Organizers of the American Birkebeiner ski races plan to move the start line for the massive numbers of skiers from the Cable Union Airport to land south of Cable, and east of Hwy. 63, according to a report in the Sawyer County Record.
The story details information shared at public information meeting led by Ned Zuelsdorff, executive director of the American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation.
With more than 9,000 skiers registered for the 2102 Birkie races, the event remains one of the largest Nordic ski festivals in North America and rivals its counterparts in Europe.
Based on the plans described by Zuelsdorff, the Birkie would move from its current start location adjacent to the Telemark resort in 2013, after buying roughly 80 acres of land near East Leonard School Road. From a Google map, that appears to be roughly east of the R Place Cafe, off Highway 63, and south of Cable.
The Birkie foundation would build a 5-mile connector trail linking to the current Birkebeiner course at the North End warming shelter, off Randysek Road.
Access, in several variations, appears to be the factor behind the proposed move, which would cost roughly $250,000 of the foundation’s money.
As described in the Sawyer County piece, the Birkie organizers are looking to secure a start area of their own that avoids future conflicts with private land-owners. In its current configuration, several miles of the Birkie trail cross Telemark property, and access to the air field depends on approvals from various government entities.
The story quotes Zuelsdorff: “Very importantly, it eliminates crossing private land; it assures we would have trail access for the future. Right now, we cross six private properties getting from the start line at the airport to county land. Those private landowners have tended to be very cooperative with us. We basically have a handshake agreement with them now for access to those trails. It’s difficult to re-route something like the Birkie course.
“At the new start area and trailhead, we also would have improved snow conditions and less wind. I think it’s a far more aesthetic course than we have now with the power line. Some of (the new route) was clearcut a few years ago and you would have a terrific view of the river valley. And you’re into mature forest much faster.
“It would create a year-round permanent trailhead for other recreation, including running, hiking, and perhaps mountain biking. It would bring more recreational users to the Cable area. It would be a great, easy way to get to the trail.”
Skiers may object to the loss of the Telemarked lodge as a pre-race warming and resting area. The start area would have two heated tents, but Birkie organizers plan to bus nearly all participants from off-site parking areas.