Birkebeiner skiiers look forward to ideal conditionsby Bob Kelleher, Minnesota Public Radio
Hayward, Wis. — This winter's been ideal for the American Birkebeiner cross-country ski race, which takes place Saturday from Cable to Hayward, Wisconsin.
Trail conditions are reported excellent, according to race director Ned Zuelsdorff.
"It's been a great year for us up here. The trail has been in excellent shape since mid-December, up through last week. And last week we started grooming it on a daily basis to get it ready for the event," Zuelsdorff says. "Skiers should expect to have excellent conditions both for skate skiers and classic skiers on race day."
Weather conditions are also predicted near ideal, with temperatures forecast to be in the 20s Saturday morning.
Zuelsdorff says a new trail will keep classic cross-country skiers separate from skate skiers for the first 10 miles of the course.
"What that's going to do is give both groups of skiers much more room and better conditions overall, and it should just even further improve the event for everybody," says Zuelsdorff. "We've really brought the classic portion of the race up in stature, and it's really a separate race that happens to be occurring during the same time as the skate race."
This is the 35th running of the cross-country race. Officials are predicting 7,000 racers, which would be the third largest turnout ever.
Among the racers will be John Kotar, Ernie St. Germaine and Dave Landgraff. The three men have the distinction of having participated in all 34 prior races.
The 2007 Birkebeiner men's champion, Zack Simons, will race again this year.