Birkebeiner Trails Improving with More Snow

By KBJR News 1

February 7, 2013 Updated Feb 8, 2013 at 10:34 AM CDT

Hayward, WI (NNCNOW.com)-- It's a complicated relationship between the weather and a ski classic.

The American Birkebeiner cross county ski race from Cable to Hayward brings thousands of people from all over the world to Northwest Wisconsin.

But poor conditions this year, with little snow, have already forced some events to be cancelled on the Birke's trails, just weeks before the main event.

"It was a sheet of ice. It was horrible looking."

For those training in the weeks leading up to the American Birkebeiner, anxiety over icy conditions was prevalent.

"It was like, "Is the Birke going to happen this year?" said David Lombardo, a cross-country skier from Eau Claire, Wisconsin.

That is until now.

"They're fresh groomed. The track is setting up perfectly. It's perfect. A few weeks ago you would never have imaged it would be this good today," said a winded Lombardo after a few miles skiing in the Northwoods. "Today is beautiful, the conditions are awesome."

Snowfalls that have saved the Birke from a dry, snowless death.

"Just in the last ten days we've received several inches of snow fortunately and that has greatly improved the course conditions," said Ned Zuelsdorf with the American Birkebeiner. "Today we would be able to do a race with a main street finish."

Businesses lining Hayward's main street are breathing a sigh of relief.

"The Birke is just a big economic boost for local businesses," said Steve Butchart, owner of Outdoor Adventures. "It brings thousands of people to town and really exposes people to Hayward and maybe they'll come back in the summer in a different season as well."

And the economic impact aside skiers are just happy to stretch their legs in preparation for the Birke.

"Everybody looks forward to it. It's a family reunion, it's a lot of things rolled into one," said Lombardo.

On Saturday, February 9th the 31st consecutive Pre-Birkie will kick off.

The American Birkebeiner is scheduled to start February 23rd.