February 24, 2017 10:29 PM
Organizers have canceled the American Birkebeiner, North America's largest cross-country ski race, due to a lack of snow, but will hold a smaller event at the trailhead.
It had been clear since early in the week that there was not enough snow for the Birkie to follow its usual route, and a storm that moved through the region early Friday did not drop enough snow to save the race on the northern part of the trail.
Organizers say three to four inches was the minimum needed snowfall for the Saturday races to happen.
Besides the Birkie, the Kortelopet and Prince Haakon cross-country ski races -- originally scheduled for Friday -- are also canceled.
"While we know Birkie, Korte, and Prince Haakon skiers are disappointed with this announcement, I am confident that the [American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation] staff did everything within their power to preserve the trail for a safe race," said Ben Popp, ABSF Executive Director. "We know that the Birkie is so much more than a race to so many. Birkie skiers are passionate about the overall experience. It is in that Birkie Fever spirit that we’re excited to celebrate the love of Nordic sports with skiers and spectators alike at the American Birkebeiner Trailhead. It’ll be a Birkie celebration like none-other!"
Buses will begin transporting riders from the Como Parking Lot to the American Birkebeiner Trailhead at 9:30 on Saturday morning. Skiers will be able to use a 5k loop around the trailhead, and can go through the loop multiple times.
Live music and food will be offered in the afternoon, and demos of ski gear and fat bikes that had been scheduled for Sunday have been moved to Saturday.
"There's Birkie beer and brats, a bunch of vendors so hopefully it will be just a big celebration of skiing up at the new Birkie start line," said Popp.
Trail conditions are still thin and almost impassable. Organizers are in the process of gathering as much snow as they can from surrounding areas to fill in bare spots for the 5k loop.
The American Birkebeiner attracted more than 13,000 skiers from 46 states and 22 countries last year. An additional 25,000 to 30,000 spectators saw last year's race.
A complete list of Birkie events is available at www.Birkie.com.
Updated: February 24, 2017 10:29 PM
Created: February 24, 2017 11:54 AM
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