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Birkie racer at library

Brian Nischke

The Sturm Memorial Library will host Brian Nischke, an American Birkebeiner racer, at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 21.

Nischke has been racing in the Birkebeiner, or the “Birkie” as it is also called, in northern Wisconsin for several years.

The American Birkebeiner is the largest and the second longest cross country race in the United States.

More 10,000 skiers from throughout the world participate in the race that spans 34 miles from Cable to Hayward.

This year’s event will take place on Saturday, Feb. 23, a few days after Nischke’s presentation.

The Birkie was started in 1973 by the late Tony Wise, owner of the Telemark Resort in Cable, who looked to his Norwegian heritage and patterned the ski marathon after the Birkebeiner Rennet, which had been held in Norway since 1932.

Both events honor and re-create a historic Norwegian event when in 1206, two warriors, called “Birkebeiners” because of the birch-bark leggings they wore, skied infant Prince Haakon to safety during the Norwegian civil war.

Prince Haakon subsequently became king of Norway, and the Birkebeiner soldiers became a Norwegian symbol of courage, perseverance and character in the face of adversity.

Wise was an ardent promoter of cross country skiing, and the ski race soon became a premier event with worldwide recognition.

Nischke will share facts about the Norwegian roots of the American Birkebeiner and share stories of his experiences as a competitor in the event.

Following the presentation, hot chocolate and lefse will be served.

People may receive more information by calling the library at 920-596-2252 or visiting www.manawalibrary.org.

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