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Birchlegger's Birkie Stories

The Birchleggings Club is starting something new! We are asking Birchleggings Members to submit their American Birkebeiner Stories that we will post here.

We ask that stories be approximately 500 words or fewer and that you make sure your story has been edited and spell checked. Include the year of your first Birkie and the number of races you have completed. Also, with your submission, please provide a photograph of yourself.

Submit your Birkie Story and photograph to Edward Eroe, Webmaster and Social Media Coordinator, at Birchlegger@Eroe.com.




My Birkie story begins in January 1975, when, from the 17th, to the 20th, after a big snowstorm, my friends Tim Swanson, Bernie Toivonen, and I skied the 106-mile Luce Line railroad trail, from Gluek, Minnesota, it's western terminus, to Plymouth, Minnesota, being the first people to do such a continuous trek. Shortly thereafter, we heard of a meeting at the Minneapolis Public Library, about a two-year-old 50km ski race, called the Norwegian-American Birkebeiner, up in Hayward, Wisconsin.                             

We thought that we would try it, as we had just skied 106 miles, so how hard could 50km be? I don't remember that the three of us actually skied together, but we all finished. While skiing that day, I met two twin skiers, both wearing green Edina High School knicker suits. I joked that either I was seeing double, or they were indeed twins! They said that they were Joel and Jon Malkerson, from Edina, Minnesota, and we exchanged phone numbers. Over many years I was fortunate to stay with them in the home they had in Cable, and then on Lake Hayward. Through them, I met Bob Britz, and Warren Lacourse, who, through a friend of theirs, knew the Malkerson's, who had room for them to stay for many more years of Birkies. Because of the Malkerson's, I met many of their ski friends, one of whom is Charlie Munich, who was recently a three-term Hayward Mayor, and the only Hayward Mayor ever to ski a Birkie. Charlie very generously allows me to stay with him after the Malkerson's moved to Venice, Florida. Both Jon and Charlie graciously classic-skied with me on my 40th Birkie!

 

Overall, my biggest impression of the Birkie, is the enormous number of people I've met, that have become longtime friends because of XC Skiing and the Birkie in particular. I never would have known them otherwise. I count at least six ski-shop owners, many past and present ABSF Board members, and all the past and present board members of The Birchleggings Club, as well as many Birchleggers, past and present, among those friends. It's really all about the relationships you establish along the way, so learn to cherish them!

 

Steve Carmazon, Birchleggings Club Board Member - February 2024

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