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Birkie opens new classic trail

Fri, Dec  19, 2008 - By Cherie Morgan

HAYWARD, Wis. – As skiers prepare for the 36th 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 6 inches of fresh snow which blanketed the region.

“The snow we received over the weekend was the perfect addition to the base we already had on the trails. We now have a 3 to 4 inch base from the north end of the trails to Lake Hayward,” said Ned Zuelsdorff, Executive Director of the American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation (ABSF). “The grooming crew is working on the trail and rolled the trails north from Cty. Hwy. OO to Lake Hayward last night. Additional grooming will take place over the next two days and the trails will be in very good to excellent condition.”

In addition to the Birkie Trail the grooming crew has also been busy grooming the new Birkie Classic Trail.

“We are very excited to announce that the new Classic Trail is open for skiing,” said Zuelsdorff. “Later this week skiers will enjoy very good skiing conditions on the new trail and witness the work of thousands of volunteer hours. The trail will be groomed for skating and we will set tracks as soon as we can.”

“The 27 kilometer Classic Trail was built over the past three summers,” said Zuelsdorff.  “It was made possible through generous donations from hundreds of skiers, businesses and organizations, and a State Trail grant that provided the $106,000 needed to build the trail, as well as the work of many volunteers.”

The Classic Trail will carry skiers from the start area at Telemark Resort just past the “OO” crossing at the Birkie half-way point resulting in a 54 kilometer length Birkie Classic Race. The companion Skate Race on the world famous Birkie Trail will be 50 kilometers in length.

The Classic and Skate races will start in multiple and separate waves and run simultaneously on the adjacent trails which separate 600 meters from the start line. The trails share a section on the stretch known as the Powerline and touch again at various food stations. They finally join together just south of “OO” for the final 26 kilometers to finish in downtown Hayward.

The 23K Kortelopet Skaters and Classic skiers will ski on these separate trails until they meet at the second food station at Timber Trail (9K) where they will come together and share the Kortelopet Trail for the remaining 14 kilometers to the finish line at Telemark Resort.

In conjunction with the opening of the new Classic Trail for skiing the American Birkebeiner is also announcing that several new kilometers of trail are available for sponsorship under its Birkie Trail Friends fundraising campaign.

“Just in time to receive a 2008 tax deduction skiers and supporters can become a sponsor of the Birkie Trail Friends program,” said Zuesldorff. “Interested individuals, families, businesses, organizations and groups can pick their favorite kilometer along the Birkie Trail, Birkie Classic Trail and Kortelopet Trail, submit the sponsorship fee and become a three year sponsor.”

Support of the Birkie Trail Friend program supports the American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation’s annual trail maintenance budget of over $100,000.

“Several kilometers have already been sponsored,” said Zuelsdorff. “A small Birkie Trail Friends plaque is installed on each kilometer post identifying the Sponsor and recognizing their support, without detracting from the natural beauty of the trail.”

Zuelsdorff says supporting the program is easy and more information is available on the Trail page at http://www.birkie.com.

More than 9,500 skiers are expected to participate in the 50K American Birkebeiner, the 54K Birkie Classic presented by Subaru, and the 23K Kortelopet presented by new sponsor Premier Physical Medicine and Wellness Clinic. 

“We’re very happy to announce that Premier Physical Medicine and Wellness Clinic (PPMWC) is a Presenting Sponsor of the Kortelopet,” said Zuelsdorff, who added, “Our events would not be possible without the support of our sponsors.”

PPMWC is a progressive state of the art clinic opening in Woodruff, Wisconsin, on December 29, 2008. The clinic is owned by longtime Birkie skiers, Dr. Jim Mullen and Diane Mullen. Jim and Diane both say they are proud to sponsor the Kortelopet race of the American Birkebeiner. Jim has skied 17 Birkies and continues to ski out of the Elite wave. Diane skied ten Birkies before having children.

“We’re very happy to be able to support the event which has meant so much to us and other cross-country skiers, said Diane. “We are strongly committed to enhancing functional training and rehabilitation for all ages.  Dr. Mullen is also pleased to provide services for the CXC elite team.”

Other American Birkebeiner events include 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 8K Johnson Bank Prince Haakon for skiers wanting a shorter distance event on the Birkie Trail.

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 year is the year to take the Birkie challenge,” he said. “We have races and events from 1 kilometer to 54 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.  We encourage skiers to call us at 715.634.5025 or email us at birkie@birkie.com for more information. We want as many participants as possible to ‘Live the Birkie’ enjoying race weekend and 36th anniversary events.”

Birkie 2009 is sponsored by Subaru, Premier Physical Medicine and Wellness Clinic, Johnson Bank, Sawyer County Record and Superior Publishing and other businesses throughout the region and country.