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Off the Editor’s Desk 1-31-2024

It’s wintertime!

Although the weather does not feel like winter, it is officially that time of year, and this past weekend it felt more like spring. A quick look at my cell phone and the picture I took last January 31st of the thermometer in my car, which indicated the outside temperature at twenty-nine below zero, so we could still have that bitter cold snap yet to come.

I drove to Hayward for the weekend and thought about their annual Birkebeiner Ski Race and this year it is their 50th anniversary of the event.

According to a press release, Birkebeiner officials “may be forced to scale back, but they say Birke week will not be cancelled.” 

The event starts at Cable and travels for 53 Kilometers through the north woods and crosses Lake Hayward to the finish line in downtown Hayward.

Organizers expected over 14,000 skiers for the annual event and that the lack of snow isn’t going to ruin the fun. Blair Flickinger, marketing director for the race said, “It’s non-negotiable, we will be doing something in Hayward during the Birkie week. I would say we are cautiously optimistic about the lack of snow.”

Officials say, “as long as the air stays cold, the race will go on, even if conditions won’t allow skiers to reach the traditional finish line in Hayward.”

The race goes just in front of our cabin on Lake Hayward, the accompanying photo I took four years ago as I stood on the lake at the edge of the Birke trail, was about a mile short of the finish line. These were some of the first racers to come across the lake. The young and good skiers come in front of us about 10 a.m. and other skiers are still on the trail late in the afternoon.

Several years ago, I with other members of my family were near the trail as it comes onto Lake Hayward and one skier stopped and asked if I could take his coach, on my snowmobile to near the finish line. I took him the length of the lake and onto the back parking lot of Market Place Foods as that was as close to the end that I could get. He exited my snowmobile and with a Scandinavian accent said; “thank you wery well.”

At present the officials of the race are hoping Mother Nature will come through with a few big storms late in the season to allow the annual event to be run. The Birkebeiner has only been canceled two times in its 50-year-history. The most recent cancellation happened in 2017 when unprecedented rain and warm air created a mess. 

And if you are interested in the Birke, the event starts on February 21 with the big race on Saturday, February 24th.

Thanks for reading!     ~Carlton

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