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Chris Schaffer of WCCO and Rita Wallin of Hudson share a smile at the Birbebeiner. Wallin completed her 10th Birkebeiner. See more photos and read the story in the print edition of the Feb. 28 Hudson Star Observer.

40th Birkebeiner welcomes the world

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The Italian men dominated the podium at the 40th American Birkebeiner Feb. 23, but local skiers were well represented. The American Birkebeiner began in 1973 as the dream of the late Tony Wise. Thirty-four men and one lone woman were on the starting line clad in woolen sweaters and knickers for the 50-kilometer race from the Lumberjack Bowl in Hayward to Telemark Lodge in Cable.

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There were no U.S. Ski Team members or foreign skiers, just a handful of enthusiasts from a couple of Midwestern states, out to try something new. Many of the entrants were on cross-country skis for the first season -- some for the first time.

The "Birkie" has evolved into a regional celebration with events spread over four days, in Hayward, Seeley, Cable and Telemark Resort.

Read more, see the results and photos in the print edition of the Feb. 28 Hudson Star Observer.

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