Darrin and Grady Meendering and James Bigelow completed their first Nordic distance event by doing the Prince Haakon 15K.

American Birkebeiner fever hits Marshall Avenue


What started as a suggestion during a neighborhood gathering in June culminated in a weekend full of enjoyment in Wisconsin’s north woods at the American Birkebeiner ski festival. Neighbors, Darrin and Grady Meendering, James Bigelow and Keith Olson, spent a long weekend at Hayward competing in North America’s largest Nordic ski event. 

The American Birkebeiner, called “the Birkie” draws elite cross country skiers from all over the world. It also embraces those of us who have less competitive ambitions but want to experience skiing on the challenging, but beautiful, American Birkebeiner trail in Bayfield and Sawyer counties of northern Wisconsin. The Birkebeiner trail itself is a natural gem that needs to be experienced to understand. It meanders from Cable to Hayward through the mature forest. The trails are about 40 feet wide and are expertly groomed for both skate and classic skiers. To say the trail has hills is an understatement. It is ruthless for us that come from the prairie. Except for Lake Hayward, the entire length has you either climbing up or gliding down the trail. In 2016, my Fitbit tracker had me climbing the equivalent of 440 flights (about 9 feet per flight) of stairs over the 34.1 mile course. 

As the neighborhood group arrived in Hayward for the weekend, we could feel the excitement build. We know we were amongst thousands who had come there to test  our abilities. All the training was done. All the preparations had been made. The skis were waxed. We were ready to conquer the trail. It is called “Birkie Fever”. 

See complete story in the week's issue of the Springfield Advance-Press.

Springfield Advance-Press

13 S. Marshall Avenue PO Box 78 Springfield, MN 56087