COVID-19 has forced the cancellation of a popular winter event just outside Edmonton.
The Canadian Birkebeiner Society decided Tuesday night to cancel in-person ski events for this year’s Canadian Birkebeiner Ski Festival due to COVID-19 restrictions.
“This is so hard for the skiers and the volunteers. We have worked at planning a safe event since early fall, with thousands of hours invested in designing a Birkie that would be possible with outdoor sports gatherings of up to 100 people,” Birkie president Dave Cooper said in a media release Wednesday.
“Sadly, it seems the continuing COVID-19 situation and health regulations will not allow this limit to be in place by the time the Birkie starts on Feb. 12.”
The organization will hold a virtual event this year instead. Those who were registered for the 2021 Birkie will receive free entry to the 2021 Virtual Canadian Birkie, which will be held from Feb. 12 to 21.
Those registered in this year’s event will also have their registration carried forward at no cost to the in-person Canadian Birkie Ski Festival taking place Feb. 11 to 13, 2022.
The 2021 Canadian Birkie was set to be held on two sites in the Cooking Lake – Blackfoot Provincial Recreation Area east of Edmonton. Registration was capped at 640 people, divided over four days. The 2021 event was sold out.
Participants of the 10-day virtual event can classic ski, skate ski, roller-ski, skijor, cycle, run, ice skate, snowshoe, or walk in a four-, eight-, 13-, 31- or 55-kilometre event.