Local skiers re-enact Birkebeiner legend


TOM LAWN (far left), son Chris (holding his daughter, Kiersten), and Lori House re-enact the 800-year-old “Birkebeiner” legend at the recent American Birkebeiner cross-country ski race. — Submitted photo TOM LAWN (far left), son Chris (holding his daughter, Kiersten), and Lori House re-enact the 800-year-old “Birkebeiner” legend at the recent American Birkebeiner cross-country ski race. — Submitted photo HAYWARD – For Tom Lawn of Plymouth and his son, Chris, and family friend Lori House, both of Madison, the American Birkebeiner has been a family tradition for many years. This renowned cross country ski race was even more special for them this year.

The trio of cross country skiers re-enacted the 800-year-old legend which inspired the creation of the Birkebeiner. The Birkebeiner celebrated its 40th anniversary Feb. 23 and the re-enactment was part of the event’s program.

The 50-kilometer American Birkebeiner race, which drew many of the top cross country ski racers in the world, started at Cable and finished in Hayward. Tom was participating in his 29th American Birkebeiner and Chris, in his 18th.

The trio was chosen to perform the portrayal after winning the 2013 Birkie Warriors & Inga Contest. Tom and Chris portrayed the two Birkie Warriors who rescued Prince Haakon during the Norwegian Civil War in 1206. Lori, a longtime cross country skier, played the role of Queen Inga from Varteig, mother of Prince Haakon and a legendary figure in her own right.

Chris’s daughter, Kiersten, who was born in July, portrayed the baby prince. For the re-enactment finish, they picked up Kiersten as part of the rescue scene.

The Legend says that the Viking Warriors skied the prince and the queen to safety after a trip of over 50 kilometers through Norway’s rugged mountains and forested terrain. The Warriors were called “Birkebeiners” because of the protective birchbark leggings they wore.

The Lawns wore the garb of the original Birkebeiners – layers of wool and cotton, a metal helmet and wooden skis. On Birkie race day, the “Warriors and Inga” left the starting gate with the Elite Wave skiers. The remainder of the 10,000 skiers followed every five minutes in alternating skate and classic wave starts.


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