The American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation has hired Allan Serrano, a Minnesota native and former collegiate coach, to succeed Shellie Milford as director of North America’s largest cross-country ski race.

Serrano will join the Birkie staff in September, after moving to Wisconsin from his home in High Falls, New York. A University of Vermont graduate, Serrano coached the Catamounts for six seasons, and also coached the USA Biathlon Association squads. His most recent work as a consultant and technical delegate for the International Ski Federation prepared him for a new role with the Birkebeiner.

“Allan comes to the Birkie with a wealth of knowledge of Nordic ski racing,” said Sue Scheer, president of the American Birkebeiner Foundation Board. “As we continue the tradition of excellence that the Birkie is known for, Allan’s skills will be put to good use immediately.”

He steps into the role that Milford filled for 15 years, a time of significant growth for the Birkebeiner, in both participants and events. Despite challenging weather conditions, the race weekend drew more than 10,000 skiers in 2014, carrying on a 40-year tradition as the pinnacle of citizen racing in America.Allan Serrano will join the Birkie staff in September, after moving to Wisconsin from his home in High Falls, New York. A University of Vermont graduate, Serrano coached the Catamounts for six seasons, and also coached the USA Biathlon Association squads. His most recent work as a consultant and technical delegate for the International Ski Federation prepared him for a new role with the Birkebeiner.

“Allan comes to the Birkie with a wealth of knowledge of Nordic ski racing,” said Sue Scheer, president of the American Birkebeiner Foundation Board. “As we continue the tradition of excellence that the Birkie is known for, Allan’s skills will be put to good use immediately.”

“I have a sense of the pride and ownership embodied in the greater community surrounding the Birkie,” Serrano said. “The brand is successful due to the diligent work of staff and volunteers over the years.

“I see the critical mission of this position is working with the chiefs and volunteers to uphold the tradition and values, as well as developing changes to keep the experience current for all constituent groups,” he said.

With a degree in forestry, Serrano also expects to assist the trail managers in future trail development and design.

“The Birkie trails are fantastic,” he said. “It is the greatest race course; challenging with all the hills. It’s tough to improve on that.”

Serrano will move to Wisconsin with his wife, a former contender for a spot on the U.S. Olympic team in 1994 and 1998, and their three children. He is scheduled to join the staff in September and work with Milford until her retirement in March.

Tom Held writes The Active Pursuit for Silebnt Sports.