THE CANADIAN BIRKIE BLOG
THE ALL-NEW BIRKIE SKATE-SKI EVENT
Well…. it’s our newest addition - a 29 km Skate-ski event …. and we’re very very excited about it!
The Canadian Birkebeiner events – 2, 4, 13, 31, 55 Lite and 55 km with Pack have traditionally been Classical skiing only but this year we have decided to test unknown snows, and hopefully entice some new participants, by offering a Skate ski event. You need only visit your local ski areas to appreciate that `skating’ is very popular, with the up and coming generation, due to the sport's many physical and social benefits.
Our new event starts at the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village – an hour after the 31 and 55 Classical events - and finishes at the Waskahegan Stadium area along with those events. It follows a largely separate route more or less along the boundary between the Blackfoot area (our home) and Elk Island National Park. The 29 km length will give you a good workout….1.5 to 4.5 hours for most skiers.
The terrain consists of a gently rolling trail, which spans over an unbroken forest, with the occasional raised view over a pond or lake…. a purposefully picturesque route to distract you from potentially wobbly legs (….it happens). There will be 3 interim Feed Stations with the usual assortment of edibles, drink and medical personnel.
As with all the Birkebeiner events there is a place for the speedsters and the recreational skier. We’re hoping it proves to your liking and becomes a yearly event.
We would love to hear your feedback and share your photos during the festival. Make the rest of the community part your Birkie day by using our hashtag #Birkespirit on social media: Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.
THE VAN DER MEER BIRKIE FAMILY TRADITION
We all look forward to our yearly close friends and family get-togethers. This is a heartwarming tradition of how the Van Der Meer family celebrate their winter holiday.
" The Birkebeiner Ski Festival is a long-standing tradition in my family. My two sisters and I have been cross country skiing since we were kids with our parents. My mom’s Norwegian heritage combined with our love of winter and skiing has been a formidable combination, and makes the Birkebeiner a perfect fit.
Our much sought after prize used to be the award for the most kilometers skied by a family. We invited our aunts, uncles and cousins from Ontario, B.C. and Alaska to join us and ski for glory. Although this trophy is no longer awarded, it hasn’t stopped our family’s annual tradition of gathering in Edmonton in February for our favourite festival. My two sisters now live far away- Sierra in Whitehorse, Yukon, and Heidi in Carbondale, Colorado, so this is an extra special time for us. Every year, we share stories of our Birkebeiner triumphs and tribulations- whether the race is on a perfect blue sky, blue wax day, or in challenging frigid or fresh snow conditions, we know there will always be good stories to tell at the end! "
SAFETY AT THE CANADIAN BIRKEBEINER
We take great effort to manage the safety practices within the remote area of the Blackfoot Recreation Area (where the Loppet is held).
Over the years, we have developed various safety practices to keep our skiers safe:
Use of ambulance services;
Volunteer medical students from the U of A on hand for emergencies;
Long and short ski snow patrol and snowmobiles towing rescue toboggans; and
Providing safe change rooms and the festival tent as refuge from the elements.
Last year we had a blinding glimpse of the obvious: most of us carry cell phones. We will be initiating a 911 protocol for the first time at this year’s Canadian Birkebeiner. Our protocol will come with your Birkebeiner bib package so that you can have it on the trail.
It is our belief that it is always better to prevent injuries than to treat them. The cold weather is a common source of injury in the Loppet. We will monitor the temperature conditions and advise Birkie skiers beforehand to reduce risk of frostbite.
We all have a part to play for a safe Loppet. Each of us decides whether or not to take part based on our own condition as well as the conditions on the trail.
We would love to hear your recommendations or feedback on how we can improve the safety of our ski festival. You may contact us through our Birkie Office email or our many social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.