Kickass and the Birkebeiner

Kickass, the doorstop dog, is allowing the keeper to do a final run of the Birkebeiner ski race, virtually and only by way of reminiscence.  It was back in the dark ages of the Carter administration, and as a Milwaukee Journal staffer, the keeper was on the Cable Wisconsin Berkebeiner scene to gather column writing material.

Also on the scene was Billy Carter, Jimmy’s brother who was then deep into the role of media foil from his gas station in Plain, GA. as the beer guzzling brother of the POTUS. Billy had apparently been hired by Birky people as a celebrity draw, his function being to stand around and smile at people while holding a can of Billy Beer.  (Remember that?)

Billy did not ski, but the keeper did, losing control on an icy hill and crashing off the trail and into thick brush from which extrication was at first hopeless and then prolonged and painful.

The wounded keeper quit the race, writing that he was not about to further endanger himself in the name of an ancient little Norwegian bastard being transported by skiers across the mountains and out of danger, which is the 1,000-year-old genesis of the Birky.

Aside from his Birky experience, the keeper enjoyed cross-country skiing for many years, and later had a one-on-one with a reformed Billy Carter when he came to Chicago to promote sobriety.  It says something about the keeper that his memories of the Birky Billy are more vivid than the ones from the abstinence Billy’s Chicago visit.   The explanation for that may lie in the keeper’s life-long Wisconsin conditioning which holds that beer is the essential lubricant of life and as such it cushions everything, even crashing off the trail and into the brush, maybe especially that.



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