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 due to 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.
“Trail conditions at Elm Creek are great,” the store said in an e-mail sent to potential participants, assuring those who show up will be able to ski.
The cost is $20, but skiers with a 2017 Birkie Bib can register for $15 on site between 8 and 8:45 a.m., the store said.