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Birkie Skiers May Face Weather Challenges On Race Course and Off

Northwoods travelers to this weekend’s American Birkebeiner ski race may face a snowy trip.  

More than ten thousand skiers from 21 countries are flocking to Hayward, many braving significant snow and ice.

Rhinelander resident Joel Knutson delayed his travel plans until Friday morning in hopes of letting the storm pass.  He says the weather just adds another layer of logistics. 

“And then you add that to the already-neurotic pre-race preparation of wax, and lodging and food – it makes for a pretty interesting mental cocktail!”

Organizers are urging travelers to use caution and allow plenty of time.  But Birkebeiner spokesperson Susan Kendrick says snow during race week has happened before. 

“Last year we actually had about nine inches of new snow on Friday. So to get it a day ahead of time is actually better. It gives our groomers a chance to get out and prepare the trail, which is in great shape and they’re expert at keeping it that way.”

The 50 and 54 kilometer races take place Saturday but other events get underway a day earlier.  And Kendrick says even though snow is generally good for skiing, new snow isn’t ideal. 

“We’ve had so much great snow this winter, and we’ve been rolling it and packing it, tilling it and grooming it since those very first snows in December. To get a lot of snow now, what happens is it can get kind of churned up on race day.”

Competitors are being advised to expect longer race times due to conditions.  

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