A trio of skiers full of Norwegian heritage has been chosen to play the roles of the Birkebeiner Warriors and the mother whose centuries-old story inspired the modern-day races.
Barry Knapp and Darald Bothun, coaches on the Rochester High School Nordic Ski Team, will portray Torstein and Skervald, the birch leggers who rescued baby Prince Haakon during a Norwegian civil war in 1206.
Bothun’s daughter, Kristin, will portray Inga, the mother who protected the son who would be king.
The trio will ski the 54-kilometer American Birkebeiner in traditional garb, kicking and gliding on wooden skis. The re-creation has been a part of the Birkebeiner since 2005, and skiers and spectators cheer the Warriors from Cable to Hayward.
Darald Bothun fully embraces his 100% Norwegian ancestry and has been a member of the Sons of Norway for 39 years.
“We will proudly represent the Birkebeiner legend by demonstrating the connection between the founding values of this great and historical event, and our love of this sport by helping to inspire the next generation,” he said.
Kristin shares her father’s enthusiasm for her heritage and Nordic skiing.
“Lutefisk, lefse, and rommegrot are staples at the family holiday table,” she said. “I attended St. Olaf College, taking Norwegian as my foreign language. This aptitude allowed for me to bless my grandma with conversation in her native tongue.
"Additionally, while in post graduate dental school, I chose to extend my education to include a semester at the University of Bergen, Norway. My time there was enriching, making life-long friends, improving my ‘Norsk,’ hiking Ulriken, travelling, etc.
The 39th American Birkebeiner will start outside Cable on Feb. 25. More than 9,000 skiers, a record, have registered for the full Birkie, the Kortelopet and the Prince Haakon races.