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TGB Recognizes St. Germaine for Skiing All 50 Birkebeiner Races

Updated: Mar 7

The Lac Courte Oreilles Tribal Governing Board (TGB), represented by TGB member Michelle Beaudin, presented Ernie St. Germaine with some gifts and a proclamation to honor him as the only person to have skied the American Birkebeiner all 50 races.


St. Germaine, wearing his red #3 bib, the color bib only worn by those who are recognized as Birkie Founders, a label given to skiers who have skied the first 10 races, accepted the gifts on the Birkie Stage.


Although St. Germaine is a tribal member of Lac du Flambeau, he has always called LCO home. He is the son of Saxon St. Germaine and he’s the former tribal judge of the LCO Tribal Court.


Beaudin said, "Ernie has been an outstanding member of our community for as long as I can remember. He started our first LCO Cross Country Ski Club, helped make the trails that are behind the school that are used today for all kinds of purposes, he was our LCO Court Judge, and a positive role model.  I know that his mother and family are very proud of all his accomplishments."


She added that St Germaine is an inspiration to so many of us here in living a positive & healthy lifestyle, as well as giving back to our community.


From “The Legacy of Ernie St. Germaine” at crosscountryskier.com, he recalls that first race 50 years ago.


St. Germaine never planned to ski the first Birkie. An alpine skier, he put on cross country skis for the first time, at the age of 25, exactly one week before the inaugural race on February 24, 1973. The extent of his practice? He tried out Lyman Williamson’s skinny skis for 20 minutes in the driveway. Williamson, a friend of St. Germaine’s grandfather, was going to ski the 55-kilometer race organized by his friend Tony Wise, owner of the Telemark Lodge in Cable, but his plans were nixed.


St. Germaine remembers that day well. “Lyman was 72, and his wife said no. He turned to me and said, ‘My boy, you are going to represent me.’ I suppose I’ve been representing him every year since.”


That year the race began on Lake Hayward. At the start, St. Germaine called out to Williamson, “Where are we going?” Recalls St. Germaine now, “I had no idea. I thought we were just going out on the lake.” Williamson called back, “Don’t worry. I’ll pick you up at Telemark.”


“I just followed the snowmobile track with ski tracks on it,” St. Germaine relates. “When we got close to Telemark, I could hear music from the chalet. I was so tired. There were two long climbs to go and my skis slipped, and Dave Landgraf and I were on all fours. Karl Andresen herringboned up behind us and said, ‘Get the hell out of the way.’ No way did we want him to beat us. Dave and I went down the next hill together and crashed into a bank. Karl skied by and finished well in front of us. Not knowing how to stop, Dave and I crashed at the finish line, laughing. There were two posts and a card table, and Jeanette Vortanz was handing out gold NASTAR ribbons. She said, ‘The devil got into you boys!’”

 

Proclamation Honoring The Legacy of Ernest "Ernie" St. Germaine

WHEREAS, the Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians is a Federally Recognized Indian Tribe ("Tribe") organized pursuant to the provisions of the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934, 25 U.S.C. §5101, et seq.; and,


WHEREAS, the Tribal Governing Board serves as the governing body of Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians pursuant to Article III, § 1 of the Amended Constitution and Bylaws of the Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians; and


WHEREAS, Ernest "Ernie" St. Germaine, an enrolled member of the Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians, was born on February 7, 1948, in Idabel, Oklahoma, to the late Saxon St. Germaine (LCO Tribal Member); and


WHEREAS, Ernie was raised on the Lac Courte Oreilles Reservation and considers Lac Courte Oreilles and Lac du Flambeau home; Ernie has been a lifelong community member and role model of Lac Courte Oreilles with strong community ties; and


WHEREAS, Ernie is active in Birkie One (an American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation whose mission is to increase diversity, equity, access, and inclusivity initiatives) and their partnership with Akii-gikinoo'amaading Charter School (located on the Lac Courte Oreilles Reservation); and


WHEREAS, on February 24, 1973, Ernie started and raced in the first American Birkebeiner in the Lumberjack Bowl in Hayward, Wisconsin, and he has been named a Founder, an honor bestowed upon the first skiers of the American Birkebeiner; Ernie is the only remaining Founder to ski the race; and


WHEREAS, on February 21, 2024, Ernie St. Germaine completed his 50th race in the Birkie, and thus the only skier to complete all 50 Birkebeiners.


NOW, THEREFORE, IT IS HEREBY PROCLAIMED BY THE LAC COURTE OREILLES TRIBAL GOVERNING BOARD:


The Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians honors, recognizes and celebrates the historic accomplishments and legacy of Ernie St. Germaine, and expresses our sincerest gratitude and appreciation for his lifetime commitment, dedication, contributions, and efforts to promoting an active, healthy, and positive lifestyle, while demonstrating cultural identity.


Presented this 23rd Day of February, 2024.


In 1973, St. Germaine (fifth from left) started the first Birkebeiner in Lumberjack Bowl in Hayward, Wisconsin. [Photo] Courtesy American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation (ABSF)

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