50th Birkie modified due to weather but will go on

Despite the warm temperatures and lack of snow, the largest cross-country ski marathon in North America will go on, albeit with some changes this year.

The American Birkebeiner is celebrating its 50th year in 2024 but made some modifications thanks to the unusual winter weather.

An open track has been added this year and a lapped course will also be used. Event organizers say the lack of snow on the traditional Cable to Hayward, Wis., course forced the use of the lapped course, although officials say they believe it will improve the experience for spectators.

Additionally, the event shortened the distances of the Birkie, Kortelopet and Prince Haakon citizen races. The Birkie will move from a 50K to a 30K, the Kortelopet will be a 20K instead of 29K, and the Prince Haakon will be a 10K rather than its typical 15K. However, the men’s and women’s elite skate Birkie will stay a 50K event.

One of the highlights of this year’s event is the participation of some World Cup athletes, including Minnesota native and Olympian Jessie Diggins.

“We’re thrilled to welcome Jessie Diggins and other World Cup athletes to Birkie Week 2024,” said Ben Popp, executive director of the American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation. “Their participation adds an extra layer of excitement to an already exhilarating event. The American Birkebeiner is about more than just skiing; it’s about coming together as a community to celebrate our shared passion for winter sports.”

Birkie week starts on Feb. 21 and runs through Feb. 25. Click here for more details.