Friday, 5 February 2016

Wax... if the Birkie was tomorrow

Patrick was out skiing at Goldbar last night and would rate the conditions as fair to poor. The plan was for them to groom the trails last night, so the trails may be better today.

Based on what Patrick saw last night, and if the Birkie was tomorrow, here's what we'd be doing for wax:
1. Under Layer (crucial): Something black and hard would be best. Either Ski*Go LF Graphite or Rex RCF Black.

2. Race WaxIt's pretty icy out there and not very granular, at least in Edmonton. If we were to put something on without testing it would be Holmenkol Matrix Black/Red, Holemnkol Speedbase Mid, Start BM4, or Swix HF7BW or Ski*Go HF Violet (even though it's not black).

3. Powder and/or liquid: If we were to do something without testing it would be Vauhti C11 or LDR, Swix FC5, or SkiGo C44.
4. Top Coat: If we were to use a top coat and we do, it would be Vauhti Black liquid all the way. No questions asked.
5. Kick: Kim says that Laura had good success on Blue PowerGrip last night. We could see Blue PowerGrip working, but come race day blue might be a little lean. We would likely lean more towards Purple PowerGrip.
Bjorn says that the appropriate hardwax overtop of blue klister has been working. We could see that as a possibility too.
Lastly, in Goldbar anyway, we would certainly be tempted to try straight klister. A violet/universal mix probably, or the Vauhti K-Violet which is a pre-mix of that right in the tube.
In any event, binder is going to be critical. If we were on straight hard wax it would be K-base. If we were on klister it could likely be something tough... like Rex Blue or similar.
So that's what we know. Bear in mind that this is all a guess based on what Patrick saw at Goldbar last night. But if we were racing and waxing skis tonight without testing, this is how we would do it. 

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Birkie Wax Discussion Early Edition

Latest update from the Canadian Birkie:
2016 Birkie a GO! All scheduled races will proceed @ the Canadian Birkie Ski Festival on Feb 13, 2016 w/ the exception of the 40km Skate.

Trail Conditions Leading Up to the Birkie:
As of Tuesday, February 2nd the following is a list of local trail conditions to help with your training leading up to the Birkie.

Devon / Devon Family Loppet:
Mike from the Devon Nordic Ski Club had the following to say about their trails, "The snow is an issue, but defiantly skiable". They did renovate Friday evening with no great success but did see some positive results. They are on a golf course and have a flat course and have small patches of grass showing through in a few areas. 

The weather looks steady below zero and they do not get a lot of direct sunlight on the course so they are confident the Devon Loppet is a go. The Loppet is 10km classic so could be a nice double pole tune up for the Birkie.

Vermillion / Becky Scott Loppet:

The Becky Scott loppet has been cancelled this year due to poor snow conditions.

Blackfoot / Birkie:
Long range forecast calls for milder temps. The trails are currently ice, crusty ice, and glazed ice. They have opted to cease any grooming activities until next week, in the hopes that whatever they have left on the trails can be renovated enough to ski on. 

From what Bjorn saw at Waskahegan last week, the snow pack is quite thin but a few passes with a snow cat & tiller can do wonders but with the low snow pack they could bring up a dirt, leaves, & grass. 

At this stage it will be difficult to get a consistent classic track in all sections of the trails.  

We hope to head out there this week and see what’s happening.

Drayton Valley:
Drayton Valley received about 5cm of snow this past Sunday to pad their already very good snow base and good conditions!


Bjorn out at SWC spent nine painstakingly slow hours in the Pisten Bully last night and was able to cajole some life out of the icy mess. The result, as Bjorn says, "is not pretty, but skiable for those good on their feet. Skate skiing is good, with packed granular, some icy / bare sections." 

Bjorn managed to renovate enough to set classic tracks on some trails , others have the icy rails from old tracks; the “new” tracks are OK, crushed granular with icy / glazed base. 

Goldbar Park:
Goldbar / Capilanno is skiable but still icy. The snow gun was out, but no production as of yet but they are  hoping it will be up and running today weather permitting.

Victoria Park:

I have not been out but received an email with the following quote in reference to the trail conditions, "pretty dicey"

Birkie Specific Event Information:

Looking ahead, afternoon temperatures are mild into mid-next week. No significant snow in the forecast.

Trail conditions:
The trails are currently ice, crusty ice, and glazed ice. They have opted to cease any grooming activities until next week, in the hopes that whatever they have left on the trails can be renovated enough to ski on.

Fast Trax Birkie Wax Clinic:

Fast Trax will be hosting one last Birkie Specific wax clinic leading up to the Birkie this Wednesday at 6:30pm at the shop. Sign up here to book a spot, only a few spots remain.

Fast Trax Birkie Wax Services:

Fast Trax has a Birkie Specific Glide wax service. For $25.00 have your skis glide waxed specific to the Birkie conditions. Drop your skis off the Tuesday February 9th between 10am-6pm and pick up Friday February 12th between 2pm-8pm. Sign up here to book a spot, only 34 spots remain.

Preliminary glide recommendations - classic & skate events:
Base layer - Rex RCF Black, Rex RCF Pink, Ski*Go LF Graphite, Swix LF4, etc. - this is a critical step to ensure durability and speed throughout the course of the entire race. You will want to put down the hardest wax possible for the first layer. Black, graphite based waxes, may be of extra help if there is no additional snowfall.

Race paraffin options - Given the extremely old and transformed nature of the snow, Holmenkol Speedbase Mid will be an amazing choice. This wax has the added benefit of having an extremely high flouro content and a very reasonable price. This will ensure speed not only at the beginning, but over the course of the entire race. Other good options could include Swix HF6BW or HF7BW. Standard, non-black, moderate temperature waxes could also be a good option, especially with a black underlayer.

Preliminary kick wax options - classic events:

Base binder options - If the kick ends up being klister, Vauhti K-base klister, Rode Chola, Swix KX20, Rex Blue and other base klisters will be good choices. If the kick ends up being hard wax, Vauhti Super Base or Vauhti K-base will be the best choices. 

Kick wax options
 - At the moment, it is very much looking like straight hardwax will not be a good option for kick. The trails are extremely abrasive and the snow is old. Hardwax that kicks well at first (if you can find any) is likely to wear off in the first few minutes, even with a base layer. 

Based on the current conditions of the trails and the fact that there is little/no snow in the forecast, it seems highly probable that the 2016 Birkie will be skied on klister or klister covered with hardwax. Straight klister options to consider would be a mixture of universal and violet klister or perhaps straight violet klister, depending on how conditions end up. Covered options could be a blue klister covered with the appropriate hardwax.

PowerGrip may also be an option with excellent kick and durability, although likely slower speed.

Please note that the kick wax options are VERY subject to change as we get closer to the event. 

Equipment recommendations:
Pole straps - Now would be a good time to inspect your pole straps to make sure they aren't any significant frays or tears. There is nothing worse than tearing a strap right at the start or, even worse, half way through the race. 

Bindings - Now would also be a good time to quickly inspect your bindings to ensure that everything appears tight and well in place.

Further updates:
Updates - We will be posting updates with increasing frequency as conditions change and as we approach the day of the race.