A private investment group based in Colorado bought the shuttered Telemark Resort and the start area for the American Birkebeiner through a sheriff’s sale in Bayfield County on October 15.
The new owners, Mount Telemark Partners, have property in the Cable area, and are part of the Johnson-Lewis family which owns Johnson Wax products. They reportedly have no interest in running the resort but are talking to interested parties about the possibility of reopening the lodge.
The unnamed buyer, who paid $926,000 for the shuttered resort, has provided assurances the property would remain open for use by the Birkebeiner, the Chequamegon Fat Tire Festival and other events that draw thousands to Wisconsin’s northwest Bayfield and Sawyer Counties each year.
The first few kilometers of the race course for the 50K Birkebeiner cross Telemark land and the 23K Kortelopet starts and finishes just outside the lodge. The Birkebeiner has launched a campaign to raise $200,000 to $400,000 to secure permanent access to the start area, according to Tom Held at TheActivePursuit.com.
James Bolen, executive director at the Cable Area Chamber of Commerce, told Held that the buyer has no interest in operating the lodge, which includes more than 200 hotel rooms and suites, a restaurant, conference rooms and dance parlor. The structure dates back to 1973, has outdated mechanicals and fell into severe disrepair after the utilities were turned off last spring.
Bolen said a group has presented a plan to re-open the lodge, and will work on a deal with the new owner. “If those talks were to be successful and amicable, there is the potential for the lodge to reopen at some point in the future,” he said. It is unlikely the lodge will open this winter, however.
Wisconsin Public Radio reported that CXC, an international cross-country skiing organization based in Wisconsin, is hoping to lease Telemark Resort although its staff wouldn’t run it.