HAYWARD, Wis. (Feb. 23, 2019) – The season-long CXC Marathon Cup series hit a high point Saturday at the Slumberland American Birkebeiner between Cable and Hayward as thousands braved yet another winter storm in the 45th running of North America’s largest cross country ski race.
In typical CXC Marathon Cup fashion this season, it was a head-to-head battle in the 50k skate between Brian Gregg (Minneapolis) and Matt Liebsch (Orono, Minn.) most of the way before Vermont’s Akeo Maifield-Carucci (Craftsbury Common, Vt.) took the win in the men’s skate race. Minnesota native Alayna Sonnesyn (S. Londonderry, Vt.) took the women’s title. It was the first CXC Marathon Cup appearance this season for both Maifield-Carucci and Sonnesyn.
In a sprint down Hayward’s snow-covered Main Street, Maifeld-Carucci edged Gregg by a mere second, winning in two hours, 12 minutes, 34 seconds. Liebsch was just nine seconds back. Just two weeks earlier in the 54k skate Mora Vasaloppet, Liebsch took the win over Gregg, who has already clinched the CXC Marathon Cup crown with one race remaining.
Sonnesyn, fresh from a win a week earlier in the SuperTour sprint at Theodore Wirth Park in Minneapolis, took a 54-second victory over Anja Gruber (Bozeman, Mont.), winning in 2:34:00. Katie Feldman (Ketchum, Ida.) was third.
It was an all American podium for both men and women in the Birkie skate.
Olympic champion Kikkan Randall (Anchorage), in the midst of a battle with breast cancer, celebrated the one year anniversary of her gold medal with CXC native Jessie Diggins (Afton, Minn.), finished 12th in the 50k skate. Randall spent a long weekend in Hayward, conducting a Fast and Female workshop and competing in her first Birkie – all coming just a month after concluding a long block of cancer treatments. Her gold-medal teammate, Diggins, was a past winner of the Kortelopet.
This weekend’s races saw skiers from 49 states and 23 countries participating. Since the Birkie’s inception with the vision of Tony Wise in 1973, over a quarter-million skiers have taken part.
CXC live streamed all events on Birkie weekend, with over 80,000 fans from around the world tuning in to the stream.
The Birkie is the anchor event of the CXC Marathon Cup series. In the battle for the CXC Marathon Cup title, Gregg has already locked the men’s crown. The women’s race heated up as Bonnie Weiskopf (Stillwater, Minn.) moved into the lead with a narrow 482-480 lead over Vivian Hett (Burnsville, Minn.) with her 13th place finish in the Birkie 50k skate. The Cup will wrap up with the UP Health System Great Bear Chase in Calumet, Mich. on March 9.
SLUMBERLAND AMERICAN BIRKEBEINER
Men’s 50k Skate
- Akeo Maifeld-Carucci, Craftsbury Common, Vt., 2:12:34
- Brian Gregg, Minneapolis, 2:12:35
- Matt Liebsch, Orono, Minn., 2:12:43
Women’s 50k Skate
- Alayna Sonnesyn, S. Londonderry, Vt., 2:34:00
- Anja Gruber, Bozeman, Mont., 2:34:54
- Katie Feldman, Ketchum, Ida., 2:35:08
Men’s 55k Classic
- Peter Holmes, Ketchum, Ida., 3:04:32
- Ivan Babikov, Canmore, Alb. Canada, 3:05:34
- Fredrik Schwencke, Trondheim, Norway, 3:07:15
Women’s 55K Classic
- Cate Brams, Belmont, Mass., 3:21:24
- Erica Wagner, Duluth, Minn., 3:36:31
- Elizabeth Paddock, Missoula, Mont., 3:37:59
Men’s 29k Skate
- Mcewan Rodefeld, Blaine, Minn., 1:18:03
- Drake Hacker, Lisbon, Wis., 1:18:06
- Nick Niemi, Ironwood, Mich., 1:18:09
Women’s 29k Skate
- Olivia Dreger, Marathon, Wis., 1:27:12
- Susanne Hill, Winnipeg, Man., Canada, 1:33:11
- Isabel Seay, Sussex, Wis., 1:33:13
Men’s 29k Classic
- Daniel Huhtala, Green Bay, Wis., 1:26:06
- Ryan Thieme, Green Bay, Wis., 1:26:07
- Adam St. Pierre, Boulder, Colo., 1:27:10
Women’s 29k Classic
- Johanna Craig, Tomahawk, Wis., 1:38:19
- Liv Myers, Stillwater, Minn., 1:42:30
- Nel Hanson, Hayward, Wis., 1:48:58