Celebrating winter in Hayward, Wisconsin

Last weekend we ventured to Hayward, Wisconsin to enjoy the American Birkebeiner (aka the Birkie).  The largest cross-country ski race in North America draws thousands of people – skiers, friends, family, observers – to this small north woods town.  Weather conditions were much more favorable this year as there was an excess of snow for the course.  As the skiers make their way across Hayward Lake and enter the town, they ski up the Birkie Bridge which takes them over US Highway 63 and then down Main Street to the finish line.  Spectators crowd the sidewalks of Main Street ringing cow bells, cheering, and offering encouragement while celebrating with brats, beer, Bloody Marys, and cheese curds.  It’s a wonderful celebration of winter and the athletes.

36th annual American Birkebeiner ski race

birkie-start-38278_staatsThe largest cross-country ski race in North America was held this past Saturday – the American Birkebeiner (affectionately known as The Birkie, the Boston Marathon of Skiing).  A total of 7,461 skiers registered for the various races including the 50K Birkie Skate, 54K Birkie Classic, 23K Kortelopet, and the Prince Haakon 8K.  With skiers from over 20 foreign countries and close to all 50 United States it is truly a festive event. This photo is from the race start in Cable, Wisconsin at the Telemark Resort.  The course runs through the hills and forests of the area,  and ends on Main Street in Hayward.  Saturday was a great day for skiing (and for spectating — which is what I did).  Temps were in the teens, with a light snow falling.  We went to the start line to witness all the excitement and fun that precedes an event like this, then we made our way to Hayward and the finish line.  Main Street is closed to traffic, snow is brought in to cover the street, and spectators line the course ringing bells and cheering on the skiers.    My congrats to all the participants — I admire their training, their commitment, and their love of the sport; and to the volunteers and spectators who know how to celebrate and enjoy a beautiful winter day in central Wisconsin!   For more information, check out  www.birkie.com