Canadian Birkebeiner Ski Festival returns with ideal weather
More than 1,000 cross-country skiers participated this year in the races east of Edmonton
After being cancelled last year due to a lack of snow, the Canadian Birkebeiner Ski Festival races made a comeback on Saturday.
More than 1,000 cross-country skiers participated this year, in races spanning from 2.5 to 55 kilometres.
The event was held in the Cooking Lake - Blackfoot Provincial Recreation Area, The Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village and Elk Island National Park.
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This is the 28th year the race has been held east of Edmonton.
Event Coordinator Allen Jacobson said Mother Nature was on their side this year, with temperatures Saturday hovering just above 0 degrees.
"We were a little worried a couple of weeks ago when we had the warm spell," Jacobson said.
"But the last couple of weeks, it's been fantastic. We had some fresh snow and some cold temperatures. That allowed the crew to do a lot of snow harvesting and work the trails to make them the best possible."
Only one race was cancelled this year — the snow just wasn't quite good enough for the fast-paced 29-kilometer skate ski, Jacobson said.
Jacobson said they only made the call just over a week ago that the other races would be held, after registration numbers shot up.
"I think about a week out we were at 550 [people], but in the last five days it spiked by 500," Jacobson said.
"People were waiting, and they saw that it was on and it wasn't too hot, or too cold."