Birkebeiner race logs new growth

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Norway’s legendary Birkebeiner ski races last weekend could report an increase in their numbers of participants, after a few years of decline. There were rave review afterwards as well, because of the exceptionally good weather.

It was the 80th anniversary for the race over the mountains from Rena from Lillehammer, and organizers claimed it was “probably one of the best.” Blue skies and bright sunshine helped offset unusually cold temperatures, and a total of around 17,000 people took part over the course of the entire ski festival.

A total of 8,609 racers started in the main Birkebeiner race on Saturday, with Andreas Nygård of Norway becoming the first man to cross the finish line after two hours, 33 minutes and 13 seconds. He also won this year’s Vasalöppet in Sweden. Justyna Kowalczyk of Poland was the first woman to finish, after three hours, six minutes and nine seconds.

Another roughly 8,000 skiers took part in the six other Birkebeiner races, including those for children, teenagers and those racing half the 54-kilometer course. All told, the numbers were up by 14 percent, reported newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN).

Among skiers in this year’s Birkebeiner was former men’s star Petter Northug. He didn’t do very well, however, finishing 24 minutes behind winner Nygård.

newsinenglish.no staff