The Birchleggings Club Lists have all been Updated!

Saturday, April 10, 2021

Cheryl Hiltibran First Woman to Ski 40 American Birkebeiner Ski Races Passed Away on March 21, 2021

Cheryl Hiltibran

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our friend and fellow board member, Cheryl Hiltibran on March 21, 2021, after a several years battle with cancer. In 1997 Cheryl first achieved Birchlegger status, finishing her 20th American Birkebeiner that year. She eventually completed 41 Birkies being the first woman to reach the 40-race mark. Cheryl also skied in a number of other World Loppet events. 

Cheryl joined the Board of Directors of our Birchleggings Club in 2019 bringing along her cheerful enthusiasm as well as her innovative thinking. The highly successful membership drive this past winter and the setting of credit card payment ability for our club were two major accomplishments led by Cheryl. 

Cheryl will be greatly missed by the Birchleggings Board, Birchleggings Club members, the American Birkebeiner, and the greater cross country ski community.

The picture is of Cheryl at the Birchleggings Club Booth at the 2020 Birkie Expo in Hayward, Wisconsin where she unveiled the quilt she made with past American Birkebeiner ski race bibs.

Monday, February 15, 2021

Birchlegger Brad Peterson has Suffered a Serious Stroke

Many of you may know Brad Peterson as a very accomplished and humble Nordic Skier. He joined the Birkebeiner family in the 2nd year of the race in 1974 and has completed 45 Birkies, most recently as a Birkie Ambassador. He and his wife Susan met through x-c ski racing and have competed at the highest level in many World Master’s Nordic events. They often traveled to these events with other Twin Cities legends including Bjorn Lasserud, Dick Hedenstrom and Ahvo Taipale. Brad on the left is pictured with Ernie St. Germaine and John Kotar.

Brad suffered a major Cerebral Vascular Accident (CVA, stroke) on September 27, 2020. He spent 3 weeks in the Neuro-Intensive Care unit at Regions Hospital and 7 weeks at Regency Hospital after his CVA. Initially, he was on a ventilator and later was transitioned to a tracheostomy and feeding tube when he stabilized and needed these important support modalities.

His wife Susan Rockwood, and three sons (Matt, Alex and Ford) decided that Brad would be happier and safer from COVID-19 if they could get him back to their farm north of Stillwater, MN. On December 4, 2020, Brad came home with 24 hours per day of nursing care. His medical condition is now relatively stable but fragile. Brad recognizes family and is aware of his surroundings and at peace, even though he is unable to communicate verbally. The right side of his body is paralyzed and he needs substantial help with any movement. He is making very gradual improvements in awareness and non-verbal communication, but remains dependent on a feeding tube and still has a tracheostomy.

Susan and his sons are very glad to have him at home where he can be comfortable and with people that love him. Of course, COVID-19 has made this situation even more challenging with restrictions on visitors and volunteer support. Fortunately, Susan has been able to find excellent nursing support which is in very high demand during the COVID-19 pandemic. The cost of his nursing support is twenty thousand dollars per month and is not covered by his Medicare or supplement insurance.

Brad's family is asking his many friends to please help defray expenses. At this time, it is uncertain how long this level of support will be necessary, but it could be needed for many months or longer. If you would like to help Brad, his family has setup a Go Fund Me Site.

Our thoughts and prayers are with Brad and his family.

Friday, January 29, 2021

Stop by the Birchleggings Club Booth at the Birkie Virtual Expo - February 4-5, 2021

Stop by the Birchleggings Club Booth during the Birkie Virtual Expo on February 4th and 5th from 09:00am until 05:00pm both days! Get information about the club and chat with Birchleggings Club Board Members. The Birkie Virtual Expo can be found at this link American Birkebeiner Virtual Expo!

Monday, December 7, 2020

The American Birkebeiner Capstone Monument has been completed!


The American Birkebeiner Capstone Monument has been completed. This project “caps” the final Birkie Trail bridge projects, connecting the Birkie Trail on the north and south sides of Highway 77 and improving access to the World Class Birkebeiner Trail for all.


The Birchleggings Club made a donation to this important project and you can see the club's name listed on the photograph.



Two boulders have been completed and the other has five donors names on it. Five more names will be added as they donate. For more information go to this link:

The best way to see the Birkebeiner Capstone Monument is to take highway 77 east of Hayward to Fish Hatchery Road then take Birken Road and park on the north side of the new Becker Law Link Bridge.

Thursday, December 3, 2020

The American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation seeks your input on plans for the Telemark Lodge property.

The American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation seeks your input on plans for the Telemark Lodge property.

The survey is available December 1-14, 2020 and is open to anyone interested in participating.

Please go to this link to watch a video and take the survey!

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

The Birchleggings Bell Dedicated and Rings for the First Time!

The Birchleggings Club Bell Dedicated and Rings for the First Time

Final Installation

On Friday September 25,2020 the Birchleggings Club Bell was officially dedicated into service. Final steps of the installation happened early in the afternoon.The bell is located about 500 meters west of the Birkebeiner starting line where the classic and the skating trails split.The plaque and bell were installed by Dick Enz, Steve Carmazon, and Jim Tenorio. It was fitting that the bell was made operational by Dick and Steve as Dick brought the idea of the bell to the Birchleggings Club Board of Directors, and Steve selected the quote from Tony Wise that appears on the plaque.

Dedication Celebration 

Later that afternoon in a joyful dedication ceremony, John Kotar, one of the original Birkebeiner Founders and the co-creator of the Birchleggings Club gave the bell its first official ring. Approximately 25 Birchleggers, hikers, bikers, neighbors along the trail and friends of Biechleggers attended the bell-dedication ceremony. Board member Paul Thompson officiated.

Genesis of the Bell

Dick Enz opened the proceedings by giving the background of the bell. Dick’s idea for a Birkie bell was inspired by the memorial bell at the Northwood Ski Trails near Rhinelander, Wisconsin. The bell in Rhinelander is a memorial to the late Wayne Fish, a 33-year Birchlegger, who was a model and inspiration for young Nordic skiers in the area. The Birchleggings Club expanded the purpose of the Birchleggings Club Bell to include and honor those persons, past and present, who made, and continue to make the race and the trail world-class attractions.

Making the Bell a Reality

Jim Tenorio, project coordinator, recapped the planning and fabrication and installation of the bell. The entire process from proposal to completion took over a year and a half. The initial idea for a bell was brought to the Birchleggings Club Board in January of 2019. It was accepted as a working project immediately and enthusiastically. A bell was donated near the end of the summer 2019. Design and planning for the post happened during the fall and winter of 2019-20. The post was fabricated during the spring of 2010. It was transported from Menomonie and Eau Claire up to Cable on May 21, 2020 and installation of the bell post took place on August 4 and August 7, 2020.

So Many Persons to Thank

Jim recognized the many people who made the bell possible. Heading up the list was Ben Popp, American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation Executive Director. From the instant the Birchleggings Club asked about the possibility of a bell on the trail to the final bell- dedication event, Ben was behind the project 100%. He enthusiastically supported the concept, the design, the location of the bell, and provided the Birkie Trail Maintenance Crew to us for the heavy earth-moving tasks. Kurt Proctor and his trail crew cleared trees, graded the site, excavated the hole, and did the final grading and landscaping.

A subcommittee of the Birchleggings Club Board spearheaded the project. Dick Enz, Willie Gorham, Gale Otterholt, and Jim Tenorio met and finalized the many details.

Seventeen donors provided the majority of the funds for fabrication and installation of the bell. They are recognized on the plaque that is attached to the bell post. The balance of the costs were paid by the Birchleggings Club.

Birchleggings Club Bell Donors

Richard A. Bates
Brian Birschbach
Dick & Mary Enz
Edward R. Eroe
Willie & Marilyn Gorham

Barb Gorman

Ralph Hansen Hendrix

Cheryl Hiltibran
Connie Meek

Gale R. Otterholt
Dr. Pamela M. Peterson
Toni Popp
Jim Rauchle
Tom & Judy Rowley
Einar Sandom
Jim & Deb Tenorio
Paul Eklund Thompson
Paul Tenorio donated the bell

The actual installation was done by Birchleggings Club members. Crews on four different work days helped

  • Unload the bell when it arrived at the trail 
  • Pour the concrete footing to support the bell post 
  • Raise the post and pour the concrete to hold it in place 
  • Install the plaque and pull rope
  • Birchleggings Club Volunteer Workers

    Jim Anderson
    Steve Carmazon

    Joan Cervenka
    Dick Enz
    Pete Huot
    Harry Maranowicz

    Connie Meek

    Gale Otterholt

    Jan Otterholt

    Tom Rowley

    Allison Slavick

    Scott Smith

    Jim Tenorio

    Gold-Level recognition goes to Connie Meek and Jim Anderson for participating in all three main work sessions. Platinum-Level members are Connie Meek and Tom Rowley for attending multiple work days and providing extra days of assistance and materials beyond the three scheduled work sessions.

Rung Into Service 

The highlight of the dedication was the first official ringing of the bell. Before the first ring, John Kotar remembered some of the original Birkie Founders who have passed away and reminded the crowd how the bell will ring on into the future to honor those who were and will continue to be a wonderful influence on the Birkie and the Birkie Trail. Even though everyone was safely masked to combat the current COVID-19 pandemic, big smiles were evident when John sounded the bell officially for the first time. Following the ceremony, the hills rang alive as each of the attendees took a turn at the bell rope.

The Birchleggings Bell will bring many, many years of enjoyment to trail users and be a lasting reminder of the Birkie’s rich history and lasting legacy.


Birchleggings Club Bell Facts


Donated by Paul Tenorio
Made by C.S. Bell Company, Hillsboro, Ohio Date of bell: Most likely produced after 1894.

#4 Size
Width of bell: 20” diameter
Width of yoke: 27”
Height with yoke: 16”
Weight of bell with yoke: 86 lbs.

Bell Post:

Fabricated by Justin Geisking of Arclight Welding, Menomonie, WI Painted by Eclipse Powder Coating, Eau Claire, WI
Total length of post: 12 feet
Height above ground: 8 feet

Length of arm: 4 feet
Total post weight with bell: 300 pounds
800 pounds of concrete used to set the post

Bronze Plaque:

Obtained through Apple Awards, Hayward WI Weight of plaque: 26 pound


The bell is located about 500 meters west of the Birkebeiner starting line where the classic and the skating trails split.


Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Become a U.S. Ski & Snowboard Official

Hello fellow Birchleggers. This is Bob Aldrich. I’d like to invite you to think about becoming an Official for U.S. Ski and Snowboard. Why?? Well, have proven that you know how to negotiate a challenging ski course. You know what to expect when you begin a race, whether it is a local citizen race, or something as complex as the Birkie. This is open to men and women, and as more women participate in Cross Country (and win gold medals at the Olympics), it would be good to have more women Officials.

I started many years ago volunteering for U.S. events, attended some seminars, and began studying the rule book. I became an Official in 1992, and have attended many races in many capacities. The more one experiences different conditions, and formats, the more jobs you will be given. Setting V board, marking courses, monitoring course safety, setting fencing, moving other equipment, are a few types of jobs that must be done. As an Official, you would start by working a number of races, with other Officials, and under supervision of the Technical Delegate (TD). “Working”, involves all the setup and takedown of the stadium area, start/finish zones, helping to haul equipment, helping run a particular area of the race such as the start line, or finish line, perhaps being a course controller, and generally, helping to insure a race meets the standards for a sanctioned event.

A sanctioned event is one that meets U.S. and sometimes International standards and rules, so that points may be awarded to those athletes who are registered with U.S. Ski and Snowboard. If an athlete wants to pursue points toward making the U.S. Ski Team, they must ski in sanctioned races.

If you like working outside in the winter, with dedicated people and being around those that “make races happen”, consider the path into becoming an Official.

Here is a link to U.S. Ski and Snowboard Cross Country Officials page.

If you’d like more information, and to know who to contact in your area, please email me at:, or Scott Wilson at: Scott is the Central Division “go-to” guy.

I wish you a healthy, successful season...just ahead!! THINK SNOW!!


Monday, August 10, 2020

Birchleggings Bell is Installed!

The Birchleggings Bell was installed on August 7, 2020 where the Classic Trail and Skate Trail split after the Start Area. See the Birchleggings Club Facebook Photo Album for pictures of the volunteers that put this incredible addition to the Birkie Trail in place! Special thanks to Jim Tenorio who took the idea suggested by Dick Enz who was inspired by the memorial bell at the Northwood Ski Trails near Rhinelander, Wisconsin and then carried it through to approval, funding, and implementation.

This bell is another way that the members of the Birchleggings Club are helping to make the American Birkebeiner a memorable experience for everyone!

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