Operation Get Jess To The Birkie

Cowbell Fever podcast listeners probably know Jess Marion, one of the Elite Wave Marion Sisters and a top-20 Birkie finisher in 2020. Jess is a teacher and ski coach, and this year the Maine State Ski Meet was the Wednesday and Thursday before the Birkie. No big deal, her husband would fly out with skis on Thursday, and she’d take a flight Friday morning out of Boston and arrive to dinner and freshly-waxed skis for the Birkie Saturday.

But remember that the Unofficial Guide suggests arriving early, because for long-distance travelers, anything can happen. And in Jess’s case, that anything is a foot of snow falling on Friday between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. in the northeast. So Jess had a backup plan: she kept her original Delta flight on Friday morning but the JetBlue flight was sold out. Delta has canceled its first two flights out of BOS on Friday, with no guarantee the later flights will make the trip and if they do, they may be quite delayed.

So, as Jess stood coaching on frozen slush with lousy cell reception, her husband was airborne on his way out, and I was in a car. But I love to play amateur travel agent, so I got to work. What about an early flight out of Bangor on Friday; the snow won’t hit there until 8 a.m., although it’s a long drive and would strand a car hours from her home. Another option was going to be to outfly the weather tonight. New York is getting hit, but DC and Detroit aren’t. Nothing to Detroit, but American does have a late flight from Portland to DC. With seats available. Ding ding ding! Jess: book this, fly to DC, overnight there, and then take your pick of flights to Minneapolis on Friday. Don’t worry about money, this is the Birkie we’re talking about. (As another skier friend of mine says, “this is a problem that can be solved with money.) Sure it may be hectic, but for the Birkie, you have to make sacrifices.

Not exactly what you want to see on a tight Birkie schedule.

Not exactly what you want to see on a tight Birkie schedule.

Watch out for Jess, though, I wouldn’t be surprised if she channels this into a stellar performance on Saturday.

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