Birkebeiner unveils newest additions, awards 85-year-old skier 3 - KBJR 6 Your Weather Authority: News, Weather & Sports

Birkebeiner unveils newest additions, awards 85-year-old skier 30th Worldloppet Master title

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The American Birkebeiner is the fourth largest ski race in the world, and on Sunday skiers got a look at some significant upgrades to the trail at the BirkeTour 2017. 

More than 13,000 skiers from 25 countries will hit the trail for the American Birkebeiner in just a month.  

"I think it inspires people to be active year round because they get excited about it. They have a great time, and they train all year to come back and do it the following year," says the race's Executive Director, Ben Popp. 

At the BirkieTour on Sunday, people were able to ski the track and check out a new feature to the course.  

"I think with the opening of the new start line here in the trail head is really a turning point for us as we continue to grow and try and reach more people to get them believing in living the lifestyle that we think is so important. Being active and being outside," Popp said. 

A living testament to that is 85 year old Hannes Larsson, who crossed the new finish line to complete his 300th race for his 30th Worldloppet Master Title.

Carol Duffy, the first Worldloppet Master, said, "he's just so incredible. Incredible. That's the only word I have."

Larsson said, "I still manage to beat some younger skiers, I have a good excuse. I have 83 years of experience."

He began skiing when he was just three years old. He is no stranger to the slopes, but Sunday was his first time out this winter.

"Many people say that this is remarkable. I don't think it's remarkable. I am just an assiduous skier," said Larsson.

His passion for the sport proves that everyone can do it.

Popp said, "I mean whether you look behind me and you see these three and four-year-olds learning to ski or somebody like Hannes who's 85 and just skied almost thirty miles. It's something that is inspiring, I think, to a lot of people."

Which he hopes will serve as a foundation to grow on at the Birkie's new home.

"The more kids that we can get active, introduce them to lifelong sports early on and they'll continue to do it and live healthy," Popp said.

Also new at this year's American Birkebeiner, skiers will be able to enjoy a nice cold specialty Brew-Ski.

The Birkebeiner has partnered with Lucette Brewery from Menomonie to create a specially crafted Birkie Brew-ski Amber Ale.

They unveiled the new brew that will be available at the ski race at the BirkieTour on Sunday.

The owner and founder of Lucette Brewing, Tim Schletty, said they started brewing the Birkie only three weeks ago and is happy with the response they've gotten from skiers.

"It's exciting to see people surprised because no one's really heard about this beer. We haven't been doing much social media with it. We haven't been doing a lot of promotion about it. It's kind of like I said a sneak peak for what's actually going to be happening during Birkie Week and moving forward in the future," said Schletty.

The American Birkebeiner kicks off Thursday, February 23. 

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