EDMONTON -- The Canadian Birkebeiner Society has postponed the Canadian Birkie Ski Festival – to be held east of Edmonton – to February of next year.

Officials say registration will be carried forward at no cost to the in-person festival now taking place Feb. 11-13, 2022.

Participants will also receive free entry to a virtual festival happening Feb. 12, 2021.

“This is so hard for the skiers and the volunteers. We have worked at planning a safe event since early fall, with thousands of hours invested in designing a Birkie that would be possible with outdoor sports gatherings of up to 100 people,” said Birkie president Dave Cooper in a news release.

“Sadly, it seems the continuing COVID-19 situation and health regulations will not allow this limit to be in place by the time the Birkie starts on February 12.”

The 2021 Birkie was going to be held on two sites at the Cooking Lake – Blackfoot Provincial Recreation Area and would have featured individually-spaced starts over a looped trail system.

"It's a tough decision, but it wasn't hard to make because the facts were all there. We really had no choice. Our hands were tied," Cooper told CTV News Edmonton. "We're disappointed alright, the people are disappointed, but what are you gonna do?"

With registration capped at 640 people, officials say this year's event sold out within a month.

More details on the festival can be found here.