[two_third]The American Birkebeiner has been around since 1973. 35 dedicated and determined skiers were on the starting line in 1973 and this year there were over 13,000 racers and over 30,000 people in attendance, 2500 volunteers, 4500 rented hotel rooms and over 20 million dollars in revenue all focused on nordic skiing. This year the course was fast and firm for the 44th Slumberland American Birkebeiner Ski Marathon. Anders Gloersen, Oslo, Norway took the men’s title and Caitlin Gregg, Minneapolis, MN, skied into the record books with her fifth victory, the most wins ever, man or woman. Caitlin Gregg finished with a time of 2:23:30.3 in the 50K freestyle race, just 2.5 seconds before Maria Graefnings of Sweden with a time of 2:23:32.9. Chelsea Holmes of Girdwood, Alaska, rounded out the podium with a time of 2:23:34.2 for third place. In the men’ freestyle race, Gloersen raced to the finish with a time of 2:02:29.6, with Ivan Perrillat-Boiteux, France, just 1.9 seconds behind with a time of 2:02:31.6. On his heels, third place went to American Kyle Bratrud, of Verona, Wisconsin with a time of 2:02:33.1.
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We had our roving Wisconsin reporter Chad Kosin in attendance at the event we got breakdown of the event as it happened.
- As we arrived on Friday at noon I quickly realized this isn’t like all the other outdoor events I have attended. This is THE BIRKIE
- Its wall to wall people, crazy traffic, and cowbells..yes cowbells everywhere!
- The whole town is working itself into a fenzy, an electric environment of soul pounding excitement!
- The food is exceptional and the community is rallying around this amazing event.
- Its amazing, even the schools shut down on Friday. With all the commotion, all the traffic, and all the people. We never waited in line anywhere longer than 5 minutes. The whole town brought there “A” game for sure. The wonderful people who tirelessly put on this event are the real hero’s here. I politely made my way into town, thru the traffic and found the birkie headquarters. And to find out its right next to the world famous International Birkie Bridge.
- We acquired our passes, badges, and media bibs. And off we went.
- Skiers from Fridays Kortelopet race were heading over the bridge and I was in awe.
- While I can skate ski, and can downhill, snowboard and waterski. Being a true racer in any sense of the world I am not. These are true pro athletes who train for years to get to this level.
- The competitive nature of these skiers blows me away.
- From beginners, they have smaller shorter races all week. To the single working mom who uses her practice time as her time to get in shape, clear her head and clarify her mind. We witnessed a few well aged entrants, to very young as well.
- We also realized that the equipment used in todays birkie are not that of my youth. Fast light skis, next generation waxes, and boots that look like they came from the future. All coordinated into a smooth motion that made for fast times for the skiers.
- The coolest thing about the Birkie, the sights, the noise. The people. The racers. It was a heck of a party. The noise and people make this event.
- I can’t wait to get back to see the Fat Tire Birkie!!
- I can’t recommend this event enough, it’s exciting to watch and the towns hosting the Birkie are the best people around.