Birkebeiner will take place, but with safety protocols

Wisconsin

In this Feb. 8, 2020, photo, cross-country skiers from around Vermont compete in races at U-32 Middle & High School in East Montpelier, Vt. The ski racing community worldwide is starting to back away from the use of fluorinated waxes that contain chemicals that pose threats to human health and impact the environment. (AP Photo/Lisa Rathke)

CABLE, Wis. (AP) — The American Birkebeiner Ski Race in northern Wisconsin will look different this year because of coronavirus safety protocols.

Organizers of the event, promoted as North America’s largest and longest cross-country ski race, have stretched it from a single day to five days from Feb. 24-28.

Last year about 11,000 skiers participated in the race, which can draw as many 30,000 spectators.

This year, organizers are expecting under 5,000 skiers to race in person with no spectators allowed.

The race’s executive director, Ben Popp, says the event usually attracts skiers from across the globe, but this year the majority of participants will be coming from Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan.

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