11.0 km; 1:01:47; 029 m elevation; avg 5:49/km; MonSki Dunedin circles
The history of the Birkebeiner’s founder reminds me of my Dad’s story of bringing cross country skiing to Michigan’s Thumb. Both men had a vision of what the sport could bring to their areas, as well as the gumption to make things happen. From the Worldloppet.com American Birkebeiner page:
American Birkebeiner was founded in 1973 by Tony Wise, alpine ski resort owner of village Cable. In the beginning of the 1970s he understood that surrounding rolling hills and wooden trails were ideal for cross-country skiing, which was not yet popular in America. Wise, who had roots from Norway, brought to life the American version of the Birkebeinerrennet to attract more customers to his resort. Within a few years thousands of skiers were participating and his dream of becoming an international race came true. With the American Birkebeiner well on its way, Wise started to work on his dream of an international cross country ski series, which finalized in the founding of the Worldloppet. Today the American Birkebeiner ski event hosts over 10000 participants.
And from the Cass City Chronicle’s article, referenced earlier in my blog entry:
Guernsey is one of the pioneer cross-country skiers in Cass City and loves it just as much today as he did when he strapped on his first set of skis about six years ago.
Since then, the sport has grown from relative obscurity to a family sport enjoyed by an estimated 200 Cass City residents. And by all indications the boom has only begun.
It wasn’t’ always that way. Less than a decade ago, no one had seen a cross-country skier around Cass City, much less knew anything about the sport.
“I remember when I first started. I’d ski down the street and people would stop what they were doing to look,” Guernsey recalled.
Today, things are different. Just five years ago, 20,000 pairs of cross-country skis were imported to the United States. Last year, that number jumped to a half-million.
What’s the fascination with a sport knows to Scandinavians for hundreds of years? Simplicity, Guernsey says.
“It’s inexpensive compared to downhill skiing,” he says. “Your equipment is simpler, and it costs you less. And you can do it locally. You don’t have a long trip to make to a ski resort.
“And once you’ve bought your equipment, that’s it. You don’t have the expense of a rope tow each time you want to go skiing.”
Guernsey took up the sport after reading an article in a newspaper. He saw his first pair of cross-country skis at Marshall Fields in Chicago and decided to give a presentation on the differences between cross-country and Alpine skiing for Gavel Club.
“I borrowed a pair of skis from a shop in Bay City for the lecture and from there I talked myself into it,” he says.
You have got to hand it to people who can make things happen and start others moving in a positive direction. Where would we be without them?
2018/01/27 -089 days Noquemanon Ski Marathon
2018/02/10 -103 days North American Vasa