Birkie Weekend Questions and Answers


1. Can I downgrade my registration or do I have to compete in the event I signed up for?

You can downgrade at the Nordic Fair when you pick up your Registration Package. There are no refunds and there is no charge.

2. Can I upgrade my registration?

Upgrades can be accommodated up until registration is closed (e.g. the Wednesday before the Birkie). Registrants must pay the price differential between the current registration costs as well as a $25 change fee. Upgrade your registration here.

3. Does the Birkie accommodate para Nordic skiers?

The Canadian Birkie welcomes all para Nordic skiers to ski with their ski partners (who ski without fee) and their specialized equipment. Please contact the office for further information.

4. What events can children participate in?

Children younger than 8 years old should register for the Barnebirkie Family Ski. Children 8+ are welcome to ski the Birkie per age restrictions for each event.

5. Is there a Timed Event for Children?

No, timed events are for adults and youth, or children accompanied by an adult. The Barnebirkie Family Ski on Sunday is an event specifically for children.

6. What are the Age Restrictions for the Various Events?

Each event has different age restrictions. See our Age Limits page for more details.

7. What is the best wave to select for the 31 and 55 km events?

You will need to select a wave to start. See the 31 and 55 km Wave Starts Description document.

8. When Does Registration Close?

Midnight, MST on Wednesday February 7, 2024.

9. When will I receive my registration package, bib, and timing chip?

You can pick up your registration package, bib, swag, and kit at from the Nordic Fair on Friday February 9, 2024 from 12-8 p.m. at the Broadmoor Golf Course Clubhouse in Sherwood Park.

10. What if I cannot pick up my registration package myself?

A trusted third party can pick up your package. Coaches can pick up the packages for their team.

11. I picked up my registration package but can’t ski, now what?

You will be recorded as a DNS (Did Not Start). The only thing you must do is return your timing chip. This must be done within 3 days of the Birkie. There are 3 options: 1) return it to the Registration Desk on Saturday morning before the Birkie starts, 2) return it to the Finish Line before the end of the Birkie, or 3) contact us and arrange to drop it off within 3 days of the Birkie. Missing timing chips are charged a $100 fee.

12. What happens if I lose my timing chip?

Timing Chips are in constant use by organizations across Canada. A timing chip is considered lost if not returned to the Finished Line on Saturday and is subject to a $100 fee.

13. What Happens if the Birkie is Cancelled?

Registration is non-refundable. You can minimize your risk by purchasing Secure Your Spot Insurance. For $20, if the event is cancelled, you can register for the 2025 event for no charge for the same race event. The Birkie will contact you with information on how to do this.

Birkie Prep

1. If I am flying in, what should I know?

Consider staying at our partner hotel, Four Points by Sheraton in Sherwood Park. See Hotels for more information on accommodation and transportation as someone flying in.

2. Can you camp on site or nearby?

Camping is not permitted at the Ukrainian Cultural Village or Cooking Lake-Blackfoot Provincial Recreation Area. The closest and most likely camping is Elk Island National Park which requires the purchase of a National Park Pass. Alternatively, contact Travel Alberta.

3. Can I park overnight at the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village?

No. Prior to and after the Birkie, the UCHV site is protected by a tight security system and public access is not possible.  You will not be able to access your vehicle after the Birkie should you leave it there overnight.

4. Can I ski the course beforehand?

The long courses involve crossing into many different areas including the Ukrainian Heritage Cultural Village and Elk Island National Park before entering into the Cooking Lake-Blackfoot Recreation Area. The former two areas only allow access on race day.

Skiers wanting to train or check out the snow conditions for both long and short course events prior to the race can do so from either of the following Staging Areas within the Cooking Lake-Blackfoot Recreation Area: Blackfoot Lake, Central, Islet Lake, or Wakahegan.

Please note that during the week of the race work will be occurring on the course. Be aware of volunteers, crews and equipment out on the course. Parking at Waskahegan will also be at a premium as this is the site for the finish area and Festival tent.

Skiers are recommended to try Strathcona Wilderness Centre in the days prior to the race for uninterrupted skiing. Other skiing opportunities exist with Edmonton and conditions and grooming information can be found using the Edmonton and Northern Region Trail Report, or Nordic Pulse.

5. Is there a paper copy of the program guide?

The program guide is available online only. See here.

6. What type of course is the Birkie?

All events on Birkie Saturday are point-to-point courses.

7. What are the elevation profiles of the various events?

Elevation profiles for all courses are posted in the Program Guide. Generally the description for all events is as follows; an enjoyable tour through gently rolling woodland. Skiers can expect to do a lot of double polling, and if they have selected good wax, or have their skin setting correct, be able to negotiate most of the uphills remaining in the tracks. A few steep sections requiring herringbone technique exist, but these are not long or particularly steep. Skiers wanting more detailed elevation information should consult the Program Guide from previous years. See here.

Birkie Saturday

1. Am I safe skiing the Birkie?

You should always consult a physician before beginning a strenuous program of exercise. Alberta winters can be unpredictable so be aware of this for the drive out/back and when on the trail. If you have a concern or an emergency, aid stations, first aiders, and medics are there to help. The Birkie has a comprehensive emergency response plan in case the unthinkable happens.

2. I am skiing the 55 km or 31 km race. How early should I arrive to the Long Start at the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village?

Volunteers that direct parking strive to do so in a safe and efficient manner. Bottlenecks do occur just prior to race start. Please ensure you that you arrive to have time to park, walk to the start line and prepare for the start of your wave. At least 1 hour before your wave designation.

3. How do I get to the long start and back?

Parking for the Long Start is available at the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village. Shuttles will be at the finish line at the Waskahegan Staging Area to take you back to your vehicle.

4. What happens if I arrive late for the 55 km or 31 km events?

You must arrive before the sweeps depart. If you arrive after the sweeps depart, you will be marked as Did Not Start. Please turn in your timing chip to a Birkie official.

5. Can I change into my ski clothes for the Long Start at the Ukranian Cultural Heritage Village?

No, change facilities are not available. Wear your ski apparel to the Long Start.

6. How do I get to the short start and back?

There is no parking at the Short Start at the Waskahegan Staging Area. Skiers and spectators must park at Bethel Transit Terminal. Free shuttle buses run continuously between Bethel Transit Terminal and Waskahegan from 8:00 am until 5:45 pm. Buses leave when they are full (about every 10-15 minutes) and the ride takes approximately 30 minutes.

7. Is there accessible parking for individuals with disabilities close to the long and short start lines?

Yes, contact the Birkie office in advance.

8. Can a non-skiing parent or guardian accompany their child on the bus shuttle and on site?

Yes, parents/guardians can and should accompany your child on a bus shuttle and on site.

9. How does the Clothing Tent work?

Long Start participants can drop their bags off with Clothing Tent volunteers at the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village prior to starting their race. Volunteers will then transport these bags from the Long Start to the Clothing Tent at the Finish Line at the Waskahegan Staging area. Short start participants can drop their bags off at the clothing tent at the Waskahegan Staging Area prior to starting their race.

10. Can I skate-ski or pull a sled/ pulk?

All events are classic technique only; skate-skiing is NOT allowed. Sleds and pulks are ONLY allowed in the 7 km Birkie Fun Ski event.

11. What if someone is found to be skate skiing the Birkie?

The Birkie is classic skiing only. Skate skiing is not permitted for safety reasons.

Course Patrollers are responsible for monitoring and reporting infractions to the Command Centre. Skiers reported to be skate skiing will be disqualified for time and skiers compromising other skiers will be extracted at the nearest Food Station.

Disputes are adjudicated by the command Centre at the Finish Line.

12. Do I have to stop at the rest stations?

No, you are welcome to ski through. However, we encourage you though to fill up fluid bottles and enjoy the snacks. If you are in physical or medical distress you MUST Stop.

13. Will I get fed during and after my race?

Yes! The Festival Tent at the Finish Line is filled with delicious Birkie sausages on a bun, hot broth and other goodies. The tent is available to skiers and volunteers. En route there are aid stations to keep you fuelled. Some vegetarian and vegan options are on tap as well.

14. 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 when safety and light conditions demand it. Anyone arriving after closing time for an aide station is taken off the course. Current cut off times are included on your events webpage.

15. When does the last bus leave the finish line at the Waskahegan Staging Area?

The last bus leaves the Finish Line after the last skier arrives.  Should the unthinkable happen, you won’t be left in the cold as there will be someone who can transport you back to your vehicle.

16. How is the Birkie timed?

We use Zone4 timing chips. Your departure is recorded as well as your finish. There are check in points along the way to ensure you are on course. Your results are available online and timing is used to determine Age and Gender awards. Don’t forget to return your timing chip though! It is a $100 souvenir if you fail to return it. Volunteers at the Finish Line will help you remove your timing chip.

17. Are spectators allowed at the finish line?

Yes. If you are travelling to the finish line at the Waskahegan Staging Area as a spectator, please take the shuttle from Bethel Transit Terminal.


1. Is there a Birkie Merchandise store this year?

Yes, our Online Store is open and closes in early January, 2024. Birkie merchandise purchased will be available for pick up at the Nordic Fair. See our Merchandise page for more details.

2. Can I buy a ticket to the Vikings’ Feast Ticket without registering for a ski event?

Yes! See our Vikings’ Feast page for the link to purchase your tickets.

3. How do I get to and from the Viking Feast?

You will need to take your own vehicle, carpool, or take a taxi.