Canadian Birkebeiner Ski Festival forced to cancel 2019 event due to extreme cold

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Canadian Birkebeiner forced to cancel 2019 event due to extreme cold
WATCH ABOVE: The Canadian Birkebeiner Ski Festival has been cancelled due to the extreme cold. President Dave Cooper and marketing director Laura McIlveen share more on the weather woes – Feb 6, 2019

Too hot, too cold: when it comes to the Canadian Birkebeiner Ski Festival, Mother Nature has a tendency to make things difficult — and 2019 is no exception.

In a news release Tuesday afternoon, the president of the event said the long-range forecasts predict temperatures on Saturday at Elk Island National Park won’t be above its -25 C cutoff.

“To say we are all disappointed would be an understatement,” Dave Cooper said. “We are crushed.”

He explained that in its 35-year history, the Canadian Birkie Ski Festival (CBS) has only been cancelled six times (2019 included).

In 2016, the Birkie was cancelled due to low amounts of snow and icy trails. In 2017, it was almost cancelled again because of weather conditions.

READ MORE: Warm winter weather forces the cancellation of the Canadian Birkebeiner

Finally, 2018 brought “perfect” conditions thanks to a late snowfall and an ideal temperature of about -10 C. But the weather is swinging in a decidedly different direction this year.

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Alberta is expected to remain in the grips of a deep freeze through next week.

“To the over 1,000 registered skiers and over 500 volunteers, we can only say Mother Nature is dealing us a hand that we can’t beat,” Cooper said.

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WATCH BELOW: It was a tumultuous last couple years for the Canadian Birkebeiner, but as Julia Wong reports, the weather was on the event’s side in 2018.

Click to play video: 'Berkie 2018'
Berkie 2018

Temperatures are expected to be a couple of degrees warmer on Sunday.

The kids’ ski events are postponed to Sunday at William Hawrelak Park in Edmonton.

The Birkebeiner says it does not cancel unless it is extremely cold — generally below -25 C — although there are variances for wind speed and direction, sunshine and projected warming through the day.

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“We explored every option to keep our skiers and volunteers safe, including shorter trials, more staff on the trails, later start times and additional information about recognizing frostbite and hypothermia. But with the balance – and temperatures – tipping into the truly dangerous zone, the only decision is to cancel the adult ski events,” the Tuesday news release said.

READ MORE: Edmontonians deal with freezing temperatures as city sits under extreme cold warning

Photo from a previous Canadian Birkebeiner Ski Festival. Credit: Canadian Birkebeiner Ski Festival (Facebook)

The CBS has a no-refund policy but anyone who signed up using Secure Your Spot early signup and event guarantee policy will be entered in the same ski event for the 2020 CBS at no additional cost.

Anyone who did not use Secure Your Spot is invited to ski one of two remaining Full Moon Birkie moonlight ski events.

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READ MORE: Canadian prairies colder than North Pole, almost as cold as Mars

The Vikings’ Feast will still go ahead on Saturday evening.

Friday’s Opening Ceremonies and Nordic Fair were cancelled.

READ MORE: The three phases of frostbite – from red skin to black skin death

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