Cross-Country ski team competes in the Birkebeiner

William Daniels

Few times in my life have I seen as much spandex in one place as at the 34th annual Birkebeiner ski race.
Last weekend, the Lawrence cross-country ski team traveled to Hayward, Wis. to participate in the “Birkie.”
The race, which is host to 6,500 skiers each year, is the largest Nordic ski race in North America.
In a winter with less than optimal snow conditions the race was a successful event to end the season.
Two days prior to the race, officials deemed the course unsafe and unfit for racing due to a thin snow base. As such, this year’s race was shortened from 51 to 25 kilometers and was an untimed and noncompetitive ski.
Despite this, the Lawrence team skied hard, as if it were a competition.
After the race, coach and skier Ben Kraemer said that the “trail conditions were remarkable given that there was only an inch of snowfall.”
However, Coach Kraemer was disappointed that the race was untimed, even if it was noncompetitive.
Finishers in the freestyle division include Kraemer, Mike Barnett and Niko Radoshevich, while Chris Wright, Emily Thiem, Will Daniels and first-time racer Pat Breese skied in the classic division.
Carly Monahan skied in her first Korteloppet, an 18-kilometer race on the same trail as the Birkie, and Christine Beaderstadt raced in the Prince Haakon sprint challenge.
While Kraemer and Barnett were the top Lawrence finishers, Kraemer noted that Breese and Radoshevich each had outstanding performances.
Earlier in the season, the team traveled to Iola, Wis. to compete in the Norseman Challenge, which included a 6-kilometer classic race – shortened from 10 kilometers because of a thin snow base and no classic tracks – and a 16-kilometer freestyle race.
In the classic race, Kraemer took ninth, followed by Daniels in 11th, Barnett in 14th and Wright in 15th. Kraemer took 22nd in the skate race, while Barnett came in 24th.
The Birkebeiner wrapped up the racing season for the ski team, but with a foot of fresh snow, they can begin training for the next Birkie.