Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Non-Race Report: American Birkie and Party

By now everyone knows the American Birkie was canceled for lack of snow, but certainly not for lack of trying!  Per and Sandy were there anyway and were able to enjoy all the race-related festivities the race organizers could muster up for the disappointed skiers.  As one long-time Birchlegger wrote, training for 2018 begins today!  Many thanks to Per for sending us this report.  (photos from the American Birkebeiner Facebook page)

We waited for several days in Hayward for temperatures to go down, and they did on Thursday, but not before nearly all the snow had melted.  At the same time our hopes were raised by a forecast of a major winter storm which would bring 8 to 12 inches of snow on Friday.  The storm just grazed us to the south and we received a small dusting.  So the organizers of the ski race provided daily updates about the possibility of a race.  The odds went down to "less than 1%" on Thursday, and finally, they cancelled the race, for just the second time since 1973.

Instead they had a "Birkiefest" at the starting line, complete with a short loop ski trail made from stored corn snow, and tents that sold brats, beer, waffles, and soup.  The temperatures were cold and the ground was covered with ice and dirt.  Still, the faithful showed up in great numbers, many with their numbers on, and most seemed happy.  My guess is that 2-3,000 people attended.  (ed.note: the Birkie Facebook page claims there were between 8,000 and 10,000 partiers!)  

I felt most sorry for the locals who had counted on a big financial bonanza from the thousands of visitors.  Obviously, many skiers and their families went home early and they didn't leave as much money as the merchants had hoped for.

However, we still had a fine time visiting old friends and enjoying Joe and Cheri's hospitality. We also took advantage of the pleasant temperatures to go for some long walks on the roads around here.

Now, home to Washington, where we have tons of snow in the mountains.  Skiing into April, probably.

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