Ski the Birkebiener - Viking Fun For Everyone!

by - Thursday, January 12, 2017

Channel your inner Lagertha or Ragnar and get your loppet on! Translation: Join the epic Viking-themed Birkebiener cross country ski race! When you ski the Birkebiener, you are re-enacting the true story of winter 1206 in which baby Prince Haakon Haakonson of Norway was carried 55 km over two mountain passes to safety, by two Birkebiener warriors, during a civil war. You may ski the 55 km course with a 5.5 kg pack symbolic of the princeling, or without; and if 55 km is too long, there are shorter, less arduous courses. There is even a 2.5 km "tour" perfect for kids where you can ski alongside costumed Birkebieners! Ski the legend and don't forget your Viking helmet! While Viking attire isn't mandatory, it sure adds to the fun.

What the Heck is a Birkebiener Anyways?

The original meaning of Birkebiener is "birch bark leggers." 800 years ago, Norweigan warriors wrapped and tied birch bark around their legs as gaiters and armor. In later times - when birch bark was replaced with other materials - Birkebiener came to mean "a person strong in adversity, never daunted by trial and hardships." (Source)

Cooking Lake Provincial Park

Event Details

The Canadian Birkiebiener - aka Canadian Birkie - takes place outside Edmonton, Alberta at Cooking Lake - Blackfoot Provincial Recreation Area, the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village, and Elk Island National Park. Plan to spend two nights in Edmonton so you can attend the Nordic Fair the day before the race and post-loppet Vikings Feast (feast tickets required).

When & Where

  • February 9, 2018: Opening Ceremony, Nordic Fair and Registration Package Pick Up at Strathcona Community Centre. You MUST pick up your package on February 10!
  • February 10, 2018: Race Day & Vikings' Feast! There are different courses, starting locations, and start times based on the distance you are skiing, so please review your registration information carefully! After your ski, enjoy a buffet dinner and live entertainment at the Vikings Feast (Note that admission to the Vikings Feast is NOT included in Birkebiener registration fee. Purchase a ticket in advance here).
  • February 11, 2018: Birkie Sunday Family Event
For more information, please see Canadian Birkie Event Details.


No matter how long you've been skiing, there is a Birkebiener course for you! Recreational skiers and hard core athletes alike participate in the Birkie for the fun and personal challenge. My husband will be accompanying our kids on the Ole's Tour (2.5 km or 4 km) with costumed Birkebieners and I will be skiing Erika's Tour (31 km). We can't wait!

For your safety and enjoyment, there are drinks and snacks at the start and finish lines in addition to feeding/medical stations along the routes, spaced 8 to 10 km apart (finish line food by donation). It is recommended that you grab a drink and snack at each feeding station so you don't bonk. Mingling with your fellow skiers is a big part of the Birkie experience too! Make some new friends and support each other on the trail! Please be sure to thank the friendly volunteers - over 500 volunteers make the Birkie possible! See Canadian Birkie - Frequently Asked Questions for more info.

The terrain is rolling with lots of little hills. The finish line is slightly higher than the start, so pace yourself; the last 5 kilometres are the hardest. Courses wind through aspen forest and around small ponds.

Start the race skiing across a frozen lake!
For details and maps of each course, please see The Canadian Birkie Ski Events. Brief descriptions of each course follow:
  • 2.5 or 4 km Ole's Tour presented by E Construction  - Fun, untimed ski that kids and parents can do together alongside costumed Birkebieners! Choose your distance on race day!
  • 13 km Global Mini Birkie - This loop course is perfect for young or new nordic skiers. Be a part of the fun without overdoing it. 
  • 29 km Bergan's of Norway Skate Ski - Skate on a course just for skate skiers! Note: this is the ONLY skate ski course at the Birkie.
  • 31 km Erika's Tour - More experienced skiers may challenge themselves with this longer course that shares a lot of the 55 km route.  
  • 55 km Spencer Environmental Birkie Lite - The ultimate challenge! Times are recorded by age categories. 
  • 55 km Torskeklubben Birkebeiner with pack - Carry the Birkie Baby to safety! Fortunately you don't have to go over any mountain passes.
Which one will you sign up for?

See you there!


Register for the Canadian Birkebiener here. *Discounted pricing available until January 18!*
The Final Deadline for registering is Wednesday, February 8, 2017 at 11:59 p.m.

For More Information

Visit The Canadian Birkie Website to learn more about this epic loppet.


As an Alberta Parks Ambassador, my registration fee for the 2017 Birkebiener was waived, but all words and opinions are my own.

Don't forget your Viking attire! 

Where to Train For the Birkie

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