So it happened. For the third time since 1973, the Birkie has been canceled in full. (In 1982, it was a lap race for international skiers, but the main race was done away with.) Not enough snow—barely; Morse, 30 miles east of Cable, is sitting on 7 inches—to provide a safe course. The weather is rather unprecedented: a heat wave swept the nation (and California is on course to break all-time rainfall records). Is this an outlier, or the new normal? Probably somewhere in between. For now, we have to hope that 2018 is more in the normal (rather than 10 degrees above normal) and we have a nice carpet of snow for the Birkie.
If I were the Birkie (and I’m not) I’d highly consider moving the race a week earlier. With the growth of the race and the Kortelopet on a separate day, this would put the Birkie on a three-day weekend, so the races would be on Saturday and Sunday (in some order). There would be some cascading effects, namely the Finlandia and Book Across the Bay would probably want to move a week later. The Worldloppet schedule might be affected, too, with the Gatineau Loppet probably swapping a week later as well, but it would make sense for the Birkie to be on the three-day weekend (and data show that snow in the northeast is moving a bit later in the season, although Gatineau rarely suffers for snow).
It’s something to consider. The Birkie has always been the last weekend in February, but as the climate changes, it may have to change, too.
In any case, see you next winter—and winter, we hope!—in Wisconsin.