Mind your units!

The Birkie has a course preview up, and for the most part, it is quite informative. You can follow along as they ski the course, see where the hills are (and aren’t) and add up the total climb which comes out to … about 250 feet per lap.

Wait, really? That seems awfully … flat. Sure the race won’t feature the Power Lines, or Firetower Hill, or Boedecker, or OO, or that sneaky climb with 23k to go, or the Mosquito Brook Grinder, or Bitch Hill, or Sunset Hill, or the 77 Grinder, but 200 feet over 10k is an average of just 1.5% up or down which is just not a lot of climbing.

It seems flat because it is flat! The units on the course preview are all mucked up. On the upper left, the elevation is shown in meters and reads in at 135m. But the Birkie is actually at about 440m. Down below at the lower left, the course is shown in feet, at about 440 feet (give or take) when that should be meters. So instead of multiplying by 3.28081 (if you thought i had to look that up, how dare you!) they divided. So the 250 feet of climb per lap is more like 250 meters.

That 27 foot climb up the Bauer wouldn’t homologate. But it turns out it’s a 36m climb, and the total height differential on the course is 43m, with 160m of climb over 3.75km (here’s the 3.75km homologation, and all the courses at Telemark). The rest of the course is relatively flat, but since it uses a good deal of the World Cup trails, there are definitely hills to be found! In fact, the homologation notes that “[Total Climb] is at the higher end at 160m.”

While the citizens race will leave out a couple of these steeper hills, it will climb much of it. This isn’t some namby-pamby European loppet up and down a river valley. This is the Birkie. It wouldn’t be the Birkie without hills.

Update: another answer, via Nordic Insights via some USST folks via Strava (I guess they’re allowed on the course early) is just about 213m per lap. So the 50k race will have about 1000m of climb, which, it turns out, is just about the same as the normal Birkie.

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