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Return of the Canadian Birkebeiner Ski Festival sees good conditions for athletes

Click to play video 'Great conditions for 30th Birkebeiner Ski Festival.' Great conditions for 30th Birkebeiner Ski Festival.
WATCH ABOVE: After having to cancel due to extreme cold last year, the Birkekeiner Ski Festival had great conditions for 2020. Sarah Komadina has more – Feb 8, 2020

The more than 1,100 skiers signed up for the Canadian Birkebeiner (Berkie) Ski Festival are happy the event is back again after extreme cold forced the event to cancel in 2019.

Participants came from across Canada and even the United States to participate in the various events, such as the 55-kilometre, 31-kilometre, 13-kilometre, two-kilometre and four-kilometre races.

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

According to skiers, conditions this year were great.

“Everybody was very antsy. Last year was cancelled and it was absolutely devastating for everybody, not just the organizers but the skiers and we have 500 volunteers,” Canadian Birkebeiner Society president Jim Black said.

“It was very disappointing.”

The festival has only had six cancellations since it started in 1985, according to Black — four because there wasn’t enough snow and two because of frigid temperatures.

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“So this is the 30th year we’re actually running it,” Black said. “We’re just so happy we are able to do it this year.”

“Being outside and the fresh air, and it’s just a beautiful day,” skier Robert Hornbrooke said. “They tracks were amazing and it’s just a lot of fun.”

Hornbrooke has been coming to the Birkie for the past 23 years.

“I did the 55-kilometre 17 times and I’ve been doing the 31-kilometre since I got a little older.”

The event draws in new participants every year. Greg Kilroy from Vernon, B.C., finished first in the 55-kilometre Birkie Lite race this year.

“I raced the American Birkie, so I thought I would race the Canadian one too,” Kilroy said. “It was good, [but] it was hard.”