The numbers of skiers taking part in last weekend’s Birkebeiner ski race over the mountains of southeastern Norway were down by more than 6,000 from the records reported a few years ago. That’s likely to lead to financial losses for the organizers.
“I’ll be crunching the numbers over the Easter holidays, but it’s correct that they’re down from our best years,” Jo Gunnar Ellevold, leader of Birken AS, told newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN). Around 10,300 cross-country skiers took part in Saturday’s main race. In 2014, around 17,000 skied the 54-kilometer course from Rena to Lillehammer.
The numbers were also down dramatically for the shorter race on Friday and for the relay. Organizers have blamed the decline on the race falling on the Palm Sunday weekend this year, when many Norwegians have other plans at the start of a holiday week.
The decline is likely to result in a negative bottom line, although Ellevold stressed that the organization has cut costs and will continue to do so. Interest in long-distance competitive skiing remains high. Registration for Sweden’s much bigger and longer Vasaloppet sold out in just four minutes earlier this week.