An Osseo sports shop is stepping in to help fill the gap stemming from the cancellation of Saturday's American Birkebeiner.

Pioneer Midwest will stage what it's calling the "Hamsterbeiner" with 5K and 25K races on man-made snow Sunday at Elm Creek Park Reserve in Maple Grove.

Dubbing it as a fun, low-key way to wash away the "No Birkie Blues," the alternative event will send racers on loops around the park reserve's course that Nordic skiers affectionately call the "Hamstertrack," store spokesman Brad Johnson said.

Minnesota Olympian Brian Gregg and past winners of the Birkebeiner races will participate in skate- and classic-style events from 9 a.m. to noon. All levels of skiers are welcome to race.

On Friday, Birkebeiner officials called off the nation's largest cross-country ski race for only the second time in its 45-year history because of poor trail conditions in Hayward, Wis., where 11,200 skiers from 40 states and 23 countries were signed up.

When the Birkebeiner was scrubbed, Pioneer Midwest, in conjunction with the Three Rivers Park District quickly arranged the "Hamsterbeiner" as a substitute, and invited Birkebeiner skiers to participate.

The cost is $20, but skiers with a 2017 Birkie Bib can register for $15 on site between 8 a.m. and 8:45 a.m., the store said.

Tim Harlow

U gets football commit

Defensive tackle Elijah Teague, a highly coveted junior from Chicago Marist High School, verbally committed to the Gophers football team after an unofficial visit to campus. The 6-2, 287-pound Teague is a consensus three-star recruit who also had reported offers from Penn State, Wisconsin, Oklahoma, Tennessee, among others.


U softball wins two

The Gophers softball team, off to the best start in school history, improved to 13-0 with wins over UC Davis and Cal Poly in Fresno, Calif.

Dani Wagner's walk-off single capped a three-run seventh inning in a 5-4 win over UC Davis. The Gophers beat Cal Poly 3-1.

Gophers roundup

• The women finished fourth and the men fifth at the Big Ten indoors track and field championships in Geneva, Ohio. Indiana won the men's title and Penn State took the women's crown.

• The U baseball team defeated Seattle University 6-3 at U.S. Bank Stadium. Freshman Brett Schulze picked up the victory, giving up two runs in five innings.

• The men's gymnastics team finished third with a score of 405.600 in a quad meet with the Japanese national team (425.800), host Stanford (421.550) and the Canadian national team (392.700).

• The Gophers finished fourth at the Big Ten men's swimming and diving championships in Columbus, Ohio. Indiana won the title.


• Minnesota State Mankato swept the team titles at the NSIC indoor track and field championships in Mankato. It was the sixth straight conference title for the men and the second in a row for the women.

• St. Thomas swept the team titles at the MIAC indoor track and field championships in St. Paul. It was the 33rd straight conference title for the men and the 18th in a row for the women.

• The No. 1- ranked St. Cloud State wrestling team won the NCAA Division II Super 3 Region tournament in Moorhead, Minn.

• The No. 2-ranked Augsburg wrestling team won the NCAA Division III West Regional in Moorhead, Minn., with eight individuals qualifying for the national championships. The Auggies won their regional for the 15th straight year. Owen Webster, a 184-pounder from Shakopee, was named the tournament's Outstanding Wrestler.