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Posts Tagged ‘American Birkebeiner’

Birkie Launches 5-Year Fundraising Campaign to Ensure Race’s Future

Wednesday, November 5th, 2014

Entering its 42nd year, the American Birkebeiner is doing everything it can to ensure Birkie fever continues, recently launching its first capital fundraising campaign to do so.

According to Tom Held of, the American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation (ASBF) is seeking $2.3 million to buy land for a permanent start area — securing some 75 acres of Telemark property — improve its 107 k trail system, and build an outdoor recreation center.

Start of the American Birkebeiner around the 1980s.

Start of the American Birkebeiner around the 1980s.

Annually, the Birkie makes slightly more than $1 million, according to ABSF Executive Director Ben Popp. That goes toward covering event expenses and annual trail maintenance, but is not enough to fund large-scale improvements.

“Over the past 12 months, in collaboration with the board of directors, I completed a 5-year strategic plan for the A.B.S.F., Popp wrote in a press release. “We have acknowledged the greatest risks to the foundation, as well as identified key opportunities that will create stability and increase our reach.”

The Birkie’s five-year campaign, “Honoring the Legacy – Ensuring the Future,” began Nov. 1 at the Rivers Eatery in Cable, Wis., a few miles away from the race’s historic start at Telemark Resort. At the kickoff fundraiser, more than 100 supporters jumpstarted the campaign, bringing its total up to more than $192,000, Held reported.

By the 2015 Birkie on Feb. 21, the ABSF aims to have raised $650,000 to complete phase one: securing a start area “built to last for next 100+ years – with permanent access,” according to, including a “large warm area/building,” additional pre-race facilities for water, bathrooms, etc., more convenient bus drop-offs, and year-round trail access to the Birkie course.

Phase one also includes finish-line improvements, such as “indoor changing facilities and food, easier gear bag layout, increased medical facilities,” and better traffic flow for spectators.

Held reported that, the ABSF planned to spend about $115,000 on buying roughly 75 acres of the Telemark Resort property, which would serve as a new start line for the 50 k Birkebeiner and 26 k Kortelopet.

The races attract more than 10,000 skiers annually, and traditionally starts on the runway at the Cable Municipal Airport, crossing Telemark property for the first few kilometers.

“Working with the current ownership group at Telemark, we have been given the opportunity to purchase a section of land to build out a permanent start line at Telemark,” Popp stated in the release.

According to Held, the ABSF reached a tentative deal with Clifton Lewis, who bought the Telemark property at a foreclosure sale a year ago. The foundation also plans to build a storage building that doubles as a warming hut.

“Additionally, in cooperation with the DOT, County, City and other interest groups, we will be able to re-construct the ‘International Bridge’ made famous by Tony Wise, this time in downtown Hayward, reducing traffic congestion, creating an improved flow for safety vehicles (and spectators), as well as providing access to services and infrastructure that improve safety and experience for all participants,” Popp wrote.

Popp estimated the start-line renovations would be completed by 2016 or 2017, but the finish-line improvements — with a skier bridge over Highway 63 and indoor food and changing areas in Hayward — were should be complete by the 2015 Birkie.

Phase two — which calls for $950,000 to improve the 107 k of Birkie Trail the ABSF maintains — is on the horizon for 2017. In addition to protecting the trail from erosion, the budget would also allow for installing water and potentially electricity at aide stations.

Phase three is the year-round outdoor recreation center for skiers, hikers and mountain bikers, set to cost about $650,000 and be complete by 2019.

The ABSF is holding its next fundraiser Nov. 20 at Borton Volvo in Golden Valley, Minn., with a live auction, prize giveaway, food, beer, and wine. Tickets are $50 each and the event is limited to 125 guests.

A second event will take place Dec. 4 at Stella Blues in Eau Claire, Wis., with $50 tickets limited to the first 90 guests.

Caitlin Gregg and Tom Reichelt win American Birkebeiner

Saturday, February 22nd, 2014

HAYWARD, WI—Caitlin Gregg (Team Gregg) and Tom Reichelt of Germany came out on top today in the American Birkebeiner. Gregg won the 50 k skate race in 2:40:57 after skiing away from the women’s field in the first half of the race. She made her break as the elite men’s wave, who started after the elite women’s wave, began catching the women. She hung on to the passing men and ended up skiing much of the race by herself before catching another ride with Matt Liebsch (Team StrongHeart) in the last few kilometers of the race. Antonella Confortola Wyatt of Italy placed second, 1:16 behind Gregg, while Rosie Brennan of Alaska Pacific University (APU) placed third, 2:05 back.

Gregg, Brennan, and Laura McCabe of Winthrop, WA were the top three Americans, in that order, with McCabe finishing in fifth overall. Gregg took home $10,000 for the day: $7,500 for the win and $2,500 for the top American finish in the race.

In the men’s race, Tom Reichelt narrowly edged out Italians Simone Paredi and Sergio Bonaldi to take home the win in 2:14:29. Paredi and Bonaldi finished in second and third place, respectively, and both were within one second of the win.

Matt Gelso of the Sun Valley Gold Team was the top male American finisher in seventh overall. Lex Treinen (APU) and Matt Liebsch were the next Americans, in 10th and 12th place.

Santi Ocariz, formerly of CXC, and Russian Natalja Naryshkina (CXC) were the male and female winners in the 54 k classic race.

Times were slow on the day—copious amounts of new snow and cold conditions made for a challenging race for much of the field.


Power Off at Telemark, Future of Historic Birkie Building Unclear

Thursday, November 21st, 2013
Telemark Resort (Photo: Tom Held)

Telemark Resort in Cable, Wis. (Photo: Tom Held/The Active Pursuit)

With questions swirling about whether Telemark Resort’s new owners would reopen the 40-year-0ld lodge in Cable, Wis. (the historic start of the American Birkebeiner), the community got an answer Tuesday when the power breakers were turned off.

Idle and without power since March, when the former owners stopped paying the bills and left town before the 975-acre property went to foreclosure, the 200-room resort had its power restored about a week ago. The new owners, Mount Telemark Properties, met with the Central Cross Country (CXC) Ski Association to discuss CXC’s interest in leasing and developing it into an Olympic training site, WDIO News reported.

James Bolen of the Cable Area Chamber told WDIO that CXC determined it did not have the expertise needed to run a hotel in conjunction with an Olympic center. Tom Held of The Active Pursuit reported that CXC did not want to take on the “enormous task of renovating and operating it, according to Oyvind Solvang, president of the CXC Board of Directors.” Solvang estimated the long-term renovations would cost between $2 million and $4 million, and it would require at least $500,000 to open the building this season.

“We were looking to keep it heated and perhaps do some events there, trying to accommodate the people who want to stay there for the Birkie, but to get from here to there was too insurmountable,” Solvang said. “It really isn’t feasible for CXC.”

A former Telemark employee who works for the current owners, Rick Carpenter told WDIO that the new owners bought the property (for $926,000 dollars at a sheriff’s sale) for the land, not the lodge. The deal with CXC would have included the lodge by donation and some surrounding land, he added, plus 135 acres of leased land and trails.

Bolen said the new owners are still seeking a hotel group to run the resort, and CXC will look elsewhere in Cable for a potential Olympic training site.

This summer, the American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation (ABSF) secured rights to their race’s starting area at Telemark for two more years. ABSF executive director Ben Popp told The Active Pursuit that he expected to work out an agreement with the new owners to make a permanent start in roughly six months.

Telemark Resort Sold to Colorado Company, Future Unclear

Tuesday, October 15th, 2013
telemark lodge

The historic Telemark Resort (ABSF photo)

Facing foreclosure since April 2013, Telemark Resort in Cable, Wis., the iconic start of the  American Birkebeiner, went to auction on Tuesday and sold to a Colorado-based private company, Newco, LLC.

Newco purchased the property at sheriff’s sale in Bayfield County Courthouse for $926,000 dollars. The only other bidder was the lien holder, Great Southern Bank in Missouri, according to a Birkie press release. The auction came after a Bayfield County judge ruled in favor or Great Southern Bank’s desire to pursue foreclosure of the historic lodge in August.

For fans of the American Birkebeiner, North America’s largest ski marathon entering its 41st year, the hope was that Great Southern Bank would purchase it and resell it to a group with plans of reopening the resort with ties to the U.S. Olympic Committee, WDIO reported.

Executive director of the Cable Chamber of Commerce James Bolen told WDIO Newco’s bid came as a surprise.

“The question is what they intend to do with it, they may not reopen the facility,” he said.

Newco hasn’t announced its intentions for the resort, but Bolen said they’d be meeting this week to discuss possible plans. The decision could be a huge blow or relief to the American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation, which recently hired a new executive director in Ben Popp.

“We have a 40 year history with Telemark … and for the past couple years we’ve been trying to secure a permanent start area at Telemark,” ABSF board member John Garrett told WDIO.

“Telemark has been an integral component of the history and legacy of the American Birkebeiner,”  Popp said in a press release. “We look forward to working with the new owners in creating great events for years to come!”

Under the former owners, Ric Ahern and Steve Kaufman with Telemark Properties, Telemark closed for what it called “spring cleaning,” and did not reopen. Court documents showed that the electricity was turned off in late March, and WDIO reported that a sign saying the resort would open in mid-May was still on the door.

Elliott, Brooks Notch Birkie Victories; Dubay Disqualified (Updated)

Saturday, February 25th, 2012

Note: This post has been updated to reflect Joe Dubay’s disqualification for racing in the wrong bib. Dubay finished first in the classic race, but was wearing the bib of his teammate at the College of Saint Scholastica, Chris Parr.

HAYWARD, Wis. — U.S. Ski Team member Tad Elliott and Holly Brooks of Alaska Pacific University outlasted their elite competition at the 39th American Birkebeiner on Saturday to win the men’s and women’s 50 k skate races, respectively.

Elliott broke away from the pack with about 15 kilometers to go, opening up a gap to more than 30 seconds with 6 k remaining. He beat former CXC teammate Matt Liebsch (Team Strong Heart/Team Birkie) by 13.7 seconds with a winning time of 2:04.48.5.

Brian Gregg (CXC) was third (+14.8), two-tenths of a second ahead of Canadian Michael Somppi (NDC Thunder Bay).

In the women’s race, Brooks beat Caitlin Gregg (CXC) to the line by 0.4 seconds, winning in 2:18.53.2. The two consistently led a pack of about a half dozen women throughout the 50 k and broke away with about 20 k to go. Jennie Bender (CXC) made her way to the front of the chase group and finished third (+2:53.1) in her first Birkie skate race. Bender won last year’s 54 k classic race.

Minnesota’s Joe Dubay (Saint Scholastica) was the first to cross the line in the men’s classic race on Saturday, but was later disqualified for racing in a bib that belonged to his teammate at the College of Saint Scholastica, Chris Parr.

David Chamberlain of Boulder Nordic Sport, who was originally second but a small margin, moved to first. Norway’s decorated Olympian, Vegard Ulvang placed third.

In the women’s classic race, Hayward’s own Carolyn Ocariz (CXC) won her first Birkie in 3:03.10.9, more than two minutes ahead of Canadian Brandy Stewart, who was second. Hilary Patzer of St. Paul was third (+2:39.0)


Video from elite men’s finish

More video from elite finish, including women





What’s the Wax? Birkie Tips

Friday, February 24th, 2012

HAYWARD, Wis. — The American Birkebeiner expo was jumping with athletes on Friday afternoon, many of which buzzed around industry tables seeking advice from ski professionals.

What’s the wax?

With temperatures expected to be in the 20′s later Saturday morning, most everyone was recommending blue.


Here are a few tips from the service pros as seen on their websites or expo newsletters:

Boulder Nordic Sport:

  • Ski Selection: Early waves: med to stiff flex cold ski, Later Waves: Medium flex Cold Ski.
  • Stone Grinds: Skating S1.3 (CV0), S1.2 (S1-0x), S0.2 (0.55), S2.2 (S2-1x), Classic: C1.2 (XTi2), C2.2 (Li2), C0.2 (ZR1XL).
  • Base Layer: SkiGo LF Graphite
  • Race Paraffin: Holmenkol Matrix Blue or Ski*Go HF Blue
  • Fluoro Powder: Holmenkol Mid 08 or Solda HP05 or Ski*Go C105
  • Topcoat: Holmenkol Speedblock Cold
  • Structure: Holmenkol Structure Tool (one roller) or Finite L04/AF10
  • Kick: Clean the kick zone, rough up kick zone with sandpaper, iron in a binder layer of Toko Green hard wax/binder. We tested quite a lot of kick wax Friday at 10AM and found the following recommendations. Conditions on race morning are supposed to be colder, with more new snow possible, so this may need to be adjusted on race morning!
  • Guru Green for those who are skiing early and have solid technique.
  • Rode Super Extra for those in later waves or who need a little extra kick. It had great kick and was the fastest of everything we tried except Rode Super Extra has better kick and is still almost as fast as Guru Green. SkiGo HF Blue was also quite good, although with the new snow coming, SkiGo HF Violet might be a better choice.


Fast Wax:

  • Glide Wax: Apply 2 layers of HSF 20 Tan over 1 layer of HSLF-20 Blue. Top coat with Flite Cold, Iron in using the Fast Wax Base Saver
  • Grip Wax Options: (Make sure to rough up your wax pocket with 100 grit sand paper before waxing)
  • Iron in Rode Black Binder, cork in and let cool, then cover with several layers of Rode Multigrade Blue or Rode Multigrade Purple, –> Rode Violet Special
  • Iron in Rex Blue Power Grip or Grip Tape then add a layer of Rode Multigrade Blue or Rode Mutligrade Purple –> Rode Violet Special


Start Wax:

  • Glide: Start Blue for snow 10F-20F: It will be a high humidity day with plenty of moisture and dirt. The more Fluor skiers use, the faster the skis will be throughout the race. … The skiers in the back 1/3 will have air temps above this range but the snow will remain colder and with the extra dirt farther back, Blue is still ideal. Choose between SG6, FG16, LF07 or HF70 based on your budget and goals. Two layers of Blue with your highest Fluor on top. … For 100% Start Speed use SF10g or SFR 99 block or Nano N7 — 100% Finishing Fluors.
  • Kick: Start Blue. Iron in Base Wax on roughed up kick zone to keep your kick in your kick zone for 22 km or 54 km. Add 5-8 thin layers of RF Blue. RF Blue has the widest temp range 14-15F of all our blues and has a lot of Fluor for dirst and moisture. Terva Tar Blue (the poor man’s Fluor) would be another good option for those that have it but we would recommend the durable Synthetic Blue under it for durability.



  • Glidewax: All waves, both techniques: Apply LF Moly, scrape and brush, then apply HF Blue, scrape and brush. Finish by rotocorking JetStream Blue, brush with a dedicated nylon polishing brush and polish with a thermopad. “Quick ironing” the JetStream Blue and corking over it is also a great option. See for demonstration.
  • Gripwax: Rough kick zone with 150 grit sandpaper, apply Nordic Base Wax Green, iron in, cork smooth, let cool. Then apply one layer of Nordic GripWax Blue, cork smooth, and cover with Base Wax Green, cork smooth. Then Blue, Green, Blue, all full length of zone. Follow with Green, Blue, Green, Blue, in middle of kick zone. Later waves should carry GripWax Red and a cork.
  • Structure: A fine linear structure covered by one pass with the Blue Structurite tool (before JetStream application) will best suit these conditions.


Click here for a complete list of Birkie expo vendors and website links.