Submitted by Gloria Breuer
Members of the Breuer family pose for a picture during the American Birkebeiner weekend on Feb. 25. They are, from left, Kurt, Rachel, Marlise Vontlaene and Erik Breuer.
Submitted by Gloria Breuer

Members of the Breuer family pose for a picture during the American Birkebeiner weekend on Feb. 25. They are, from left, Kurt, Rachel, Marlise Vontlaene and Erik Breuer.

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HAYWARD, Wis. — Over 13,000 skiers from 23 countries and 49 states gathered in Hayward, Wisconsin, to participate in the 45th Annual Slumberland American Birkebeiner races, and a few of the contestants have ties with the Tri-Cities.

The Birkie events began on Feb. 21 and ended with the awards ceremony on Feb. 24. Akeo Maifeld-Carucci of Craftsbury Common, Vermont, just narrowly beat out Brian Gregg of Minneapolis, and Matt Liebsch of Orono, Minnesota, to claim first place in the men’s 50-kilometer race. Maifeld-Carucci crossed the finish line in 2 hours, 12 minutes, 34 seconds, just one second ahead of Gregg and nine seconds ahead of Liebsch. In the women’s 50K, Alayna Sonnesyn of S. Londonderry, Vermont, crossed the finish line nearly a minute ahead of the nearest competitor with a time of 2:34:00.

Once again, the Breuer family of Marinette competed in the 55K Birkebeiner Classic race. Erik Breuer, 22, finished the race with a time of 4:15:12.0. His sister Rebecca, 28, of Robbinsdale, Minnesota, finished in 5:20:36.0. Their sister, Rachel, 25, of Culver City, California, ended the race with a time of 5:40:31.0 and their father, Kurt, 62, of Marinette, finished in 5:30:37.1.

Erik placed 356th overall; Rebecca was 926th; Kurt came in at 1033rd and Rachel took 1,142nd.

Joining the Breuer family in the 55K Classic race were brothers Richie Erickson of La Crosse, Wisconsin, and Robbie Erickson of Robbinsdale, Minnesota. Richie, 35, finished in 5:47:43.6 while Robbie finished in 4:34:25.5. Robbie placed 502nd and Richie came in 1,206th.

Kurt Aschim of Marinette competed in the men 60-64 division and finished in 5:27:52.8; good for 1,014th place.

Peshtigo’s Kim Barrette, 64, skied in the 29K Kortelopet Skate race along with his daughter, Brittany, 28. Kim finished in 1:53:07.1, beating his time last year by a full six minutes and placing 225th. Brittany, who last year competed in the 12K Prince Haakon race, finished the Kortelopet in 2:45:25.6 for a 484th place finish.

Ken Losinski of Menominee took part in the 15K Prince Haakon race and finished in 2:15:44.7 for 153rd place.

Other events included in “Birkie Week” was the Birkie Giant Ski, the Barkie Birkie Skijor race for skiers with their dog, a sit-ski race for visually impaired or standing adaptive skiers, and the Barnebirkie race for youths.

The Birkebeiner, with all events and skiers included, makes up the largest ski race in North America. Everything is made possible by the over 3,000 volunteers in addition to all of the full-time Birkie staff. Kurt Breuer said of the race and the weekend, “the festive atmosphere of the race is enhanced by the many spectators along the course, some of whom dressed in costumes. There was a SpongeBob, a chicken and many people cheering along the way for skiers.”

So, not only is the Slumberland Birkebeiner ski race a hit for the skiers every year, it’s also a place to go get away and enjoy the outdoors for a weekend.