The American Birkebeiner — the largest cross country ski race in North America with 10,000 participants split between its 32- or 34-mile Birkebeiner, 15-mile Kortelopet and 8-mile Prince Haakon events – was held for the 42nd time in the Hayward area on Saturday in challenging conditions of temps in the high single digits through low teens and new fluffy, sharp snow crystals falling before and during the event.
The Spirit of 35 skiers start off the race in Cable, followed by elite skiers in classic style. Then the skate elite blast off the line, completing the extremely hilly 32-mile course in just over two hours. Waves of several hundreds of skiers are sent off in five-minute intervals. Skiers need to earn their way into higher waves by a previous finish and can hang onto a result for a few years before dropping waves if their performance suffers.
A highlight of the race for 2015 was a new bridge over Hwy. 63, to stop the race blocking traffic as it finishes on Hayward’s Main St.
Several area residents competed in the events and their accomplishments follow:
Birkebeiner skate (51K)– Andrew Jahns, 3:11:50.8; Eric Koch, 3:36:50.8; Donald Evans, 4:19.09.0; Sherry Koch, 4:49.01.7; Kelly O’Day, 5:49.09. Birkie classic (55K)– Rhonda Bacher, 6:37:37.6; Dale Bacher, DNF. Kortelopet skate (24K)– Nathan Koch, 1:19:15.0; Stephen Koch, 1:32:26.2. Prince Haakon Classic (12K)– Mason Cleveland 1:29:45.1.
Birkie skate– Jeff Schnelle, 4:02:37.3. Kortie skate–Martha Schouweiler, 2:14:33.7.
Birkie skate– Jeff Craig, 2:58:25.0; Maria Harrington, 4:22:31.4; Levi Harrington, 5:56.15.4. Birkie classic–Peter Wurl, 5:11.29.9; Theresa Theiler, 6:02:30.4.
Kortie classic–James Henning, 3:38:55.3.
Rib Lake competitors
Kortie skate– Norm Hoyt, 1:42:05.0. Kortie classic–Scott Everson, 2:51.56.7.
Birkie skate– William Clark, 4:05:55.6; Scott Stalheim, 4:19:45.6; Gregory Knight, 4:54:22.0; John Bauer, DNF. Birkie classic– Emma Carter, 5:45:16.1. Mark Temme, DNF.
Birkie classic– Paul Gabriel, 3:58.47.0; Douglas Riske, 4:35:41.3. Prince Haakon Skate– Patty Riske, 2:18:44.4.
Birkie skate– Ross Dreger, 2:31:35.8. Kortie skate– Olivia Dreger, 1:35.52.8. Kortie classic–Kelly Dreger, 2:06:36.3.