In February 2018, an estimated 13,000 cross-country skiers will gather in Cable and Hayward, Wisconsin to take part in Birkie week ski events. The Slumberland American Birkebeiner is North America’s largest cross-country ski race and the signature event of Birkie week festivities. In homage to the race’s roots, the American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation (ABSF) is seeking a trio of cross-country skiers to portray two Birkebeiner warriors and Inga in the 44th American Birkebeiner Ski Marathon slated for February 24, 2018.
With a nod to the past, the American Birkebeiner selects a trio to portray Birkebeiner warriors, Torstein & Skervald, and Inga, mother of Prince Haakon. The three characters played a pivotal role in Norwegian history when in 1206, amid civil war, the two Birkebeiner warriors, so called for their protective birch bark leggings, skied through the treacherous mountains and rugged forests of Norway smuggling Prince Haakon, the Norwegian King’s son, to safety. Norwegian history credits the Birkebeiners’ bravery with preserving the life of the boy who later became Norway’s King.
The three skiers reenact the historic flight on wooden skis and in full period costume along the entire 55K classic cross-country race course. While on the trail, the trio serves as Birkie Ambassadors, engaging other skiers and spectators along the way. The dramatic journey culminates when Inga, Torstein, and Skervald ski up and over the American Birkebeiner International Bridge and down Hayward’s snow-covered Main Street amidst cheers from spectators and skiers alike. It is a true celebration of the legacy and tradition of the race.
Located near Hayward and Cable, Wisconsin, the American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization, is known for its signature American Birkebeiner Ski Marathon held each February. Today, the Birkie has grown to encompass a year-round lifestyle that provides healthy, active events for thousands of outdoor fitness enthusiasts of all levels. From the iconic Birkie ski race, to the Birkie Trail Run & Trek, and the Fat Bike Birkie race – the world’s largest fat bike race, the ABSF and the Birkie Trail attract skiers, runners, bikers, trekkers, and hikers, from casual day-trippers to elite superstars. The Birkie embodies a healthy active lifestyle. The Birkie Trail is a fitness destination and mecca for outdoor sports enthusiasts.
“Portraying Skervald at the Birkie was a wonderful way to celebrate this spectacular race, this beautiful sport, and my Norwegian heritage. The warm response and connection with fellow skiers and spectators was far more than I expected. I highly recommend others submit their applications to become warriors and Inga – it’s an unforgettable, joyful experience,” said Steve Long, Duluth, MN (who played Skervald)
Said Jen Pearson, Duluth, MN, who portrayed Inga: “The energy and enthusiasm I received throughout the weekend was amazing. Standing at the top of the bridge, with the adorable “Baby Haakon” on my back, looking down Main Street with people cheering and toasts being raised, will forever stand hairs up on my arms. It was a magical moment. It was a Birkie like none-other, and truly a way to celebrate the heritage and joy of the Birkie experience.”
Skiers interested in this amazing experience are encouraged to register with the Birkie no later than November 30, 2017.
Inga & Birkebeiner Warriors Contest Details:
• This historic re-enactment requires skiing the Birkie Classic 55K on wooden skis, and wearing the historic costumes provided by the ABSF.
• The Warriors & Inga trio will serve as “ambassadors on the trail,” encouraging both skiers and volunteers along the course route.
• The warriors will carry a baby doll along the course until Main Street where they will pick up a real infant “Prince” before skiing the last two blocks with Inga to the finish line.
• Entrants need not provide a young child to portray the baby Prince Haakon, however, the ABSF is open to the trio providing their own Prince Haakon (infant).
• The group will also make appearances at other events during Birkie race week, February 22-25, 2018.
• All three skiers – two warriors and Inga – must sign up as a group rather than individual skiers.
• Entries must first demonstrate their skiing ability, then their passion, sense of tradition, and why skiing in these roles would be of importance to the entrant.
• Each contest winner will receive a free Slumberland American Birkebeiner or Kortelopet race entry for 2019.
• If you ski as a warrior or Inga you will receive credit for completing the race.
• The contest application deadline for the 2018 Warriors & Inga contest will close at 11:59 p.m., November 30, 2017.
• Details and registration available at: http://www.birkie.com/live/warriors-and-inga-contest
• Email [email protected] or call 715-634-5025.