Birkebeiner crew upbeat on course conditionsThe Hayward area has received enough snow to keep the Birkebeiner trail open, despite unusually warm winter weather, and skiers from the Twin Cities and Eau Claire, where snow is scarce, have been traveling north to use the trail, said Susan Kendrick, media coordinator for the American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation.
By: By Joe Knight, The Leader-Telegram, Eau Claire, Wis., Superior Telegram
The Hayward area has received enough snow to keep the Birkebeiner trail open, despite unusually warm winter weather, and skiers from the Twin Cities and Eau Claire, where snow is scarce, have been traveling north to use the trail, said Susan Kendrick, media coordinator for the American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation.
With record-setting warm weather earlier this week, Kendrick said they did get some media calls wondering how it would affect the marathon ski race from Cable to Hayward. But the 39th annual American Birkebeiner isn't until Feb. 25, and a lot can happen between now and then, she said.
They have learned that establishing a hard base of packed snow will preserve snow cover on the trail through some warm periods.
"We have a grooming crew that, every time we get snow, they make the most of it," she said.
By packing the snow as soon as it falls, they have been able to preserve a thin base that as of Wednesday was about three inches, she said, adding that the northern end of the trail has slightly more snow.
"Right now we're all very positive. The attitude here is that we still have plenty of time," she said.
Interest in the race has been high. They capped the race on Nov. 21 -- the earliest date ever -- after receiving 9,400 registrations for the Birkebeiner and shorter Korteloppet races. They were trying not to exceed 9,000, she said.
A classic-style race scheduled to be held on the trail this weekend was on the bubble until additional snow came Wednesday night and Thursday. That provided enough snow to set tracks for classic skiing.
Trail conditions are posted regularly on the Birkebeiner web site, she said.
Ted Theyerl, coach of the Chippewa Valley Nordic Ski Team, comprised of high school and middle school students, said the Twin Cities area has some short trails with man-made snow, and the Blue Hills and Hayward areas have had snow. They have already had several competitions.
But so far for after-school practices, the team has had to resort to running or "hill bounding" on trails with ski poles and skiing on Half Moon Lake.
Last week team leaders had to cancel a race they had planned to host at the Tower Ridge Ski Area this weekend because of the lack of snow.
With the recent snowfall of about 4 inches, their hope for some local snow to train on may have been answered.
Knight can be reached at 715-830-5835, 800-236-7077 or email@example.com.
(c)2012 the Leader-Telegram (Eau Claire, Wis.)
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