Frequently Asked Questions

Can I skate-ski?
**2017** a Skate Event is being added!
Only if registered in the NEW Skate Ski event.  All other events are "classic-style" diagonal stride only, where skating is NOT allowed. 

Are there starting waves?
**2017** Yes, NEW this year!

If you are participating in the 55 km with pack, 55 km lite, or the 31 km tour, you will need to select an appropriate wave in which to start.  There will be three start waves; 9:00 am, 9:15, and 9:30; based on skier speed instead of event selection.  Read this to choose your appropriate wave start.

What about these Timing Chips?

With chip timing system, please make sure to double-check that you have a timing chip in your registration package (for 55, 31, 29 and 13 km events) and that you test it when you pick it up! It MUST be worn on the ankle and MUST be returned at the finish line. There is a $60 charge to replace lost chips.

This year we are introducing GoChip technology for the Birkie. Skiers will get an ankle timing chip the same as any other year. However, this chip will record the skier’s time from when they each actually cross the start line – not just when the mass start pistol fires. No more worrying about having to wait for skiers ahead in the tracks to clear the start zone. It also won’t matter if a skier goes out and back across the start line a few times while warming up or checking wax; the GoChip will only record the final time across the start line as the individual’s start time.


How long do I have to finish?

There are cut-off times for each aid station and the finish line. The finish line closes at 5:15 pm or thereabouts, when it starts getting dark. We don't want people lost out on the course after dark! Closing times for each station are based on skiing an average of 9-minute kilometres over the 55 km distance.  Anyone arriving after closing time is taken off the course and transported to the finish stadium. 55 km skiers have 8 hours 15 minutes to ski the course. Cut off times are posted in our Program Guide.

What happens at the Opening Ceremony?

The Opening Ceremony of the Festival takes place at 11:45 Friday, the day before the Birkie ski events.  The legend that the Birkie recreates each year is described and the Birkie Baby (representing the infant prince that is rescued) is introduced.  We recognize our fabulous sponsors and then the Festival is officially opened by supporting dignitaries.

What is the Nordic Fair?
The Nordic Fair takes place from noon - 8 p.m. Friday, the day before the Birkie ski events.  Pick up your registration package, visit our sponsors' and partners' booths, pick up a Birkie souvenir or two, get the latest waxing advice, watch waxing demos, and enjoy a sample of beer as you catch up with ski friends.  You must pick up your registration package at the Nordic Fair.

What is the Vikings' Feast?
An evening of great food, entertainment, awards and draw prizes! Click here for full details. Everyone is welcome!

What awards are available?
Please see our Results and Awards page for all details, including several unique awards.

Can I change the event I'm skiing?

Yes.  Please see our registration page for details.  Note: This must be done in advance of the Nordic Fair to guarantee a bib number in the appropriate ski event. You may NOT change out on the course or you will be disqualified!

Can I withdrawal from the event? 
Yes, but there are NO REFUNDS. Please email the office and specify your full name and the event you are withdrawing from.

Can my friend or family member pick up my registration package for me?

Yes. They just need to let the volunteers know your full name, age and event that you are registered in. Please ask them to be sure to check the timing chip (if you are in a timed event) before leaving the Nordic Fair.

Can I pick up my registration package at the event site?
No. If you are unable to make it to the Nordic Fair, please ask a friend or family member to pick up your package for you.  Exceptions may be made for skiers from out of town but there are few volunteers at the start so please arrive early and be prepared to wait in line. 

What about spectators?
Spectators are welcome!  There is no parking directly at Waskehegan Staging Area, where the finish lines and stadium are located, so spectators must park at the Bethel Transit Station in Sherwood Park and take the Birkie Shuttle to the Stadium area. Spectators may also get something to eat in the Festival Tent at the Finish Line by donation.

How is the Birkie "Green"?

  • We encourage car pooling - please ride with friends and family to the start
  • Virtually all of our waste is now compostable or recyclable; the Birkie sources eco materials for their cups, bowls and cutlery
  • Birkie provides colour-coded bins for recycling, composting or waste 

How can I recognize the amazing volunteers?
Be sure to say thank you to each volunteer you see!  It takes approximately 550 volunteers to plan, organize and run the Birkie each year.  Some volunteers work year-round on a committee, while others volunteer several hours on the weekend of the ski events. There are many different areas requiring a variety of skills and interest including marketing, logistics, sponsorship, medical, transportation, food, hosting, timers, registration, trail crew, set-up and take-down crews, etc.