Birkie 2024 Tips

Greetings Birkie skiers! It’s almost time for Birkie 2024. I went to the Korteloppet today so you didn’t have to and have some takeaways you may wish to consider to have the most enjoyable Birkie. In no particular order:

  • The buses are … interesting. The Korte only had buses from Birkie Ridge and probably should have had more. Expect that there may be some long lines, and get ready to wait at the end of the race as well (it was about a 40 minute wait this afternoon to leave the venue, but at 18˚ it felt longer than that). Since all spectators are taking the buses too, if you have a bib, you can probably pull rank and jump to the front of the line. (This may especially be the case for Elite Wave skiers, since they’re the only ones starting between 7 a.m. and 1 p.m.)
  • Do not expect to have cell data service at the race site. Some phones worked fine. Many did not. Placing a call on the cellular network, which may use a different band than the data network, may work better. If you’re planning to meet someone, pretend like it’s Birkie #25 (i.e. The ’90s) and come up with a location and time rather than relying on your phone.
  • The course should be firm, although uphills will likely become sugary. Expect it to be fast otherwise, and try not to snowplow the hills.
  • There are a couple of road crossings, expect these to be soft and dirty. If you are deciding between using your best skis or not, take this into consideration.
  • The beer tent was taking credit cards, but some cash for brats may be a good decision.
  • It’s about a 10 minute walk between the start area and the celebration zone.
  • There are a lot of opportunities to watch the racers on course. If you go out on the golf course you may be able to see skiers come through many times. The kilometer or so between the celebration zone and the start area is mostly blocked off, but you can probably end-around and find some hills (generally the hills are on the far side of the course) if you want to cheer on your favorite skier (Jessie Diggins).
  • Thursday’s mud has transformed into Friday’s mostly frozen mud, and with temperatures around 0 tonight, Saturday’s completely frozen mud. In the morning. By afternoon the sun may be thawing out the mud, so plan to bring boots especially if you’ll be lingering into the afternoon.
  • When you’re done racing, change into dry clothes. Even in the sun, a long line for the buses may not be fun.
  • Sunday’s classic race may be interesting, too. The course should refreeze overnight, but by midday it will probably warm up both on and off the course. Expect klister, klister and more klister, and mud.

Is this optimal? No, optimal would be a beautiful course and a Main Street finish. But will there be skiing, beer and bratwurst? You better believe it.

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