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Spring Valley's Bowman sings Anthem to open the Birke

Riley Bowman sang at the opening ceremony. On race day, she sang from a tower close to the starting line. Submitted photo

SPRING VALLEY -- She's been the Wolves Idol and a Starquest star, and now Riley Bowman could be called the "Cross Country Crooner."

Bowman was chosen to sing the National Anthem for the American Birkebeiner cross country ski race in Northern Wisconsin this past weekend. The Spring Valley Middle School student has watched the race in person three times previously, her mother, Ann Kiefer, said Wednesday.

"She's in basketball, so she hasn't gotten into cross country skiing herself," said Kiefer, who along with husband Dennis will compete in the event.

The eighth grader was named Wolves Idol by the Minnesota Timberwolves professional basketball team a year ago and was in the finals of the Eau Claire Children's Theatre "Starquest" last November. She was to sing the Anthem for the Birke's opening ceremonies Friday in Cable, including a torch lighting at Telemark Resort, and from a tower stand at the race's start Saturday.

"They predict 9,000 skiers will be there," her mom said about information from the computer internet, "and expect 17 to 20,000 spectators."

Kiefer said she spoke with Shelly Milford, a Birkebeiner coordinator, and learned local people had previously performed the Anthem for the race. The family then sent Milford a demo tape of Bowman, recorded in November doing a varied song list. The response last month about the young singer being chosen indicated Birke officials were impressed with the 14-year-old.

Her daughter "sings all the time," so hadn't rehearsed specifically for the race, Kiefer said, mentioning a girls basketball game and a solo ensemble contest as two other singing opportunities for her. She said the young performer was more excited than nervous about her latest appearance. She was to sing the Anthem a cappella.

Read more in the print version of the Herald Feb. 25.