The 2021 American Birkebeiner and Korteloppet will be remembered as the COVID Birkie after race organizers completed a year of planning to pull off the largest ski race in North America despite the pandemic.
In order to accommodate the usual thousands of skiers, events were spread out over five days and skiers were also encouraged to ski the races virtually. Races were limited to a few hundred skiers per day while more than one-half of all skiers completed their races virtually on designated trails like Elver Park in Madison or Mirror Lake State Park. Skiers also followed masking and social distancing in the start and finish areas.
The Ice Age Nordic ski team sent eight skiers to the actual race events in Cable, including three coaches and one Board Member.
On Friday Feb. 26, Amelia Heider placed third in the high school girls division of the 26-kilometer Korteloppet with a time of 1 hour 55 minutes, while Dan Heider won the Age 50-54 Men’s division in 1:53. Sister Hannah finished 20th in the overall Women’s division.
Ice Age coach Dale Fanney also completed the Korte in the Men’s 70-74 Division and finished fourth.
On Sunday, sophomore skier Emily Whyte battled through three-inches of falling snow to win the Girls High School Korteloppet and finished second overall in the Women’s division.
On Saturday, senior Anna Vanderhoef completed her first Birkie, skating to a 12th-place finish in the Women’s 18-24 age group with a time of 3 hrs. 14 minutes. Ice Age alumnus and Board member Syd Endres completed the Skate Birkie in 3 hrs. 16 minutes.
Youth Ski Coach Paula Tonn completed the Classical Birkie on Friday in a time of 4hrs. 16 minutes.
“This was an incredibly successful Birkie and the organizers deserve an enormous amount of credit for all their planning and hard work to create a safe and exciting event,” Fanney said. “Our three high school skiers had fantastic results which reflect their dedication and extensive training.”