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Getting ready for the Birkie

Jan Guenther is a winter sports enthusiast and looking forward to participating in the largest cross-country ski event in North America next weekend.

MEDINA, Minn. — Jan Guenther loves being outside cross-country skiing.

“You’ve got to look out here, it’s absolutely beautiful. You could stay inside all winter but I think that you would miss the beauty that winter can be. You can explore it on skis,” she said.

Guenther fell in love with the sport after moving back to the Midwest following college, and has been passionate about it ever since.

“It gets you in touch with the outdoor world. Sometimes it’s freezing, sometimes it's windy, sometimes it’s sparkly. It just makes you feel alive,” she said.

The Twin Cities resident is getting ready for the 46th annual American Birkebeiner next weekend. She’s been competing in North America’s largest cross country ski race for three decades.

“I don’t get nervous anymore because I’m 60. When I was younger, I got nervous,” she said.

“The Birkie is two things: it’s an endurance event for those who like to go fast. It’s a camaraderie meet with friends and have individual personal bets with friends event.”

Guenther serves on the Birkie’s board of directors and also owns two sporting good stores in the Twin Cities, Gear West Ski and Bike as well as Gear West Adrenaline.

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