Fundraisers want $2.3 million to upgrade Birkie ski trails

January 27, 2015

CABLE Supporters of North America's largest cross country ski race want to raise $2.3 million to renovate the trails where it's held in northern Wisconsin.

The American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation has raised just over $400,000 of the $650,000 needed for the first of three phrases, the Wisconsin State Journal (http://bit.ly/1EnzFlb ) reported.

Projects in the next five years would include construction of a trail bridge in Hayward, a permanent starting area, and an outdoor recreation center in Seely, as well as erosion fixes on the trails.

The American Birkebeiner, also known as the Birkie, was founded in 1973. This week, the 107 kilometers of trails between Cable and Hayward are hosting the International Paralympic Committee Nordic Skiing World Championships.

"I love it because it's home turf," said Omar Bermejo, a former Marine who skied in the 2014 Paralympics. "The Russians have to come to our cage this time."

Other events on the trails throughout the year include the Wisconsin High School Nordic Ski Championships and mountain bike races.

The trails' Telemark Lodge has been closed since 2013 and is in disrepair. Jim Bolen, executive director of the Cable Area Chamber of Commerce, said it would likely take a buyer $20 million to $30 million to upgrade it.

The property's ski resort history dates back to the 1940s. A $6 million lodge was opened in 1972, but the resort has been closed and reopened several times since the mid-1980s.

"A rejuvenated Telemark Resort would be huge for our economy throughout the region. The potential is absolutely there," Bolen said. "Several groups have stepped forward with interest."

 

Associated Press