My First Taste of the Canadian Birkebeiner
Our camera club had an outing at the Canadian Birkebeiner, Canada’s largest classic cross-country ski event on Saturday. The day started at 8:45 a.m. at the Ukrainian Cultural Village an hour’s drive east of Edmonton, AB. and the moment I drove through the front gates of theVillage the excitement was infectious.
The people here have obviously built a community in this organization of skiers who hold this 55 km race in celebration of a journey taken in 1206 during the civil war. Two birkebeiner warriors rescued the infant, Haakon Hakonsson, heir to the throne of Norway, and skied over two mountain ranges and 55km to save his life.
There are a few races: the 55km with the 5.5 kg pack, the Birkie lite without a pack, 31 km Journal Tour, and the 2.2 and 4 km Ole’s Tour at Waskehegan Staging area.Skiers who race the 55 km tour carry a 5.5 kg pack on their backs to represent the baby.
We were given photo armbands and volunteer bibs and I thoroughly enjoyed five hours of shooting photos of the skiers. I spent my time at the start gate in the Ukranian village and and the check point at km 33 at Islet lake in the Blackfoot Cooking Lake Recreational area. I kept warm by moving around alot and getting various points of view.It was about minus 20 celsius and warmed to just a few degrees below zero, but with a breeze.There was so much support for everyone and as a volunteer I received many “thank-yous” and broad smiles from the skiers as well as other volunteers. I would love to go back to do a photo shoot here and maybe participate in one of the Ole’s tours…got to start somewhere.
I will send some of my photos to the pro photographer who will make a video and put it on the website. Hopefully this is a way I can give back to this group of people who exhibited such a courageous spirit and warm hospitality. Enjoy the photos.