Sunny skies and smiling faces for Friday’s Birkie events

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Despite this week’s storm, many have been attending the 49th Annual American Birkebeiner races in Hayward.

“We really lucked out that the wind died down,” said Event Director Kristy Maki. “That causes a lot of problems with all of our signage and banners that we have up. So it’s nice to have a nice, calm day and have the sunshine in. Makes it feel a lot warmer.”

While the main event is on Saturday, there are several races in the days leading up and skiers can participate in.

“We’ve never done a full, we’re a half-ers. 29 kilometers is enough for us,” said Racer Katie Lucey.

Lucey’s husband got her into cross-country skiing. Now, the two of them participate in the Kortelopet alongside her sister Anne Mongoven each year.

“Both of us grew up in Cedarburg, Wisconsin, but didn’t grow up skiing. So it’s something that we picked up later in life,” Lucey explained.

Mongoven flew from her home in Denver to Milwaukee, where Lucey and her husband live. The trio then took a road trip together to participate in this year’s event.

“It’s nice to have something physical to work toward. Keeps us excited about the winter, which can be long in the Midwest and makes us wish for snow,” said Lucey.

Mongoven wants to race in the full Birkie one day. Lucey hopes to start a family tradition by eventually having her now seven-year-old participate in the Birkie.