Ski Classics heads to Norway for Birkebeinerrennet on Saturday, March 18, 2023. The 54-kilometer-long classic race marks the twelfth stage and the fourth and final Grand Classics event of Season XIV.
Birkebeinerrennet is not the longest race in the Pro Tour, but it has one of the most demanding courses. The 54-kilometer stage starts with a long uphill section with only one relatively short downhill segment. Then, the Pro Team athletes get to appreciate the beautiful mountain scenery before reaching the second climb.
On the last part of the course, the skiers can finally enjoy the wonder of speed as they start their descent to the finish line at the Olympic stadium, located a few kilometers from Lillehammer city center.
Like Vasaloppet, Birkebeinerrennet is one of the world’s most legendary long-distance skiing races. With a long history, its legacy is based on a heroic tale of courage and adventure.
The saga dates to the harsh times of the 13th century when two fearless soldiers, birkebeiners, rescued a young prince and skied over the mountains fighting against the wild nature around them.
This young prince, Haakon, later became the King. To honor him and his rescuers, all participants at Birkebeinerrennet must carry a 3.5kg backpack symbolizing the prince’s weight.
Norwegian Atmosphere And History
The starting point of “Birken” is a small town called Rena. It has a friendly and cozy atmosphere, while Lillehammer is more city-like, with a population of almost 28.000 inhabitants. Both places can easily be accessed by train from Oslo airport. The Rena Military Camp, Norway’s largest military camp, is northeast of Rena.
Lillehammer’s center is a late nineteenth-century concentration of wooden houses, which enjoys a picturesque location overlooking the northern part of lake Mjøsa and the river Lågen, surrounded by mountains. Lillehammer is also an Olympic town, as it hosted the 1994 Winter Olympic Games and 2016 Youth Winter Olympics.
In addition to Birkebeinerrennet and other sports activities, Lillehammer and its surrounding areas have several other tourist attractions such as the Garmo Stave Church, built around 1150, the PS Skibladner, the world’s oldest paddle steamer in scheduled service, rock carvings at Drotten, Fåberg, and the sculpture Mothership with Standing Matter designed by Antony Gormley.
There are also many museums to visit, like the Norwegian Olympic Museum, Lillehammer Art Museum, and Maihaugen, the largest open-air museum in Norway.
BIRKEBEINERRENNET – Ski Classics Pro Tour – Event 12
- Date: March 18, 2023
- Distance: 54km Classic Technique
- Place: Rena-Lillehammer, Norway
- Start Time: Women 8:00 CET / Men 7:45 CET
- Number of SC Sprints: 0
- Number of SC Climbs: 2
- Climb 1: Raudfjellet
- Climb 2: Midtfjellet
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