New Year Round Birchleggings Club Activities Posted! Also see Birchlegger Stories...

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Birchleggings Club Mosquito Brook Hut Receives New Exterior Stain!


A huge thanks to Birchleggings Board Member, Connie Meek, for staining the exterior of the Birchlegging Club Mosquito Brook Hut this October! Great job Connie, and the hut has never looked better and ready for the American Birkebeiner in February 2022!

Friday, October 1, 2021

Birchleggings Club Annual Meeting and New Board Members!

The Annual Meeting of the Birchleggings Club was held at the Birchleggings Mosquito Brook Warming Hut on September 24, 2021, on the Birkie Trail. Before the Meeting Jim Tenorio, with help from Steve Carmazon, Edward Eroe, and Paul Thompson installed three sets of cross country skis in the ceiling and wall. Two of the pairs of skis were from our deceased board member Cheryl Hiltibran to honor her memory. The third pair was from current board member Paul Thompson, in honor of his recent 40th Birkie. Also, before the meeting started, much admiration and appreciation was extended to board member Connie Meek, for her incredible solo progress in staining the exterior walls of the hut a beautiful light blue again. Thank you, Connie!

Those present were President Gale Otterholt, newly elected Vice President James Tenorio, Webmaster & Social Media Coordinator Edward Eroe, Secretary Steve Carmazon, Connie Meek, and Paul Thompson. Missing was newly elected board member Ralph Bovard. Treasurer Dave Balsiger, and newly appointed replacement for the last year of Cheryl Hiltibran tenure, was Bob Britz, both of whom attended virtually.
Special guests were Birchleggings Club Founder John Kotar, and American Birkebeiner Foundation COO Joe Vadeboncoeur and Development Director Andrew Wall.

The discussion with Joe and Andrew was centered around a Trademark Licensing Agreement between the American Birkebeiner Foundation and the Birchleggings Club spelling out the use of the American Birkebeiner name on the Birchlegger Awards and other duties and responsibilities of both parties. After much discussion the document was formally signed by Joe on behalf of the American Birkebeiner Foundation and Gale on behalf of the Birchleggings Club. Joe and Andrew also updated some initiatives of the Foundation. They include Telemark Development, extending the Birkie Brand for Ski, Bike, Run, and Live, the Birkie One initiative around equity, diversity, inclusivity, gender, race, and underserved populations, Birkie Green initiatives including new Birkie Bibs made of recycled plastic bottles and new solar arrays.
The recent Birchleggings Club Board of Directors election was officially announced, as well as a special appointment to the board, which has resulted in a change of membership on the board. Per the bylaws of the club, one third of the nine directors are elected each year. This year, re-elected to the board were two incumbent board members - Jim Tenoria and Gale Otterhold, and also a non-incumbent member - Ralph Bovard. Ralph is a veteran of 24 Birkies and was our first lifetime member. A big thanks to Tom Rowley, who is leaving the board after having served as a board member, and vice president, since 2013. In a special appointment, Bob Britz will join the board left vacant by the passing of Cheryl Hiltebran last March. Cheryl was first elected in 2019.


Friday, September 3, 2021

Birchleggers at Becker Law Link Bridge Dedication on August 14, 2021


Birchleggers Dave Balsiger, Paul Thompson, and Steve Carmazon attended the new Becker Law Link Bridge Dedication and ribbon cutting on August 14, 2021. Dave, Paul, and Steve are pictured at the Capstone Rock that has the Birchleggings Club Name on it as a contributor. The new bridge over Highway 77 is in the background.

It was reported by Ben Popp, the American Birkebeiner Foundation Executive Director, that over one hundred people were in attendance for not only the ribbon cutting but also to hear the vision for the Mt. Telemark Village and Nordic Center and for the foundation's annual meeting in the Great Hall at the American Birkebeiner start area.

The Celebration of Cheryl Hiltibran's Life held on July 11, 2021 in Maple Plain, Minnesota

On Sunday July 11th friends and family of Cheryl Hiltibran, Birchleggings Club board member, gathered at a gazebo at Baker Park in Maple Plain, Minnesota to remember Cheryl and celebrate her life. 

Steve Carmazon and Paul Thompson, Birchleggings Club board members, attended. Cheryl’s magical Birkie Bib quilt was prominently displayed in addition to remembrances from ski trips, race suits and other paraphernalia. Cheryl’s life was so much more. She was deeply involved in a women’s writing and healing group and enjoyed many adventures into the North American wilderness in her solo canoe. We learn so much about people after they are gone.

Paul reported that he was left with a desire to learn more about this Cheryl and had the chance to chat with Stacy Laufer her step daughter and meet her neighbor Julie while picking up her skis to display on the ceiling of our Mosquito Brook Hut on the Birkie trail. Cheryl contributed so much to our board in the short time she was with us. My learning from her leaving is that we all have the opportunity  to learn and appreciate the stories and the people of our special community of lifelong skiers. Long live Cheryl’s memory.

Thank you to Paul for providing these photographs and these words.

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Congratulations to the Founder of the Birchleggings Club, John Kotar who was named as the UW-Stevens Point College of Natural Resources’ Conservation Leader!


John Kotar of Eau Claire was named the UW-Stevens Point College of Natural Resources’ Conservation Leader for supporting the college and conservation practices.

Kotar, an emeritus professor of the Department of Forest Ecology and Management at UW-Madison, owns Terra Silva Forest Ecology and Management in Eau Claire.

Kotar has spent much of his career specializing in the classification of forest vegetation into habitat types based on relationships between soils, the environment, and groupings of understory plant species.

This classification system allows natural resource professionals to make management decisions without resorting to complex, long-term studies.

As his process of “habitat typing” is a staple of the college’s Summer Field Experience, Kotar has equipped countless UW-Stevens Point students through the years with this ecologically-based tool used in sustainable management.

This story was published in the Around Town Briefs in the Leader-Telegram newspaper from Eau Claire, Wisconsin on July 31, 2021. The story was by Dan Holtz.

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!

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