Brady Slater

Forum News Service

The American Birkebeiner cross-country ski race has been canceled, race officials said in a news release Friday.

“After days of unseasonable weather, rain and a predicted snowstorm front missing the Hayward and Cable areas, the American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation regretfully announces the cancellation of the 2017 American Birkebeiner, Kortelopet and Prince Haakon cross-country ski races,” said the news release.

Organizers will instead host an event they’re calling BirkieStock 2017, a celebration of the American Birkebeiner Trailhead at the start area in Cable.

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Organizers are creating an estimated 5-kilometer loop for skiers to enjoy, but there will be no official ski event.

Beginning at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, buses will begin transporting riders to the American Birkebeiner Trailhead from the Como Parking Lot on U.S. Highway 63 coming into Cable. Live music begins at 11:45 a.m., and plays to 5 p.m., said the news release. There will be a soup tent, beer garden and more. Also, race officials moved the demos scheduled for Sunday to Saturday so participants can peruse the latest ski gear and fat bikes.  

Birkie officials reviewed the trail again Friday morning before coming to the decision. The course was in racing shape little more than a week ago. But unseasonably warm weather and more than an inch of rain Monday made for a course that deteriorated rapidly.

A winter storm watch for Northwestern Wisconsin, set by the National Weather Service in Duluth, had infused racers and organizers with hope but the storm never materialized as it continued on a path south of the trail.

“The safety of our skiers is first and foremost in our minds,” said spokeswoman Nancy Knutson earlier this week. “Conditions need to be safe for the first skier, as well as the 10,000th skier.”

This marks the second cancellation of the race in its 44-year history.