HAYWARD, Wis. - For just the second time in its 44 year history, the American Birkebeiner, North America's largest cross country ski race in Hayward, has been canceled.
After days of warm weather, organizers determined the shortened race course was not safe for thousands of skiers.
"Well I'm disappointed, I was really looking forward to it," said Heather Henter, a skier from San Diego planning to race in her first Birkie.
For race organizers, it was a question of safety.
"At the end of the day, we didn't feel like we could make a safe course for 10,000 people to ski on," said Ben Popp, American Birkebeiner Executive Director.
On Friday, skiers visited downtown Hayward after hearing the news, heading to the American Birkebeiner museum to socialize and buy Birkie gear. Some, like Matt Frinak from Green Bay, said they were still looking forward to Birkie weekend.
"Well it's unfortunate, it's something you definitely look forward to all year long and kind of train and get ready for, but we're still going to have a good time anyway," he said.
That good time is still happening Saturday, as race organizers have planned an all-day party at the American Birkebeiner Trailhead in Cable. This year was supposed to be the inaugural year for the Birkie's new start area, and organizers said they still plan to show it off in style.
The event will have live music and activities for both spectators and skiers. They're also planning a 6K ski loop for people to get on their skis at least once this Birkie weekend.
"Hopefully the whole community comes out," said Popp. "We want 25,000 people there, and we should have a good time."
The event begins at 9:30 a.m. Saturday and goes until the afternoon. For more information, visit the Birkie website here.