Home Destinations Ski the Birkebeiner – Viking Fun For Everyone!

Ski the Birkebeiner – Viking Fun For Everyone!

by Karen Ung
If you love to cross country ski, ski the Canadian Birkebeiner outside Edmonton! Channel your inner Lagertha or Ragnar and get your loppet on! ThisViking-themed Birkebeiner cross country ski race is family-friendly and fun for all ages.When you ski the Birkebeiner, 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 Birkebeiner 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 km “tour” perfect for kids! Ski the legend and don’t forget your Viking helmet! While Viking attire isn’t mandatory, it sure adds to the fun.
Costumed Birkebeiners at the Canadian Birkebeiner
Costumed Birkebeiners at the 2017 Canadian Birkebeiner

What the Heck is a Birkebeiner Anyways?

The original meaning of Birkebeiner 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 – Birkebeiner came to mean “a person strong in adversity, never daunted by trial and hardships.” (Source)
Canadian Birkie Course - Cooking Lake Provincial Park
Cooking Lake Provincial Park

Event Details

The Canadian Birkebeiner – 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 8, 2019: Opening Ceremony, Nordic Fair and Registration Package Pick Up at Woodvale Community Facility. You MUST pick up your package on February 8!
  • February 9, 2019: 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 Viking’s Feast is NOT included in Birkebeiner registration fee. Purchase a ticket in advance here).
  • February 10, 2019: Birkie Sunday Family Event includes a 50 m dash, 500 m, 1.5 km and 3 km Barnebirkie and promises to be lots of fun.
For more information, please see Canadian Birkie Event Details.


No matter how long you’ve been skiing, there is a Birkebeiner 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 km or 4 km) with costumed Birkebeiners and I will be skiing the 31 km Birkie Tour. 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.
Canadian Birkie Course Start Line - Goose Lake
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 or 4 km Birkie Ole’s Tour  – Fun, untimed ski that kids and parents can do together! Choose your distance (one 2-km loop or two) on race day!
  • 4 or 8 km Imperial Oil Birkie Fun Ski – Recreational event for new adult skiers. Do one loop or two!
  • 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.
  • 31 km Birkie Tour – More experienced skiers may challenge themselves with this longer course that shares a lot of the 55 km route.
  • 55 km Birkie Lite – The ultimate challenge! Times are recorded by age categories.
  • 55 km with pack Torskeklubben Birkebeiner – Carry the 5.5 kilogram (12 pound) Birkie Baby to safety! Fortunately you don’t have to go over any mountain passes.
Which one will you sign up for?
Little Birkebeiner in Viking helmet
See you there!


Register for the Canadian Birkebeiner here. *Discounted pricing available until January 31!* The Final Deadline for registering is Wednesday, February 6, 2019 at 3:00 p.m.
Ready for the Birkebeiner, Viking helmet and all
Don’t forget your Viking attire!

For More Information

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


As an Alberta Parks Ambassador, my registration fee for the 2017 Birkebeiner was waived, but all words and opinions are my own.
Ski the Canadian Birkebeiner Pinterest pin

Where to Train For the Birkie

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