HAWYARD -- Italian skier Fabio Santus broke the 50K Birkie Skate course record with a time of 1:56:58.6 in the 37th annual American Birkebeiner held Saturday. Rebecca Dussault the returning champion defended her title by winning the women’s skate division with a time of 2:18:18.1.
Santus of Milano, Italy, skied his first Birkie saying, “I am very, very happy. It was a great track with very good people.”
Tad Elliot, Durango, Colo., skied to a second-place finish in 1:57:06.7 followed by Christopher Cook, Rhinelander, with a third-place time of 1:58:41.
First time Birkie skiers Tazlina Mannix and Brooke Gosling battled for their positions with Mannix of Anchorage, Alaska, capturing the second place finish with a time of 2:18:49.2 and Gosling of Canmore, Alberta, Canada, taking third with a time of 2:18:57.
In its third year the Birkie Classic presented by Subaru showed course records for both the men’s and women’s races. The 54K Classic Champion is Juergen Uhl of South Burlington, Vt., with a time of 2:28:39.4. Audrey Weber of St. Louis Park, Minn., captured the women’s title in a time of 2:51:34.
The second place time in the men’s classic of 2:32:30.7 was skied by Jesse Smith of Traverse City, Mich. In third place was Shawn Miller, Duluth, finishing in 2:33:16.3.
Repeating her second-place finish from 2009, Hilary Patzer, St. Paul, finished in 2:53:07.4, while Kerrie Fabius, Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada skiing in her first Birkie finished in 2:53:31.3.
Ned Zuelsdorff, Executive Director of the American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation, said skiers from 19 foreign nations, including Andora, Estonia and Russia, and 47 U.S. states, including Hawaii, North Carolina and Alaska, had great conditions for the 37th anniversary event.
Honorary Starter, Wisconsin Governor James Doyle, welcomed the largest field of skiers ever in the American Birkebeiner’s 37-year history. He sent more than 8,055 skiers on their way beginning at 8 a.m.
Temps hovered just below 0 degrees at the start, then climbed as 21 waves of skiers left the starting gates.
For race day results, log on to www.birkie.com.