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46th American Birkebeiner races bring thousands of skiers together

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HAYWARD,WI-- Skiers have been preparing for quite a while.

Participating festivities and races all week long, all leading up to today.

The start of the 46th American Birkebeiner Race kicking off in Cable Wisconsin Saturday morning.

Skier Gerry Cichanowski says, "The saying is there's always one more hill. Doesn't matter where you are on the course, there's at least one more hill."

Cichanowski and his brother Mike, skiing the Birkie is an annual tradition.
"We've skied this together for 41 years, we've also skied in Europe in many of the European races. So we have quite a skiing history," says Mike Cichanowski.

Gerry says this year's feeling is familiar, "I would say about the same as last year, I mean in 41 years some years you feel really good and other years you're barely able to do it because you're fighting a fever."

This year they're fighting warmer weather than in the past.

When asked how he's feeling, Mike responded with a laugh.

"Not good, we're in a classic and we're waxed warm because it's supposed to be warm today, but it's not warm right now," says Mike.

For them, the Birkie is a family and friends affair.

Family friend Kari Henry says, "I take pride in that I'm there Sherpa. It's my job to bring their crap to the start and pick them up at the finish. And take them home, hopefully in one piece."

Henry says she's known the brothers since high school, and they inspired her to get into skiing and the Birkie.

"It's been fun to watch them compete every single year and hear all the good stories and all the bad stories," says Henry.

These brothers say winning isn't their focus this time around.

Mike adds, "We're just trying to finish the race. Typically we are competitive, but not this year."

Gerry says they were competitive up until the 35th year, now it's about having fun.

In the earlier races, they placed in the top ten to twenty

And besides, they know they’ll be coming back for more next year.

Mike "You have good years and bad years, we'll see how it works."

For results and more information click here.

Emma Quinn

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