Three Generation Tradition

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65, the number you get when you add up the years that my family and I have been participating in the American Birkebeiner events. Team Sturdy Women, as we now call ourselves, consists of my mom, Wendy, my aunt, Kate, my grandma, Judi, and me.

It all started with my grandma. Years ago, she decided to ski her first Birkie. Now, 26 years later, she is still going strong. (This year will be her 26th Birkie!) She is now a member of the Birchleggings club, and is extremely proud of it. If it wasn't for her strength and determination, nobody in our family would be doing the Birkie, today.

As for my mom, she will be skiing her 16th Birkie. A while back, my grandma convinced her to ski the Birkie. (She wouldn't allow her to do just the Korteloppet. My grandma said that if she could do the whole thing, so could my mom.) One year, a few years back, I can remember my mom being very sick. Even though she was weak, there were no thoughts of skipping the Birkie. She got an IV to rehydrate herself, plopped some Vick's Vapor Rub on her chest, loaded up on some Tylenol, and she was off to ski what she had been training for all year. At the time, I thought she was crazy, but now, it is a different story. Now that I am an 'official' Birkie skier, I know that hours upon hours are needed to train, and you can't let them go to waste. If you're sick, you just suck it up and ski. As our family says, 'You can rest when you're dead.'

My Aunt Kate will be participating in her 6th Birkie event this year. She started with the Korte, and is now skiing the full Birkie. Last year, it was her idea to buy matching, light blue, Craft suits to ski the Birkie in, so we could tell where our fellow team members were. This year, she designed a logo for Team Sturdy Women. Now, we all have matching sweatshirts, too. Since she lives in Minneapolis, we don't get to see her very much. But when we do, there is no question on what we will be doing. As you might have guess, it is Birkie trail skiing, of course!

Now, I will tell you a little about myself. I have been skiing since I was three years old. As soon as I reached the 'legal' Barnebirkie age, I was racing down Mainstreet to the cookies and hot chocolate. As I grew older, I entered the Junior Birkie, the Korteloppet, and finally, the Birkie. Some families celebrate learning how to drive, getting all A's on report cards, or getting into college. In our family, we celebrate when a person is finally old enough to ski the full Birkie. This year will be my 17th Birkie event. (I am one ahead of my mom, due to the unfortunate year that the Birkie was cancelled.) I have done 11 Barnebirkies, 2 Junior Birkies, 2 Kortes, and this year will make 2 Birkies!

As you can see, my family is special. Not too many people can say that their grandma will have skied 26 full Birkies, or that there are 3 generations that participate in Birkie events each year. Not to mention, that this year our team will get to ski the Birkie with Bjorn Daehlie'one of the world's most honored Olympians! When I think about this, I realize how lucky I am to have had so many amazing experiences with such an incredible family.





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