After the cancellation of the Nove Mesto world cup in mid-February, I had to make a quick pivot to fly back home. I had really been looking forward to one last chance to compete at the international level this season, but due to Covid reasons, I had to book a last minute flight to Minnesota. Fortunately, this meant that I was able to make it home just in time for the American Birkebeiner! The Birkie has been an event that my family and I have been a part of since before I could walk. I grew up doing the Barnebirkie, Junior Birkie and Korteloppet, which is why it always means a lot to me to get back home for the week of festivities.
Enjoying the Barnebirkie as a little one.
Obviously, this year's Birkie looked quite different from years past, but that didn't stop the Birkie Foundation from putting on a really fun week! The biggest change from a normal Birkie year was that the skate and classic races were on different days. This meant that a few of the elite skiers signed up for both days. I had so much fun on Saturday, skiing with the elite women (and men) as we raced through the woods. I knew I would have to conserve as much energy as possible if I wanted to make it through the double Birkie, so I waited to push the pace until about 13k to go. From there, Rosie Frankowski and I worked together to gap the other women and it came down to an exciting sprint finish!
Happy Day :) (PC: American Birkebeiner)
I did the best I could Saturday afternoon, refueling and recharging, because Sunday morning we were back for more fun. Just as I was heading out to test my skis before the start, it started snowing lightly. We were expecting this, so I didn't let it stress me out, but boy did I underestimate what came next. In the ~3 hours that we were out classic racing I think about six inches of snow fell, making for a grueling day out there. Once we started catching the elite men, I tried staying behind them for as long as possible because as soon as we stepped out of tracks, they would be filled with a fresh coating of snail-slow snow. At one point, I looked up and noticed how gorgeous it was outside, but not exactly what you want during the middle of a 45k classic race. All I could do was laugh at that point! What was probably one of the most brutal races I've ever done, it was also one of the most memorable. Thank you to everyone who helped pull off such a safe and successful Birkie weekend! Can't wait for the next one! :)
This was EPIC! (PC: Renae Anderson)