Birkie Recap with Hannah Rudd!

Birkie Recap with Hannah Rudd!

It has been just about a week since the great cross country ski gathering in the Northwoods of Wisconsin! All who participated in the Birkebeiner, whether racing, cheering from the sidelines, or supporting friends and family on course, know that it was a unique and unforgettable year.

Leading up to the Birkie, I (like many other Minnesotans), made my way to Theodore Wirth Park to watch the World Cup races unfold on my home ski trails. Initially, deciding to go watch the World Cup was a little bittersweet for me as I had big goals to qualify for these races myself. I decided that I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to cheer for my friends and teammates and be part of this historic event. The Midwest ski community came out in full force for this World Cup weekend and it was truly the most amazing thing I have ever seen.

Coming off the high of the World Cup weekend, I was feeling inspired and excited for the Birkie weekend. On Saturday morning I woke up and was feeling good. After some oatmeal and coffee with my mom, who was also racing, I grabbed my skis- a great pair of Salomon Rainbow base skis with an SL21 Factory grind- and headed to the Birkie trails!

Thin ribbon of snow on the 2024 birkie trail

The snow ribbon (Photo Credits to gpowersfilm)

This year’s Birkie course was five laps around the 10-kilometer snow ribbon, meandering through the stadium, powerline, and the surrounding trails. Given the heightened competition and the altered course, I approached the start line with a mixture of excitement and nerves, standing shoulder to shoulder with Jessie Diggins.

Jessie Diggins and Hannah at the start line

Lining up next to Jessie Diggins (Photo Credits to Skinnyski)

The race started out hot for the first 5 kilometers, but as the chase pack formed, our pace evened out a bit. We had a pretty big group of about 10 women, but as the kilometers ticked by, the pack began to shrink. I knew that my body was feeling good, so I took turns leading the group and tried to push the pace. On the final climb everyone began to make moves as we were fighting for the 3rd place spot. Alayna had a strong sprint up the last hill and landed in 3rd while I sprinted with Caitlin Patterson into a 4th place finish. This was my best ever Birkie result, and I could not be more excited! A big thanks to Salomon and Pioneer for picking me out some rocking fast skis!

Hannah Rudd leading the birkie elite womens train

Taking my turn leading the chase pack! (Photo Credits to Skinnyski)

After some serious couch time, some chicken pesto pasta, and a good night’s sleep, I was back out on the trails for Sunday’s Classic Birkie. Many of the elite men and women, including myself, decided not to put any kick wax or klister on our skis for the classic race. Because of the flatter nature of the course and the fast conditions I thought that double poling the entire 30-kilometers would be the faster option. Caitlin Patterson and I skied the majority of the race together and had another sprint finish down the final stretch of the course. I ended up winning the race and earning my first ever Birkebeiner podium!

Reid Goble and Hannah Rudd on the podium

(My boyfriend Reid and I getting to top the podium together! Photo Credits to American Birkebeiner)

For me, this was an unforgettable weekend. The American Birkebeiner Foundation created an incredible course with zero help from mother nature, all while maintaining the fun Birkie vibe at the venue. The spectators lining the course made every racer feel like a super star. I got to stay with my parents at our family cabin and see so many new and old friends. Being able to pull together two great races was truly a cherry on top!

Hannah Rudd with her parents after the race

Post-race with my parents!

A big thank you so Pioneer Midwest for all the support, skis, and cheering out there this weekend! Couldn’t do it without them!

Matt Liebsch and Hannah Rudd after the Birkie Classic

Matt and I repping the Pioneer headbands!

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