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  Canadian Birkie Ski Festival

Canada’s Premier classic-style cross-country ski festival. Get outdoors, get active and embrace winter.

The Canadian Birkie Ski Festival offers a weekend packed with recreational and competitive cross-country ski events for the whole family. Whether you’re a seasoned skier or just starting out, the Birkie has a ski event for everyone.

In addition to the festival events, the Birkie also provides Birkie training programs to help you reach your goals. Get a head start in September with Dryland training, which focuses on building strength and endurance before the snow falls. Then, transition smoothly into the Canadian Birkie Winter training program, offered from late October until February, to refine your cross-country skiing skills for the festival.

Our Cross-Country Ski Distances

The Canadian Birkie Loppet takes place every second Saturday of February. What distance will you choose? Can you manage our flagship cross-country ski distance 55 km with pack Torskeklubben Birkebeiner? Or will you rather start with the 13 km Global Edmonton Mini Birkie? Which ever distance suits you best you can count on a day with many volunteers along the way from feed station to medical care.

Our Sunday is filled with ski and snow activities for kids and their family: Barnebirkie where Birkie Dreams begin

Please note all our events are classic skis; no skate ski and freestyle allowed.

55 km with pack Torskeklubben Birkebeiner

During this 55 km ski skiers recreate the legend of the original Birkebeiner skiers by carrying the equivalent of the infant crown prince, a 5.5 kg (12 lb) pack.

Start atFinish Line
Ukrainian Cultural Heritage VillageWaskahegan Staging Area, Cooking Lake-Blackfoot PRA

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55 km Madshus Birkie Lite

Looking for a personal challenge but want to travel 55 km lite, without the pack? Try the 55 km distance without the extra weight.

Start atFinish Line
Ukrainian Cultural Heritage VillageWaskahegan Staging Area, Cooking Lake-Blackfoot PRA

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31 km Mud Sweat and Gears Birkie Tour

Geared toward those wanting to ski an intermediate distance of 31 km and test their skill and stamina.

Start atFinish Line
Ukrainian Cultural Heritage VillageWaskahegan Staging Area, Cooking Lake-Blackfoot PRA

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13 KM Global Edmonton Mini Birkie

A fun course for those who want a taste of the Birkie!  Skiers in this event vary in age and ability, but they all seek the thrill of crossing the finish line.   

Start and Finish at
Waskahegan Staging Area, Cooking Lake-Blackfoot PRA

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7 km Birkie Fun Ski

This recreational untimed ski event is designed for beginner to intermediate youth and adult skiers.

Start and Finish at
Waskahegan Staging Area, Cooking Lake-Blackfoot PRA

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Birkie Sunday | Barnebirkie Family Ski

Calling all Kids and Parents to join us for a 500 m, 2 km or 4 km ski. The Canadian Birkebeiner Society is excited to partner with Silver Skate Festival to host the Barnebirkie Family Ski. These winter fun activities are where Birkie dreams begin and are for both children and their grown-ups! Finally did you know: the word “Barne” translates to “child” in Norwegian!

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Season Event | Full Moon Birkie

Embark on an evening cross-country ski adventure at Waskehegan Staging Area in Cooking Lake-Blackfoot Provincial Recreation Area. Glide under the starry sky and propel yourself forward while enjoying a unique landscape of shadows created by the full moon. Enjoy stories, hot chocolate and snacks in the warmed huts at the start or midway.

Start and Finish at
Waskahegan Staging Area, Cooking Lake-Blackfoot PRA

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Training

The Birkie offers several xc ski training opportunities to get you ready for the Birkie.

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Nordic Fair

Meet our sponsors for some final tips and pick up your race pack.

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Viking Feast

Celebrate your Birkie Results with fellow skiers after event Saturday Evening.

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Results 

Curious about (past) results, rankings and medals?

Read More

Haakon Haakonsson Mug, given to 199 recipients and counting!

Awards

Find out more about our yearly awards and awardees.

Read More

 

 Birkie Weekend Questions and Answers

Registration

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.

14. What are rules & etiquettes during the Canadian Birkie?

The Canadian Birkie Ski Festival is sanctioned by Nordiq Canada; as such there are regulations that we must follow.

  • We are unable to hold the event if the air temperature is colder than -25 C, and/or other weather considerations.

Please note that because we are sanctioned as a Loppet, not a Tier 1 or 2 Race, Nordiq Canada’s Fluorocarbon Wax Policy does not apply to our event.

Here are a few Birkie rules to remember for your ski event.

  1. Use ONLY Classical Technique. Skate skiing is NOT allowed during in-person ski events. Gliding on herringbone, sideways pushing, and skating except on corners are not allowed. You are allowed up to five pushes maximum per corner.
  2. Move when you hear Track. Please be courteous; if you hear another skier call Track, please get out of the way safely and quickly.
  3. Don’t stop in tracks at Food Stations. Please don’t stop in the tracks at the food stations. We ask that you step out of the tracks and stand well to the side so skiers can pass through.
  4. Do not ski with headphones.
  5. Stay on your course. Changing events during the race is not allowed. Anyone not passing all checkpoints on their registered course will be a DNF or DSQ.
  6. Prepare for cold temperatures. Dress appropriately in layers and bring clothing and wax for changing weather. Peel layers as necessary. Have adequate hand and head protection; keep well hydrated and well-fueled. Starts may be delayed and/or courses modified for safety. Check Birkie Social Media for updates on conditions.
  7. Keep hydrated. Drink lots of water or sports drink at food stations.
  8. Keep bib visible. Wear your bib only on your front and over top of your jacket for visibility.

Provincial Park Regulations

Courses and Start/Finish Lines are staged in a Provincial Recreation Area, as such all provincial park rules and regulations must be followed.

  • No alcohol is allowed in the park.
  • No dogs are allowed on the ski trails and must be leashed in the parking lots and pedestrian areas.
  • No bikes on the ski trails.
  • No littering allowed along the ski trails or in staging areas.
  • No smoking, no vaping and no cannabis in the Staging Areas.

Thank you for following the rules and being courteous.

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.

What are the Rules & Etiquette?

18. The Canadian Birkie Ski Festival is sanctioned by Nordiq Canada; as such there are regulations that we must follow.

  • We are unable to hold the event if the air temperature is colder than -25 C, and/or other weather considerations.

Please note that because we are sanctioned as a Loppet, not a Tier 1 or 2 Race, Nordiq Canada’s Fluorocarbon Wax Policy does not apply to our event.

Here are a few Birkie rules to remember for your ski event.

  1. Use ONLY Classical Technique. Skate skiing is NOT allowed during in-person ski events. Gliding on herringbone, sideways pushing, and skating except on corners are not allowed. You are allowed up to five pushes maximum per corner.
  2. Move when you hear Track. Please be courteous; if you hear another skier call Track, please get out of the way safely and quickly.
  3. Don’t stop in tracks at Food Stations. Please don’t stop in the tracks at the food stations. We ask that you step out of the tracks and stand well to the side so skiers can pass through.
  4. Do not ski with headphones.
  5. Stay on your course. Changing events during the race is not allowed. Anyone not passing all checkpoints on their registered course will be a DNF or DSQ.
  6. Prepare for cold temperatures. Dress appropriately in layers and bring clothing and wax for changing weather. Peel layers as necessary. Have adequate hand and head protection; keep well hydrated and well-fueled. Starts may be delayed and/or courses modified for safety. Check Birkie Social Media for updates on conditions.
  7. Keep hydrated. Drink lots of water or sports drink at food stations.
  8. Keep bib visible. Wear your bib only on your front and over top of your jacket for visibility.

Provincial Park Regulations

Courses and Start/Finish Lines are staged in a Provincial Recreation Area, as such all provincial park rules and regulations must be followed.

  • No alcohol is allowed in the park.
  • No dogs are allowed on the ski trails and must be leashed in the parking lots and pedestrian areas.
  • No bikes on the ski trails.
  • No littering allowed along the ski trails or in staging areas.
  • No smoking, no vaping and no cannabis in the Staging Areas.

Thank you for following the rules and being courteous.

Apres-Birkie

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.