MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Thousands of outdoor enthusiasts were hoping that Friday’s overnight snow storm would bless Hayward, Wisconsin with lots of precious powder for the American Birkebeiner.

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Sadly, Hayward was just on the upper edge of Friday’s snow, and organizers were forced to make the tough decision to cancel the races.

A Snow-Free Birkebeiner

The news was not much of a surprise, but still really sad for everyone involved in organizing North America’s largest ski race, and of course, everyone planning to ski it.

This was only the second outright cancellation of the event. The first was back in 2000.

All is not lost, as they will have a 5-kilometer course open for a fun ski Saturday. And of course, food and beer tents and live music.

Racers have been descending on Hayward for the past week. They were treated Thursday night to a spaghetti-and-salad feed at Steakhouse and Lodge. The town has really been hopping the last few days. People can’t get out on the trails, so they check out the shops and restaurants. Since everyone is in town anyway, they’re really making the most of it.

The Birkie Business Boom

It’s a big week for businesses in Hayward. New Moon Ski shop is a mecca for skiers during the Birkie. They stop in to check out the latest gear, ask about conditions and get tips for waxing their skis.

Co-owner Joel Harrison says without the Birkie, his shop would be a two-man labor of love. Because the Birke is in town, they have 15 – 20 employees. Still, bad weather can make things difficult.

“Businesses in Hayward really bounce up during the Birkie week, and then they can get really quiet a week later. So you might find that certain businesses does, you know, 30-percent-of-the-year volume in a week, and that’s not too uncommon. If you have a weather issue like this, it can shut that whole thing down,” Harrison said. “I do know a lot of people are planning on coming anyways, so we’re looking forward to that.”

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The weather has really given people a chance to check out downtown Hayward. Liz and Mark stopped into a must-see restaurant in town: The Moccasin Bar. It is right on Highway 63 when you get into town. You see stuffed dead animals on Wisconsin bar walls all the time – but this one turns the taxidermy into little scenes.

Alternative Birkie Events

Despite the lack of snow, people can still get out on the trails Saturday. Five kilometers will be open at the Birkebeiner Trail Head in Cable, Wisconsin.

Mark and Liz stopped by to see preparations for the party that will follow skiing. Huge tents for food and beer are set up. Some people were already out tossing a football around.

They’ll enjoy live music Saturday, and they’ll have plenty to talk about.

The Birkebeiner Expo

People stopped by the Birkebeiner Expo all Friday morning to pick up their race bibs, hoping a last-minute storm would save the day. But organizers made the call to cancel the event at noon. The only skiing this weekend will be a short course just for fun.

People train hard for this and travel a long way, so it’s really sad to see this happen. But everyone’s in the same boat and determined to have a good time anyway.


Here are some of the places they checked out on Day 2 of the Hayward trip:
Birkebeiner 2017
Steakhouse And Lounge
Moon Ski & Bike
Moccasin Bar

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Click here to see our other stops in this Goin’ To The (Frozen) Lake series!