About 40 people took part in the second annual Fernie Birkie hosted by the Fernie Nordic Society on Sunday. Kimberley Vlasic/The Free Press

Legend of the Birkebeiners lives on in Fernie

Fernie Nordic Society hosts second annual Fernie Birkie; looks to grow event

A cross country ski race inspired by an ancient Norwegian legend could be expanded to a community festival as organizers look to grow the event.

On Sunday, the Fernie Nordic Society hosted its second annual Fernie Birkie, a 50km classic event consisting of two laps of the loop from the Elk Valley Nordic Centre to Fernie Alpine Resort (FAR).

Organizer Sam Sedlowsky explained the race is based on the legend of the Birkebeiners, Norwegian warriors who tied birch bark around their legs to keep the snow out and protect them in battle.

According to the legend, in 1206, as civil war raged in Norway, two Birkebeiner warriors rescued the infant prince Haakon Haakonsson from hiding, carrying him on skis over 55km and two mountain ranges to safety.

In Fernie, about 40 people reenacted their journey, donning furs and horned helmets to ski 50km as individuals or in a team.

“A bunch of the racers will actually have a 12-pound backpack on them to mimic having a baby on their back, just to make it extra hard in case you didn’t think 50km was hard enough,” said Sedlowsky prior to the race.

“For our race, it’s unique, we allow teams of two to go at the same time and do 50km, so 25km each, which is much more reasonable for a lot of people.”

Going forward, the nordic society hopes to expand the Fernie Birkie and promote it further afield.

However, there will be a name change due to trademark rights owned by a similar event in Edmonton.

“Next year we’re talking about maybe making a Viking festival and having a festival as well as the ski, so another opportunity for the community to come out and experience what it was like in Nordic times,” said Sedlowsky.

She thanked local businesses who donated prizes to this year’s event, FAR for its support and the City of Fernie, which provided grant funding.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here


Just Posted

Pay guarantee removed for some Kootenay on-call paramedics

Guarantee phased out as BCEHS introduces a new “scheduled on call” model

No active confirmed COVID-19 cases in Interior Health: BCCDC

Numbers from the BCCDC’s dashboard show 193 of the 195 COVID-19 cases in the region have recovered

RDEK urges residents to be prepared for emergencies including flooding, wildfire

The East Kootenay region has been placed on a high streamflow advisory

Hosmer Fire Department sends thank you to anonymous gift donor

A handmade wooden plaque was left in front of the Hosmer firehall on May 28

Castle Project seeking public input

The comment period surrounding the expansion closes on June 23

March dental conference key to many of B.C.’s COVID-19 cases

Early infections from China, Iran were quickly contained

Regional District of Kootenay Boundary rescinds all Grand Forks-area evacuation orders

Evacuation alerts for 1,136 Boundary properties remain in effect as officials monitor forecasts

MAP: Dr. Henry reveals which B.C. regions have seen most COVID-19 cases

B.C. health officials release a first look at how the novel coronavirus has reached all corners of the province

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation woman, 26, fatally shot by police in Edmundston, N.B.

Police were conducting a well-being check at the time of the incident

Introducing the West Coast Traveller: A voyage of the mind

Top armchair travel content for Alaska, Yukon, BC, Alberta, Washington, Oregon and California!

Seniors to receive up to $500 in promised COVID-19 emergency aid in early July

The Liberal government first promised the extra help in mid-May, but had to create a new system to deliver the aid

VIDEO: Revelstoke bear wanders into Animal House pet store

Staff got ready to chase it out with a broom

Nelson counsellor works online with university students in central Asia during pandemic

Robin Higgins is home from her job in Tajikistan because of COVID-19

New study is first full list of species that only exist in Canada

Almost 40 per cent of them are critically imperilled or imperilled and eight are already extinct

Most Read