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Life's complete: Kissed by Olympian

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In anticipation of the weekend ahead, I developed a severe case of Birkie Fever this past week. The American Birkenbiner/Kortelopet took place last weekend; it was as exciting as ever.

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My dad and my brother, Dylan, skied the 54-kilometer race (the Birkie), while my friend, Zach, and I skied the 23K race (the Korte). In order to ski the Birkie, you must be 18. Sadly, I am not 18, so I have to participate in the Korte instead.

On Friday after school, Dylan, Zach, Siri and I headed to Wisconsin. The five and a half hour drive went by remarkably fast. (Probably because I slept the whole way.) Dylan and Zach sat up front and talked about who knows what, while Siri and I made ourselves comfortable in the back.

When we passed through Duluth, my eyes gazed in wonder at all the beautiful lights. Even though I have seen them countless times, I can't help but love them. It all looks so massive when you're up on that hill overlooking the city.

Dylan, knowing that I'm overly afraid of whales, big ships and bridges, took great joy in passing by all three. Well, not a real whale. We headed over the Bong bridge while looking at all the huge ships in the harbor of Lake Superior and had the chance to see the whale backed boat. I swear the ship builders made that thing just to torture me. Whales and big ships aren't a good combination.

My parents and my coaches drove up on Thursday night to collect our bibs and to ski the trails ahead of time. When we arrived at the cabin, dinner was ready for us. I was more than thrilled to have more than cereal in my empty stomach. We all enjoyed some very delicious lasagna. Well, except for Zach. He apparently doesn't take a special fancy to shredded meat. (I didn't know there was a difference between shredded and non-shredded meat.)

I could hardly sleep in anticipation for the next day. Actually, it wasn't anticipation. Siri just wouldn't be quiet. We woke up the next morning a little late so we really had to get our booties in gear. We quickly ate breakfast and were out the door.

At the race, we were surprised to find out that the media passes my mom had for taking pictures landed us a parking spot right at the start. All we had to do was get out of the car and go. There were thousands of people there wearing thousands of different outfits. Some of them were cringe-worthy, but most were quite enjoyable. I have to say, my outfit was the best one there! A lovely $2 sweater vest from the thrift store, accompanied by some vibrant metallic pink tights. It was great.

When the banners were raised at the start line and the race had begun, I was more than excited. Today was my day to go out there and wow people with my tights. And boy, were people wowed! I got asked by multiple people if my tight gave me an extra boost. When I passed one man he said, "Holy man! Those are some bright tights you've got there!"

It turns out, they did give me that extra boost that I needed. At the end of the 23K, I was informed that I placed third. I'm telling you. It's the tights.

My brother successfully finished his first Birkie and my dad, his second. I couldn't be more proud of them. My coach, Dan, actually finished this year without freezing his fingers off! I'd say that's a pretty big accomplishment right there.

Later in the evening, there was an awards ceremony for the winners. Since I placed third, I had the chance to go up on the stage and receive my award. Lucky me, the man handing out the awards was a former Olympian, Vegard Ulvang.

I didn't know exactly what he was doing when he pulled me in for a hug and kissed me on the cheek, but man was I excited! That's pretty much the only thing I talked about all night long. I'm sure my companions were thrilled to have to listen to it.

Kissed by an Olympian, my life is complete.

Berit Ramstad Skoyles is a sophomore at Detroit Lakes High School.

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