Trail groomers prepare for Saturday's American Birkebeiner

By KBJR News 1

February 20, 2014 Updated Feb 20, 2014 at 12:05 AM CDT

Cable, WI (NNCNOW.com) -- The American Birkebeiner trail has seen plenty of snow for the nearly 11 thousand lacing up their skis for the race this weekend, but a big snowstorm is on the way.

In its 41st year, the American Birkebeiner is drawing people from all over the world to compete in the world's largest and longest cross-country ski race.

This year the race is getting an extra boost because of all the snow.

"The draw of the race has been significant because we've got good conditions." said Executive Director, Ben Popp.

The same can't be said for many other world class ski races.

"I was in Italy recently for the World Loppet race there and many people, again the conditions weren't ideal so they said 'oh, well, maybe we can come to America and race in the birkebeiner. So, we're seeing a big influx of people because of the conditions," said Popp.

The trails have about a foot of base snow right now and with a big winter storm on the way much more packing and even some removal will be needed.

"It can be disappointing the day of the race if conditions are very difficult, harsh, lots of snow, softer conditions... but what it does make for is great stories and that is what the Birke is all about," said Head Trail Groomer, Chris Campbell.

Groomers are working tirelessly around the clock to prepare for race day, despite the impending snow, but some skiers are saying that part of the sport is dealing with mother nature.

Just ask Steven Mink. He has come up from Mankato to ski his 29th Birkebeiner.

"Can't control the weather, so there ain't no sense in worrying about it. We've skied 28 Birkies in snow and cold and warm and everything. You have to wax your skis according to what the weather is going to be and then take off. Have fun." said Mink.

For those racing the Birkie; be prepared for more time on the trail in the event that groomers cannot get to all the snow.

Bryce Henry
bhenry@kbjr.com

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