and easy to find out what’s going on at www.birkie.com, and it’s quick and easy to register online or download the registration form and fax it to the Birkie office. The deadline for online and faxed race registrations is Sunday, February 17, and we’ll be taking registrations in person until Friday, February 22 at 8 p.m. We encourage skiers to call us at 715.634.5025 for more information. We want as many participants as possible enjoying race weekend and special 35th anniversary events.”

To learn more about North America’s largest and most prestigious cross country ski race and to register for races and events, log on to http://www.birkie.com, email birkie@birkie.com or call 715/634-5025.

Sponsors of Birkie 2008 include Subaru, State Bank of Drummond, Cable Chamber of Commerce, Johnson Bank, Sawyer County Record and Superior Publishing, and other businesses throughout the region and country.