FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Electric Snowmobile to Lead American Birkebeiner in 2024
Hayward, Wis. (August 2, 2023) – The Birchleggings Club of the American Birkebeiner has generously donated a Taiga Nomad electric snowmobile to the American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation (ABSF/Birkie). The snowmobile will be used to film the live stream of their flagship event, the American Birkebeiner, and to conduct regular trail maintenance on over 100 km of ski trails. The Birchleggings Club is a non-profit organization, and close partner of ABSF, whose members have completed 20 or more American Birkebeiners in their ski career.
On Tuesday, August 8, 2023, members of the Birchleggings Club traveled from northern Wisconsin to Central Vermont Motorcycles in Rutland, Vt. to pick up the Taiga Nomad. Taiga, a Canadian company, has taken a novel engineering approach to pave the way for electric technology. Their vision is to completely transform the power sports sector by introducing groundbreaking electric off-road vehicles, ensuring sustainability without compromising on performance. This vision is in alignment not only with goals of the Birchleggings Club but with the Birkie Green initiative that has taken on by the ABSF in recent years.
One of the drivers arriving to pick up the machine is Paul Thompson, president of the Birchleggings Club. Thompson organized the fund-raising efforts and purchase of the machine in support of the ABSF’s Birkie Green initiative.
“Like many snow sports industries, the Birkie is not immune to the effects of warmer winters. In 2017 they had to cancel the event due to lack of snow – the second time in less than 20 years. Acknowledging its own carbon footprint, ABSF is moving towards being a good environmental steward and in support of their efforts, our Birchleggings Club organized a fundraiser selling shopping bags made from recycled race bibs,” said Thompson. “In addition to removing race bibs from the waste stream, we raised enough money to purchase and donate the Taiga Nomad snowmobile in commemoration of ABSF’s 50th anniversary”.
Their efforts got a boost from Olympic cross-country skiing gold medalist, World Champion, and Board Member of Protect Our Winters Jessie Diggins, who trains at Stratton Mountain, VT. Diggins offered to lend her support by autographing multiple recycled bibs that were auctioned off at different Birkie and Birchlegging Club events. When asked about her reasons for supporting the ski industry going green, she said,
“In preparing for the first cross country World Cup to be held in the US in over 20 years, the Taiga Nomad snowmobile can send a message to the ski world that we need to cut our carbon emissions as quickly as possible.”
In addition to serving as President of the Birchleggings Club, Paul Thompson, is an active member of the environmental advocacy group Citizens’ Climate Lobby (CCL), and has seen the effects of shrinking snowpack and warmer winters on his favorite sport, cross country skiing. He believes the shift to an all-electric snowmobile for covering the Birkie and performing trail maintenance is a clear signal of growing awareness by the skiing and snowmobile industry. It signals the recognition of the damage being done from a warming climate on peoples’ health, winter sports, and the Earth.
“The urgency of rising temperatures and CO2 levels and the need for systemic solutions are the reasons I work with Citizens’ Climate Lobby. In addition to switching consumers to electric alternatives, we lobby for Federal legislation that will drop CO2 levels quickly, using a market-driven, bi-partisan solution. Last month over 1,000 CCL members met with their respective members of congress in D.C. to advocate for action on climate change. We want to do our part so the Birkie and other beloved winter sports can survive the next 50 years and provide the fun and competition we have enjoyed for generations of skiers to come,” Thompson said.
Each February, ABSF hosts the largest cross-country ski race in North America, the American Birkebeiner, a 50-55 kilometer ski race that starts in Cable, Wis. and finishes on snow-covered Main Street in downtown Hayward, Wis. Throughout the week, over 12,000 skiers participate in a variety of ski events, from kids races and skijoring events, to the culmination of events with the ski marathon. In 2024, the organization will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the event. The introduction of the first electric snowmobile to their fleet is one way the organization hopes to do their part to secure the future of the race.
Ben Popp, ABSF Executive Director, said, “We’re excited and grateful to the Birchleggings Club for making an electric snowmobile a reality for our organization. We are constantly evaluating how we can reduce our carbon footprint, and access to electric off-road vehicles will contribute significantly to this effort.” ABSF has multiple solar arrays on its properties, in addition to two EV charging stations. Their newest development, Mt. Telemark Village, in Cable, Wis. will also boast a solar array capable of powering the entire property, including charging stations. “We are taking the necessary steps to ensure that future generations will be able to experience the life-changing power of connecting with each other in nature. We acknowledge the need to evolve as an organization to make this a reality and we are committed to continuing our Birkie Green initiatives to reduce our carbon emissions, increase our reliance on renewable energy, and construct sustainable structures.”
The Birchleggings Club and American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation are proud to continue their longstanding tradition of partnering to ensure the future of the American Birkebeiner. Learn more about their respective organizations online at www.birchleggings.com and www.birkie.com.
Photo credit: © Taiga Motors
Elite women’s skiers depart from the start of the 2023 American Birkebeiner behind a gas-fueled snowmobile, which will be replaced by the Taiga Nomad in 2024.
Photo credit: © American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation®
American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation, Marketing Director
Birchleggings Club, President
Citizens’ Climate Lobby Co-Leader