Organizing a big sporting event during a pandemic

For the past year, the Coronavirus Pandemic has been canceling sporting events all around the world. But the organizers of North America’s biggest ski marathon, the American Birkebeiner, were determined to find a way to hold the race anyway, and they were resolved to do it safely.  The American Birkebeiner Ski Race takes place every February in northern Wisconsin, and it usually attracts over 10,000 skiers. But this year’s participation numbers were down to less than half of the usual number, and the organizers incorporated a variety of changes intended to mitigate the potential spread of Coronavirus among participants.  On this week’s Outdoor Explorer, we’ll speak with the American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation’s executive director, Ben Popp, about the changes and mitigations that were put in place for this winter’s event, and about how they made their decision to go forward with the race, even during the pandemic.

HOST: Adam Verrier


  • Ben Popp, Executive Director, American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation


BROADCAST: Thursday, March 18th, 2021. 10:00 am – 11:00 a.m. AKT

REPEAT BROADCAST:  Thursday, March 18th 2021. 8:00 – 9:00 p.m. AKT

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Eric Bork, or you can just call him “Bork” because everybody else does, is the FM Operations Manager for KSKA-FM. He oversees the day-to-day operations of the FM broadcast. He produces and edits episodes of Outdoor Explorer, the Alaska-focused outdoors program. He also maintains the web posts for that show. You may have heard him filling in for Morning Edition or hosting All Things Considered and can still find him operating the soundboard for any of the live broadcast programs. After escaping the Detroit area when he was 18, Bork made it up to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, where he earned a degree in Communications/Radio Broadcasting from Northern Michigan University. He spent time managing the college radio station, working for the local NPR affiliate, and then in top 40 radio in Michigan before coming to Alaska to work his first few summers. After then moving to Chicago, it only took five years to convince him to move back to Alaska in 2010. When not involved in great radio programming he’s probably riding a bicycle, thinking about riding bicycles, dreaming about bikes, reading a book, or planning the next place he’ll travel to. Only two continents left to conquer!