The "biggest show on snow" — the American Birkebeiner cross-country ski race — takes place every February in the Northwoods between Cable and Hayward, Wisconsin. As always, we’ll be there racing and cheering from the Key Log® Crossing, a new bridge crossing at the OO Trailhead.
Every year since 1973, thousands of skiers have come together to ski 50 kilometers through the forests in a race affectionately known as the Birkie. So what does this have to do with log rolling? A LOT!
Tony Wise, the founder of the Birkie was also the founder of the Lumberjack World Championships and host of the World Log Rolling Championships.
More importantly, for us, he created the first log rolling school for kids in 1969! Our co-founder, Judy Scheer Hoeschler, was in the first class and went on to win seven world titles in Lumberjack Bowl, the water stadium Tony built for log rolling. The event was made famous around the world when it was televised on ABC's Wide World of Sports.
In 1973, while still in high school, Judy's mom took her and her siblings to watch the start of the first American Birkebeiner, on the ice at Lumberjack Bowl where they log rolled in summers. Something very small was about to get very big.
Flash forward five years — Judy and her husband, Jay Hoeschler, and thousands of people around the world had caught Birkie Fever. The race became a Scheer Hoeschler family tradition along with summers log rolling at the Bowl. All because of the vision and imagination of one man and the generosity of volunteers in his community.
Tony had a “if you build it, they will come” mentality and Judy grew up in his big shadow. He didn’t live to see Judy’s big idea of the Key Log® come to life but we are confident he would have been delighted that the technology and portability could bring log rolling to the world. He knew the intensity of log rolling competition and he would have embraced the Olympic vision.
Coming full circle…. A few years ago, the American Birkiebeiner Ski Foundation embarked on a capital campaign to improve the race. Our family found the perfect metaphor to honor Tony Wise — the Key Log Crossing — a trail bridge crossing County OO road, halfway between Cable and Hayward. And a bridge between his two signature events — the American Birkebeiner and the Lumberjack World Championships which, thanks to the Foundation, are now back under one management.
We couldn’t think of a better way to keep skiers, bikers and runners safe on the trail. Now we'll recruit them to roll right into Lumberjack Bowl to try their feet at the most intense water sport on earth.
To learn how you can get rolling at your backyard pool or lake home, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.