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Manfred Nagl Wins the Birkie

Many of you have probably seen this poster in various ski lodges or in homes around the area. This is the 1991 Birkie poster that shows Manfred Nagl just edging out second place in one of the most exciting finishes the race has ever had. I love this picture because even though it's a still image, you can see from these guy's body position just how far technique has come in the last...almost 20 years!

What most people don't know is that during the 1990 event, Manfred Nagl and Rudy Kappelar were assigned to my grandpa's house in Hayward. Back then elite skiers used to request a "host" family to kind of take care of them while they were in the area. Well, apparently Manfred's nerves were shot after driving around with old Grandpa Sahs and having a few too many lessons on how "not" to drive on Wisconsin icy roads (my grandpa was famous for terrifying people by slamming on his breaks and cackling wildly).

However, the experience at Grandpa's house didn't deter Manfred forever (he had a stronger constitution than some I can tell you), and he eventually returned to win the Birkie 3 times.

Anyway, that's what I think about every time I see this old poster. The one in the image above is on display at the ski lodge at the Tower Ridge ski area in Eau Claire.

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