Local skiers well represented at 39th BirkebeinerMany people were of the belief the 39th American Birkebeiner would be canceled because of the lack of snow throughout the Midwest. Luckily, Hayward and the Birkebeiner Trail have been blessed with snow the entire winter.
By: By Mark Gherty, Hudson Star-Observer
Many people were of the belief the 39th American Birkebeiner would be canceled because of the lack of snow throughout the Midwest. Hayward and the Birkebeiner Trail have been blessed with snow the entire winter. But, because of the lack of snow this season, for most of the 8,000 participants in the 50K/54K cross country ski marathon the race was the first day of skiing in 2012.
The American Birkebeiner is a 50K/54K (Skate/Classical) cross country ski marathon traversing Bayfield and Sawyer counties between the Cable Union Airport and Hayward’s Main Street. The Kortelopet is a 23K marathon that starts with the Birkie and ends at Telemark Resort; as does the Prince Haakon 12K.
The Birkie commemorates the rescue of the infant Norwegian Prince Haakon in 1206 by Torstien and Skevold, two warriors, known as Birkebeiners, because of the birch leggings they wore. Two skiers are chosen each year to commemorate the trek, along with Inge, Haakon’s mother who skis the race, and carries an actual baby for the last three blocks of the race, on wooden skis and wearing traditional 13th century clothing.
The elite skiers took to the course at 8 a.m. on Feb. 25 under grey clouds and light snow to finish in Hayward in brilliant sunshine and a cobalt blue sky. The international field consisted of participants from Canada, Finland, Norway, Switzerland and Russia. Norway’s’ most decorated Olympic skier Vegand Ulvang, who had recently completed an 800 mile ski trip to the South Pole at age 48, finished second in the 54K Birkebeiner Classical; missing first place by 1.9 seconds.
The American skiers again dominated the podiums in all races. Tad Elliot, Durango, Colo., won the men’s 50K Skate in 2:04:48.5. Caribou, Maine, resident David Chamberlain sprinted to the finish of the 54K Classical, in 2:51:15.2.
The real fireworks occurred at the finish line of the women’s 50K Skate with good friends and Olympic teammates Holly Brooks and Caitlin Gregg lunging across the line for a photo finish for the second consecutive year. This time Brooks was the winner by .4 seconds with a winning time of 2:18:53.2
Hayward resident Carolyn Ocariz was the women’s victor in the 54K Classical in 3:03:10.9.
The men’s Kortelopet 23K Skate was won by Ryan Davis, Duluth, Minn., in a time of 1:02:02.8 beating St. Paul resident Like Brown by 1/10 of a second. Alayna Sonnesyn, Plymouth, Minn. is the women’s Skate champion finishing in 1:06:33.
Nora Gilbertson, Lake Elmo is the Kortelopet Classical champion with a winning time of 1:20:14. The men’s Classical winner is Geoff Ash, Duluth, in 1:09:31.
The American Birkebeiner Foundation has expanded racing commencing on Thursday with the Barnebirkie (children’s race); Barkie Birkie (skijoring with dogs); Sit-Ski event (adaptive skiers); Giant Ski Race (six skiers working as a team); Junior Birkie; and the Prince Haakon 12k.
Local participants included:
Birkebeiner Skate 50K
Ronald Raymond, 2:50:30.4; Michael Phernetton, 2:56:55.7; John Koski, 3:18:19.2; Robert Moser, 3:21:01.9; James Schreiber, 3:28:39.9; Paul Jaeger, 3:30:54.1; David Mataya, 3:38:13.2; Robert Kondrasuk, 3:51:41.8; Warren Schneider, 3:57:14.0; Bob Branson, 4:00:51.3; Helen Leemkuil, 4:07:19.1; Allen Omernik, 4:08:34.9; Einar Sandom, 4:21:34.2; Scott Everson, 4:42:37.1; Andrea Kondrasuk, 5:01:23.7; William Gorham, 5:14:26.7; Mark Gherty, 5:40:19.1; Jeff Zais,5:50:58.0.
Birkebeiner Classical 54K
Jon Hauser, 4:40:58.6; Dirk Leemkuil, 5:31:57.0; Joseph Lowery, 6:58:33.2; Luke MacMenamin, 7:54:23.0; Daniel O’Malley, 7:54:36.8.
Kortelopet Skate 23K
Raymond Lee, 1:23:45.1; John Tjornehoj, 1:25:47.4; Scott Larson, 1:38:13.6; Michael Bernsteen, 1:42:18.9; Jamie A Olson, 1:49:28.0; Nathan Brine, 1:53:57.3; Mark Olson, 2:02:54.3; Lindsey Knutson, 2:19:44.7; Les Webster, 2:27:47.2; Gregory Lowe, 2:36:42.9; Rebecca Lowery, 4:05:33.2.
Kortelopet Classical 23K
James Cumming, 2:02:04.6; Gillian Yoerg, 2:40:36.7; Thomas Zeuli, 2:27:13.6; Carey Ide, 3:07:57.6; Deirdre Worrell, 3:33:36.6; Wendy Haesemeyer,3:33:35.1.
Prince Haakon Skate 12K
Jennifer Evenson, 1:17:14.9.