Providing a Path

AriensCo is a proud partner of the American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation (ABSF) since 2021, working in harmony to help sponsor events for more than 20,000 participants that compete annually in cross-country skiing, biking and running events. 

The ABSF is a non-profit, membership organization that formed in 1985 to host year-round, healthy, active-lifestyle events on its American Birkebeiner Trail (Birkie Trail) that stretches more than 100K in length. The Birkie Trail attracts athletes from around the world to seek adventure in the north woods of Wisconsin. 

AriensCo helps support the ABSF by ensuring the Birkie Trail is consistently protected, maintained and available for events throughout all four seasons, of course with the help of AriensCo equipment.

Elise Ariens uses an Ariens Sno-Thro to help clear the course on Main Street post race.

“AriensCo and the ABSF initially partnered together because of the American Birkebeiner, which is the largest event to take place on the Birkie Trail. The American Birkebeiner is like the Boston Marathon of Nordic skiing,” said Jeff Hommes, partnership director of the ABSF. “A partnership between two thriving, Wisconsin-based organizations that has grown from sponsoring an event to now working together to maintain trails and making Nordic and Biathlon skiing available to thousands of outdoor enthusiasts just makes sense.” 

Because the Birkie Trail travels through state and county forests, the terrain is a combination of rolling hills with rocky, grassy and tree-covered grounds. The AriensCo equipment on site to help support the Birkie Trail includes Ariens snow blowers and Gravely zero-turn lawn mowers. The Birkie Management Team, which is comprised of five full-time team-members, uses the equipment. 

“A Gravely zero-turn is used every day in the summer, to help mow the Birkie Trail from Cable to Hayward, Wisconsin,” Hommes said. “AriensCo equipment also helps us ensure the trail is ready in December for the cross-country ski season. The models used on site in winter include the Ariens Professional 21-inch Single Stage Sno-Thros for lighter snow areas, and the Ariens Platinum 24-inch SHO RapidTrak Two-Stage Sno-Thros for heavier snow.” 

Jim Sokup, director of facilities and operations at the ABSF, mentions that AriensCo equipment has been extremely dependable for the Birkie team and its staff members. He said that the Ariens and Gravely mowers deliver excellence on the demanding terrain and conditions of the Birkie Trail. 

The growing list of events at the site now includes: 

  • Turkey Birkie Ski Festival 

  • Birkie Tour 

  • Ski de She Camp and Race 

  • Birkie Week Races: Slumberland American Birkebeiner, Kortelopet, Prince Haakon, Junior Birkie, ParaBirkie, BarneBirke, Barkie Birke and the Birkie Giant Ski 

  • Fat Bike Birkie 

  • Epic Bike Fest 

  • Birkie Trail Run 


The ABSF has also been a significant consultant to AriensCo in the development of its new Nordic center in Brillion, Wisconsin (page 22). 

“Together, our two organizations have formed a partnership that makes Wisconsin a true Nordic skiing destination,” Hommes said.

Skiers make their way to the finish line at the Slumberland American Birkebeiner.


While the ABSF hosts a variety of popular, annual events, the largest one it hosts is the Slumberland American Birkebeiner that will take place on February 25, 2023. 

The 2023 Slumberland American Birkebeiner spans nearly 30 miles through Wisconsin, making it North America's largest cross-country ski marathon. In 2020, the event brought in skiers from 49 states and 27 countries. 

Skiers will begin at the American Birkebeiner Trailhead in Cable, Wisconsin, ski their way through the forest on the Birkie trail, glide across Lake Hayward, and crossover the American Birkebeiner International Bridge before heading towards the finish line on Hayward’s snow-covered Main Street (pictured above). The event spans 50 kilometers (31.07 miles) for skater skiers, and 53 kilometers (34.18 miles) for classic skiers. 

“The purpose of this event is really to help inspire participants to challenge themselves outdoors and create memories that will shape their lives,” said Blair Flickinger, marketing director at the ABSF. 

In addition to participants attending from around the world, thousands of spectators descend on the Hayward and surrounding communities to cheer on athletes along the course and Main Street in downtown Hayward. 

AriensCo also contributes to the event by hosting “Ariens Lodge” during the Birkie week, which is a fun way to raise money and show their support. 

The Ariens Lodge at the Birkebeiner.

The 2022 Ariens Lodge featured a variety of activities that brought in athletes of all ages, including: 

  • Outdoor fire stoves to stay warm 

  • Retail shop carrying AriensCo brand apparel and merchandise 

  • Happy hour with fellow co-sponsors, Earth Rider Brewery and Backroads Coffee 

  • Team Birkie athlete meet and greet 

  • Deluxe 24 Sno-Thro raffle with all profits donated to the Boys & Girls Club of Lac Courte Oreilles  


Plans for the 2023 Ariens Lodge are being finalized, be sure to stop by if you’re at the Birkie. 

“Community is a big part of our culture at AriensCo,” said Monica Ariens, managing director with oversight of Ariens Nordic Center for AriensCo. “Being headquartered in Brillion, Wisconsin, we take pride in sponsoring an event located in another quaint Wisconsin locale. The initiatives we have moving forward in our company’s hospitality division also align with the cross-country race, so we are excited to see this partnership come to fruition.” 

By Julia Shrader

03/01/2023 | Providing a Path

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