The American Birkebeiner has opened its annual contest to select the skiers who will portray the original Birkebeiner warriors, Torstein and Skervald, and the dutiful mother, Inga, in the 40th edition of the Nordic celebration.
The Birkie traces its roots to the valiant flight of the original Birkebeiners during the Norwegian civil war in 1206. Legend holds that the warriors carried Prince Haakon for 50 kilometers, from Lillehammer to Trondheim to save him from invaders. The prince’s mother, Inga, joined them on their heroic ski journey.
Each year, the American Bikebeiner features skiers recreating those roles.
The group of three skiers selected will dress in authentic period clothing and ski on wooden skis. They will also serve as ambassadors on the trail, encouraging skiers along the way. On race day the two Warriors ski the entire 54K Classic Birkie race course. Inga may choose to ski either the same 54K Classic or cut off to ski the 23K Kortelopet course. Either way, she will re-join the Warriors to Ski the final two blocks up Main Street to the finish line.
“The re-enactment has become a great tradition that our skiers, volunteers, and spectators look forward to every year,” said Ned Zuelsdorff, Executive Director of the American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation. “For our 40th year especially, this re-enactment plays a very special part in the Birkie race and in the festivities during the week leading up to Saturday. The contest itself has become one of the highlights of the Birkie year.”
Entries are due Nov. 15, and prospective Warriors should share their skiing, passion, sense of tradition, and why skiing in these roles is important to each of you. Entry details can be found here.
Portraying the Birkie Warriors may be one of the best ways to enter the 2013 Birkebeiner, given the rush to fill all 10,000 slots in the Birkebeiner, Kortelopet and the Prince Haakon races. By late last week, more than 8,400 skiers had already registered, and the event is on pace to fill months ahead of the Feb. 23 date.