The Birkie Turns 35 (page 3)
"The new Classic Trail will benefit all skiers with better tracks for classic skiers and an additional skate lane for skaters on the Birkie Trail," says Zuelsdorff. "Those changes, coupled with alternating five-minute wave starts, should guarantee a better event for everybody."
Zuelsdorff said another highlight of the 35th anniversary is the welcome ceremony to commemorate the vision of race founder Tony Wise. "We are encouraging skiers to commemorate the 35th anniversary by wearing traditional clothing and participating in a ski up Mt. Valhalla at Telemark Resort during Friday's welcome ceremony. We'll award prizes for attire and we'll unveil an historic musical DVD to observe the evolution of the race and the spirit of Birkie skiers."
Zuelsdorf has been perhaps the most hands-on of any Birkie executive director since the incorporation of the American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation in 1985. He’s not afraid to get his hands dirty and has been central to the conception and execution of the development of the new Classic Trail.
The new trail roughly parallels the original Birkie trail, traversing similar terrain and tying back to the main trail at each food station. At approximately 25 feet or wider, the new trail is groomed for skating with two classic tracks throughout the season and for the race will be tracked for classic only. When completed next year, the new Birkie Classic will connect to the Highway OO crossing in Seeley at approximately 23 km. Since the north half of the trail typically receives better snowfall, even in low snow years, it is anticipated that in a worst case weather scenario a looped course could be configured to provide a full marathon distance race, rather than terminating the event at the half-way point as in 1998 and 2007 or, worse yet, canceling.
In the 35 years since the inaugural event, 189,285 men and women have donned skinny skis to participate in the American Birkebeiner and its sister event, the Kortelopet. Thousands of others have participated in shorter races and events catering to youth, teens, families and recreational skiers.
"Birkie 2008 will be a fantastic tribute to Tony Wise, a recognition of the Birkie's historic roots and a celebration of all the skiers, sponsors, volunteers and businesses who have driven the event for 35 years," Zuelsdorff said. "We encourage new skiers, long-time skiers from the U.S. and abroad, and spectators to join us for a really great week."
More than 7,000 skiers are expected to register for the 35th anniversary American Birkebeiner and Kortelopet, with another 2,000 expected to participate in the shorter races and events. To learn more about North America's largest and most prestigious cross country ski race, visit www.birkie.com.
P.S. The 35th anniversary is the Coral or Jade anniversary.