Jessie Diggins Autographed Bibs Auction During Birkie Week 2023 a Big Sucess! Money raised for one of the two Electric Snowmobiles!

Monday, May 8, 2023

The Birchleggings Club Has Raised Money for the Purchase of a Taiga Electric NOMAD Snowmobile for the American Birkebeiner!


What began as a waste reduction project to convert over stocked Birkie race bibs into reusable shopping bags (Birkie Bib Bags) has taken on a life of its own!

The BLC  (Birchleggings Club) is thrilled to announce that the club has raised over $25,000 to purchase the performance edition of the all Electric NOMAD Utility Snowmobile from Taiga Motors in Montreal, Canada.  As far as we know, Taiga is the only company manufacturing EV Snowmobiles and Jet Skis. The BLC is waiting to hear from Taiga that their machine is ready to pick up this Spring/ Summer in Rutland VT, currently the only Taiga service center in the lower 48 states. BLC President Paul Thompson and Board member Ralph Bovard will drive to Montreal to meet with Taiga staff with the intention to invite and confirm Taiga’s attendance at the Birkie Expo at Birkie 50 in February 2024. Then drive to Rutland to pick up our Nomad and deliver to Jim Sokup, ABSF Facilities Manager and his trail team at ABSF. The Nomad will come with a level 1 and level 2 charger that will allow a fast charge of only 3 hours for a complete charge.

The fundraising campaign was given a boost when Olympian and Minnesota native Jessie Diggins endorsed the project and the idea of filming the lead group of racers without leaving a trail of gas emissions to ski through. Jessie donated 4 of her World Cup autographed race bibs and one autographed Birkie Bib to be auctioned off at Birkie #49 last February. The 5 bibs raised more than $3000 and helped to generate more contributions before, during and after the Birkie. The BLC has an agreement with the ABSF to loan the Nomad to the Loppet Foundation for the Loppet World Cup the week before Birkie 50 where Jessie and other World Cup skiers will be racing.

Attached are photos of the lucky Birkie skiers who won the autographed bibs from Jessie Diggins at Birkie 49. They are Joe Luedtke, Ryan Burke, Kevin Schoessow, Steve Weiss and Steve Poulin from SWIX. Steve is not pictured.

When asked about the significance of this project by the BLC, President Paul Thompson replied:  “As Birchleggers, we are committed to keeping the legacy and traditions of the Birkie strong and healthy. This can only happen with a healthy winter season with abundant snow. The ABSF has shown a strong commitment to Birkie Green and moving the ABSF towards being a good environmental steward. We want to do our part and lead our favorite event into the next 50 years for generations of skiers to come.

Donations are being received by the Birchleggings Club for the purchase of a second NOMAD for Birkie 50!


Joe Luedtke







Ryan Burke

Kevin Schoessow

Steve Weiss

Thursday, April 13, 2023

Birchleggings Club 2023 Awards Breakfast Wrap-Up

The annual Birchleggings Club Awards Breakfast took place on February 26, 2023, the day after the 49th Annual American Birkebeiner. Approximately 100 persons attended. The event was open to Birchleggings Club members, new and veteran Birchleggers, all skiers and their families. The Hayward Steakhouse and Lodge once again provided an excellent breakfast buffet.

As folks arrived and purchased their breakfast tickets, Birchleggers also were able to renew their Birchleggings Club memberships. Bidding also 

opened in a silent auction for a framed and autographed World Cup race bib worn and signed by Jessie Diggins. The bib was from her third-place finish in the 10 km Freestyle event at Falun, Sweden in 2019. A second bib on the auction block, also autographed by Jessie, was a 2020 Birkie classic-skier wave-5 race bib.

Paul Thompson, Birchleggings Club President, opened the program as people finished their breakfasts. He welcomed everyone and gave special general recognition to new 20, 30, and 40-year Birchleggers.

Dave Balsiger, Birchleggings Club Treasurer, continued the tradition of performing his song, Birkebeiner Morning. Even though many of us have seen changes in the Birkie events, the racecourse, skiing techniques, the weather on race day, and our own results on the trail, Dave’s song still rings true. Everyone enjoyed it.

A wrap-up summary of Birke 2023 was given by Ben Popp, Executive Director of the American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation (ABSF). The race went smoothly, and he thanked the hundreds of volunteers that make it happen. He gave a quick summary of the progress being made at Telemark

Village. Multiple projects are underway. Some have been completed, some are in progress.

The annual Tony Wise Spirit Award was presented by Steve Carmazon and Dave Balsiger to two families of bridge builders, figuratively and literally. Recipients Judy and Jay Hoeschler were the force behind the installation of the Key Log Bridge over the highway at OO. Award winners Don and Heidi Becker, & Family have been active in guiding the race as ABSF board members and Birchleggings Club board members. Their law firm has been a past major-sponsor of the race. They made the Becker Law Link Bridge over Highway 77 possible. Steve Carmazon gave an excellent presentation to the recipients, and each of the award winners gave a warm, heartfelt speech as they thanked the crowd for their awards. A full summary of the Tony Wise Spirit Award presentation for 2023 can be seen here on our website.


Jane DeKraay from the Loppet Foundation in Minneapolis (and a new 20-year Birchlegger) spent a few minutes letting everyone know that COOP FIS Cross Country World Cup race events would be held at Theodore Wirth Park in Minneapolis from February 17-19, 2024. The events will be free and open to the public. More information can be found at the Loppet Foundation website:

Paul Thompson gave a report on Birchleggings Club activities and accomplishments. The club’s grandest effort is an ongoing effort to raise funds to purchase two electric snowmobiles for the ABSF. Part of the Birkie Green Initiative, the electric machines will be used as chase vehicles for the filming of Birkebeiner women’s and men’s race leaders. With electric snowmobiles, the lead pack will not be subjected to gas fumes for 50 km. An even greater long-term benefit will be the use of the machines by the ABSF trail crew and winter-event staff for years to come. A lower carbon footprint from the electric snowmobiles will assist the ABSF in achieving its goals for Birkie Green.

The highlight of the fundraising during Birkie Week 2023 was the auction of five framed race bibs, all autographed by Jessie Diggins. Two bibs were silently auctioned at the Birkie Expo, one at the Birkie Bash, and two at today’s Birchleggings Club Breakfast. After describing the auction efforts, Paul Thompson opened the auction to live bidding for Jessie’s framed World Cup race bib and the signed 2002 Birkie Classic bib. Steve Weiss was the successful bidder for Jessie’s bib, and Steve Poulin of Swix Sport USA won the 2002 Birkie Classic bib. Paul had six additional unframed autographed Birkie bibs that he quickly auctioned to four lucky breakfast attendees. Three of the unframed bibs were signed by Jessie Diggins and three were signed by Ben Popp. The bib auctions raised in total over $4000 during Birkie weekend and put the fundraising drive over the top for the purchase of the first snowmobile for filming the women’s race. Efforts will continue in 2023 for the men’s machine.

The program culminated with the presentation of 20, 30, and 40-year Birchlegger individual awards. The new Birchleggers and Uberleggers received their recognition plaques from Birchleggings Club president Paul Thompson to the applause of the crowd.

Thanks to Birchleggings Board Member, James Tonorio for this wrap-up and to Kelly O'Day and Edward Eroe for the photographs.


We look forward to the next Birchleggings Club awards breakfast on February 25, 2024. Your Birchleggings Club Board of Directors.



Thursday, March 30, 2023

2023 Tony Wise Birkie Spirit Award Recipients

The Tony Wise Birkie Spirit Award is given for outstanding contributions to the growth and development of the American Birkebeiner, and the sport of cross-country skiing.

Birchleggings Club Board Members, Steve Carmazon and Dave Balsiger, gave out the awards at the Birchleggings Awards Breakfast on February 26, 2023. These are Steve’s words from the ceremony.

Twice, in 2010, and 2020 we have given this award to two different recipients, and we are going to honor two different couples today, and, as you will soon see, both have much in common with Tony.

Paul and Steve with Jay & Judy Hoeschler
Many of the past recipients of this award have been Birchleggers, or, in the first case today, related to Birchleggers. They made giant contributions to improve the infrastructure of the Birkie trail, coming forward to do so, of their own initiative, demonstrating leadership, giving of their time, talent, and treasure, and in this case, to build the tangible things we see, use, and benefit from.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all my fellow Birchleggers, (you know who you are) who’ve likewise contributed of your, time, talent, and treasure, to build the tangible and intangible things that make this event and trail, the success that it is!

Besides starting Telemark ski area in 1947, building a lodge, founding the American Birkebeiner, and the Worldloppet, being a two term Mayor of Hayward and founding the Sawyer County Historical Society, Tony Wise also had a thing for bridges, the first International Bridge was at Telemark, Circa 1974, some of us here remember skiing across it, before finishing the early Birkie Races. If you’ll excuse the Pun, the American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation (ABSF) wisely honored Tony’s Legacy, in 2015, with the International Bridge over Highway 63.

Tony also showed his interest in history, by founding Historyland, and in 1960, honored this areas' legacy of the timber industry, by starting the World Lumberjack Championships.

One of the sports in those championships is Log Rolling. Our first recipients today started a company called Key Log Rolling, making plastic logs, that, when filled with water, simulate a real log, to practice the sport of log rolling.

They took the initiative to sponsor the first permanent bridge on the Birkie course at County Road OO, installed in 2018, making that road crossing much safer. For this, we profusely thank Judy and Jay Hoeschler!

Dave with Heidi & Don Becker
The second of our recipients this morning, are both Birchleggers, and, like Tony, have a thing for bridges. Their last name should be familiar to most Birchleggers, as their law firm sponsored the Birkie for at least one year, with the law firm's name was on our race bibs.

One half of this dynamic duo is one of only two people to have been at one time both on the ABSF Board and a member of the Birchleggings Club Board. The Bridge bearing their name, was installed over Highway 77, on October 28th, 2020, and was dedicated on August 14, 2021. Several of our board members attended that dedication. Both the Birchleggings Club, and several well-known Birchlegger families also donated to help pay for it.

Dave Balsiger announced that Don and Heidi Becker, & Family, as the second recipients of the 2023 Tony Wise Birkie Spirit Award.

See the Tony Wise Spirit Award page for a listing of all the award recipients.

A special thanks to Kelly O'Day for the photographs.

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Birchleggings Club Annual Awards Breakfast 2023

The Annual Awards Breakfast is Back for 2023!

We cordially invite you to join us at the Birchleggers Club Breakfast on Sunday, Feburary 26, 2023. The event will be held from 09:00 -11:00 AM at the Steakhouse and Lodge, off of Highway 27 in Hayward. 

New 20, 30, and 40 year Birkie skiers will be recognized and presented with their Birchleggers awards. New 20 year Birchleggers will receive a free breakfast, compliments of the Birchleggings Club!

Note: If you cannot make the breakfast, awards can be picked up at the Birkie Store in the Celebration Zone after the Birkie Race on February 25, 2023.

Ben Popp, Executive Director of the American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation, will be providing an update on the Birkie. This year's recipients of the Tony Wise Spirit of the Birkie Award will be honored, and we will be having a Live Auction for an autographed Jessie Diggins World Cup Bib!

Guests are welcome! No reservations are required. Breakfast tickets are sold at the door and the cost is $16. Come hang out with fellow skiers. Skiers are encouraged to wear their Birchleggers bib! You can also donate your bib to our Birkie Bib Bags Fundraising Project.

The address, telephone number, GPS Coordinates, and website of The Steakhouse & Lodge are:
Steakhouse and Lodge
15860 T Bone Lane
Hayward, WI 54843
GPS:46.002568, -91.486723
What we do: The Birchleggings Club Inc. supports the American Birkebeiner in various ways. We recognize and present awards to the 20, 30 and 40 year skiers at our annual Birchlegger Sunday breakfast. The Tony Wise Award, which is given in recognition of significant contribution to the growth and success of the Birkebeiner, is presented annually by the Birchleggings Club. In our most major effort, the club funded the Birchleggings warming hut at Mosquito Brook on the Birkie trail. The Birchleggings Club played a significant role in the funding of the Tony Wise Museum of the American Birkebeiner.

More recently, the club contributed to the funding of the Becker Law Link and installed the Birchleggings Bell on the Birkebeiner trail. The Birchleggings Club has contributed to the Capital Campaign for Mt. Telemark Conservancy and Telemark Village by purchasing one acre of conservancy land. In preparation for the 50th Anniversary of the Birkie in 2024, the BLC is raising funds to purchase a Taiga “Nomad” Electric Snowmobile to donate to ABSF for trail use and filming the lead groups during the women’s and men’s Birkie without filling the trail with fuel emissions

What else we do:  To promote participation by youth in skiing and healthy lifestyle activities, the Birchleggings Club helps to provide Korteloppet entry-fee scholarships for high school skier athletes through the Wisconsin Nordic Network. The club also contributes to the “Nordic Rocks for Schools” program of the Central Cross-Country Ski Association (CXC). This program assists schools in obtaining Nordic ski equipment for their physical education classes.

Birchleggings Hut: The Birchleggings Club is the sponsor of the Mosquito Brook hut.  Stop by the Mosquito Brook Hut to be warmed by the fire and view the vintage ski pictures, Birkie posters, and old skis.  

The Birchleggings Club ® Membership: Birchleggers Member Dues -  Now is the time to pay your annual Birchleggers dues. Dues are $35. Dues-paying members are eligible for gear discounts at several ski retailers, and are also eligible to run as or vote for the Birchleggers Board of Directors.  For convenience (and some savings), dues can be paid for multiple years:   See more info at our Membership Page on the Bichleggings Website.

Good luck in this year's 2023 Birkie!

The Birchleggings Club  

Friday, January 13, 2023

Jessie Diggins Autographed Bibs To Be Auctioned During Birkie Week

Birkie Green

The Birchleggings Club (BLC) is embarking on a major effort to support the Birkie Green initiative to reduce waste and carbon emissions for American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation (ABSF) operations.


In preparation for the 50th Anniversary of the Birkie in 2024, the BLC is raising funds to purchase a Taiga “Nomad” Electric Snowmobile to donate to ABSF for trail use and filming the lead groups during the women’s and men’s Birkie without filling the trail with fuel emissions. See photo below.


Testimonial from Jessie Diggins, Olympic X-C Skiing Top Medalist for the USA

“As an athlete, following a gas-powered vehicle filming the lead pack is harmful to both my lungs and to the planet. I highly encourage EV snow machines to be used at race venues whenever possible to reduce the breathing issues for the athletes and to cut down emissions.”

Jessie Diggins, X-C Ski Legend


Jessie Diggins is the USA’s most-decorated world-class cross-country skier of all time. She is the first US Nordic racer ever to win an Olympic gold medal, obtained in the team sprint with Kikkan Randall, at PyeongChang in 2018. She won individual silver and bronze medals at Beijing in 2022. Her FIS Nordic World Ski Championship record includes four medals from 2013 to 2017. Jessie was the first American to take the top spot in the women’s overall standings of the FIS Cross-Country World Cup for the 2020-21 season. She took top honors in the 2008 and 2009 Kortelopet skate races. The Kortelopet wins and coming from her home in Afton, Minnesota make her accomplishments even more heartwarming for Birkie enthusiasts.


One (or more) of Jessie’s Race Bibs Could Be Yours

Jessie Diggins has autographed and donated a few of her World Cup bibs and a Birkie Bib to the BLC to help raise funds for the electric snowmobile. These one-of-a-kind, and frankly, historic, bibs will be auctioned for sale during Birkie Week #49. Proceeds will be used toward purchase of the Taiga Nomad Electric Snowmobile by the BLC to be given to ABSF.





Auction Schedule

Live auction:

Birkie Bash

Thursday, February 23, 2023, 5:30 pm

Steakhouse & Lodge, Hayward, WI

Silent Auction:

Birchleggings Club Booth at the Birkie Expo - Hayward High School

Birkie Green Booth at the Birkie Expo

Thursday, February 23 & Friday, February 24, 2023


Birchleggings Club Annual Breakfast

Sunday, February 26, 2023, 9:00 am

Steakhouse & Lodge, Hayward, WI



If you prefer just making a monetary donation in support of the Taiga Nomad Electric Snowmobile project, please go to the Birchleggings Club, Inc. Donation Page.

Birchleggings Club - Birkie Bib Bag Project

Birkie Green

The Birchleggings Club (BLC) is embarking on a major effort to support the Birkie Green initiative to reduce waste and carbon emissions for American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation (ABSF) operations.


In preparation for the 50th Anniversary of the Birkie in 2024, the BLC is raising funds to purchase a Taiga “Nomad” Electric Snowmobile to donate to ABSF for trail use and filming the lead groups during the women’s and men’s Birkie without filling the trail with fuel emissions.


Testimonial from Jessie Diggins, Olympic X-C Skiing Top Medalist for the USA

 "As an athlete, following a gas-powered vehicle filming the lead pack is harmful to both my lungs and to the planet. I highly encourage EV snow machines to be used at race venues whenever possible to reduce the breathing issues for the athletes and to cut down emissions."


Birkie Bib Bag Project

A simple way that nearly anyone can support Birkie Green and the electric snowmobile purchase is through the Birkie Bib Bag (BBB) project. Used Birkie race bibs from 2013 or later are being collected and converted into re-usable shopping bags.

These bags are strong, lightweight, and much more compact than traditional re-useable bags. Proceeds from the sales of these BBB’s will support Birkie Green initiatives, promote the Birkebeiner all year long while you are shopping, and… used bibs will be kept out of the landfill!


How to Participate

Purchase a Birkie Bib Bag:

Bib Bags will be available for purchase at the Birchleggings Club booth and the Birkie Green booth during the Birkie Expo on Thursday and Friday of race week.


Bags will also be available at the BLC Annual Awards Breakfast on Sunday morning after the Birkie.


You can also purchase bibs right now for $20, (shipping included) by contacting:


Jim Tenorio at or Paul Thompson at


Donate your used bib(s) for us to re-sell:

Bibs (from Birkie/Korte races 2013 or later) can be dropped off at the Birkie office in Hayward, WI, or can be sent to:


Paul Thompson, President

Birchleggings Club

4244 Crocker Ave.

Edina, MN 55416


If you prefer just making a monetary donation in support of the Taiga Nomad Electric Snowmobile project, please go to the Birchleggings Club, Inc. Donation Page.

Have your own bib(s) made into a bag(s) for you to keep: If you would like your used bib(s) to be made into a BBB and returned to you, send your bib(s) to Paul Thompson at the address above along with a check, payable to Birchleggings Club, for $20 for each bib and your return address. No charge for return postage to you!

Sunday, October 16, 2022

Birchleggings Club Annual Meeting and Fall Board Meeting Wrap-Up

The Birchleggings Club Annual Meeting and Fall Board Meeting was held on September 23, 2022, from 03:00-06:00pm at the Mosquito Brook Hut on the American Birkebeiner Trail. See link to YouTube Video below. 
In attendance were six of the nine board members, Andrew Wall the Development Director of the American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation (ABSF) and ABSF Board member Sue Scheer our grill master for our picnic, and seven new Birchleggers and spouses. 


Reports were made from our three working groups: Membership, Fundraising and Birkie Green, along with our Treasures report and plans for our activities at the Birkie Trail Run the next day and the upcoming American Birkebeiner 49th Ski Race in February 2023.


Highlights from the meeting include Birchleggings Club Vice President, Bob Britz explaining the benefits of the “Birkie Bucks” Discount card that will be distributed to paid members and others at the price of $20, a real steal for a card worth upwards of $500.


Steve Carmazon, our Membership Chair and a 46-year Birkie finisher, encouraged all Birchleggers to consider being an active member and visit our website using the handy QR code shown here. 


Birkie Green continues to be a core principle of the ABSF and the Birchleggings Club is supporting the efforts to drive sustainability in four areas:


1.   Waste Reduction and the introduction of composting.

2.   Electrifying tools and machinery.

3.   Offsetting the Birkie’s carbon production using local offsets when possible.

4.   Committing to sustainably sourced swag whenever possible.


The Birchleggings Club supports these efforts with a unique project called Birkie Bib Bags (BBB). The collection of used and unused Birkie Bibs to be sewn into re-usable shopping bags. These bags will spread the Birkie Brand while serving a practical purpose. Bags will be sold for $10 with proceeds going to the Birkie Green Fund to help purchase an electric snowmobile for the American Birkebeiner filming of the lead male and female skiers. 

Also discussed were the upcoming events including the Birkie Trail Run, our annual participation in the Birkie Expo, and the Birchleggings Club post Birkie Breakfast the Sunday after Birkie Number 49.

After the meeting, we enjoyed a zero-waste picnic and some time to socialize with ourselves and the new members who joined our gathering with an interest in getting involved. Andrew Wall spoke to the group about the upcoming Telemark Village, the new roller ski trails, a possible World Cup race in 2024 for the 50th Anniversary of the American Birkebeiner Ski Race. See YouTube Video below. 


The Birchleggings Club has big plans for the future, and we need new members and younger members to keep this rich “more than a purple bib” tradition alive and well.



Video of Annual Meeting:


Video of Andrew Wall Talk:

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