American Birkebeiner

This weekend, Adam and I made the pilgrimage to Hayward, Wisconsin, where we celebrated our love for skiing with finishes in the Classic Birkebeiner! On Friday, we headed to Telemark (Cable, WI) for bib pick-up and an easy ski with Danise and Karen Jarvey. I demoed some Rossi skis (the new Xiums are kick@ss! and the boots are uber comfy) and walked around the expo for a bit! Then, we drove to Nicole Lepinski’s cabin near Iron River, where we were well taken care of by her parents. Her mom was finishing up the spaghetti as we walked in the door, so we feasted (I with my gluten-free noodle variety) on some delicious spaghetti and meat sauce, salad, bruschetta, and cookies galore! It was great to stay with good friends, and have a reunion of sorts. My friend, Erik Hemstead, who was on a two-week R&R from Iraq (Marines) decided to roll up to do the Birkie, too. He and I did our undergrad during the same time, and he skied for Tech as well.

After dinner, some of the gang just relaxed with board games and lounging.

Andrea, Erik, and Chris playing Monopoly and Nicole watching…

Jason Cork did a fantastic job waxing skis.

Adam and I put on alternating layers of VR40/45 and a top-coat of Start MFWBlue. I used Kristina Owen’s old Fisher RCSs (the tails of which delaminated last week during an icy spell, and Adam epoxied back together for me). They started to split a little again, so I bought some superglue and fixed ’em up right. During the race, I had great glide and excellent kick up most all of the hills (a few were just too sugary and tracked out from skaters that it was almost impossible not to herringbone). The skis were AWESOME! fast, maneuverable, and just plain awesome.

The start of the Elite (Wave 1) classic race.

The race was crazy! So many people. Luckily, my wave was the second-to-last for classic, and I think most people in my wave had qualified for that wave, making it a fairly slow group. So, I got up and out ahead of almost everyone (except one) in the first half-kilometer. The guy ahead of me and I bussled through groups of wave-sixers before we hit 3 or 4K. It was a lot of weaving across tracks and getting around people. The Korteloppet and the Birkebeiner started together and skied for about 9kilometers on the same trail, so it was crowded. I skipped the first feed (only at ~5K) and bumped up and kept passing people. It took a lot of energy sometimes to pass people on the hills, because I had to get out of the tracks and pass on the left, where often the snow was powdery from the dusting the night before.

After the Korte split, I continued with the other wave-7-classic guy onward and upward through the droves of classic skiers. The feed stations were awesome, and Joe gave us some advice to ski through the station and get feed at the ends. That was a great tip! I started catching people from wave 5, and wave 4, but I fell away from the other wave-7 guy somewhere between 15-20K, and then got overtaken by some wave-8ers. I was just waiting for Adam to catch up, but I kept pushing and passing people. Around our 27K mark, the Classic and Skate Birkie trails merged, and I was skiing with skaters. It was nice to see that my friends Lisa Weideman and Owen Kingstead were gaining ground (they, skating, passed me around 25K to go) and it was also nice to see I was keeping up and passing skaters from lower waves (like wave 4 and 5). Typically, skating is always faster than classical skiing, and we also had an extra 4K of skiing on the classic course.

I did have to tap on a few master-blaster’s poles, for sake of my eyesight, and I may have made a few people trip because I was aggressive going up hills (they probably shouldn’t have let me ski over their tips?), but all in all it was a lot of fun. It was rewarding to pass people and hear them say “Way to go, Wave 7 girl!” I passed some Birkebeiners (think: Norsemen on skis) and some women in poodle skirts cheering me on up Bitchhill. There was a lot going on throughout the whole race, and a lot of spectators. The race finished after skiing across Lake Hayward in downtown Hayward, and when I saw the people standing along the side of the finish chute, I was ready to be done!!!

After the race, I watched Adam finish and he told me all he wanted was a cheeseburger and a beer… so we headed to the Mocassin Bar where the rest of the gang was, and Erik handed Adam two McDonald’s cheeseburgers and a glass of PBR. PERFECT! Cork and Joe got well hydrated and I got filled in on everyone else’s races. Then we went back to the Lepinski cabin and really rested.

Jason, probably a little TOO close to the wood-burning stove…

Then, we ate some snacks and headed to the Sawmill for an afterparty of sorts. This involved mingling with other skiers, including pros and old Tech alum, shot skis (see below), and trying to stay awake while standing.


Gu Roctane (delicious!), my bib, and first-time finisher’s medal.

Looking at the results today, I ended up finishing third in my age group, seventeenth overall, and in the 25% club, which means I should probably start farther up than wave 7 next year πŸ™‚ Adam also did well, finishing in the top 30%, not too shabby for only his second Nordic race ever! Both of us had negative splits (our second half was at a faster speed than our first) and we’re both pretty sore.

Good thing I don’t have too demanding of a training schedule this week… Just an I1 on Wednesday and an MP on Sunday. πŸ˜€

I feel a fever comin’ on …

This weekend is the largest ski event in North America… The American Birkebeiner. Two years ago, the race was canceled to all except elite racers, and the conditions were awful. There wasn’t much snow, it was warm (I think?) and just plain gross. But this year…


This year its going to be COLD. and there will be snow! Yesterday, it was cloudy and 32… but today’s forecast calls for 70% chance of snow and temps in the teens. Tomorrow… its supposed to be single digit temps and maybe even below zero, with chilly wind chills. and I’m excited?

Heck yes I’m excited! I am skiing the Birkie classical style, so I don’t want it to be TOO warm. I want my kick to work on those kickable hills, and I want to pass people and ski fast. I want to watch fast people ski and kick butt! My old teammie, Kristina Owen, is on her own turf now (she skis for CXC Elite, based in Hayward), and many others on the team are doing it, too. I hope to see Karl Walczak rock it, and my future Ironman buddy, Andrew Joda, take some names.

The warm temps recently will make the snow nice and smooth, so when its gets cold today and tomorrow, the snow will get icy and FAST. the extra snow should add some texture to the conditions, so hopefully it won’t be scary fast… but I only hope that because I will be skiing with 7000 other people.

Most people do the Birkie freestyle, or skate, which takes a different course than the classical course. The classic is slightly longer, too (54K instead of 50). I’ll be starting in the back (wave 7) because I’ve never done a ski marathon before and frankly, I don’t know how it will go. Adam is also doing it, and will be starting in wave 8. Hopefully he doesn’t pass me!!

So I’m ready to go watch the Greatest Show on Snow… the American Birkebeiner! and the Birkie FEVER has kicked in!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Mount Houghton Adventures

Yesterday, Travis, Adam, Jill, Chris, and myself went snowshoeing up Mount Houghton, one of the highest peaks in the Keweenaw. It’s nestled right next to Bohemia, the backcountry ski hill near Lac La Belle. Mt Houghton offers some killer views of Lake Superior, and the exposed cliffs give it an adventurous feel. And what’s more fun than hiking straight up the side of a 1000ft hill? Running down it and jumping off snow piles!

Group shot

View from the top…