The winter of 2019-20 has had its ups and downs in terms of both temperatures and snowfall, but it provided probably the best ski conditions in a decade for this year’s running of the American Birkebeiner Ski Race, according to local resident Tyler Gruetzmacher.
“This year’s Birkie was a continuation of a great winter of skiing,” Gruetzmacher said in a Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020, email.
“We have been skiing pretty much uninterrupted since December 1 here in Barron. The snowpack up on the Birkie trail was even better.”
Race organizers were surprised by an additional five inches of fresh snow on Monday, Feb. 17, which affected the north end of the trail, he added.
“The start and finish are 17 miles apart as the crow flies, so there can be considerable difference (in trail conditions),” he wrote.
“But they were able to deal with that, and set up the best course since 2010. The snow was firm and with overnight lows in the single digits, the snow stayed cold and fast through the morning and into the afternoon.”
The conditions were just as nice on Friday for the Kortelopet (about half the distance of the Birkie), Gruetzmacher added.
For a race that had been cancelled by poor conditions as recently as three years ago, it was “amazing to get two perfect days in a row,” he added.
According to an independent blogger, the Cable/Hayward area was expected to have temperatures between 10 and 15 degrees on Saturday, “and then warm up a bit faster.”
According to the Faster Skier website, temperatures steadily rose from the 20s at the start into the 30s by the finish of the Cable-to-Hayward race.
Eight men broke the two-hour mark in the Birkie’s 50-kilometer skate race. Australian Jessica Yeaton set a new women’s Birkie 50 k skate course record in 2:13.20.6.