Racers were met with two inches of new snow at the start.
Straight cold HF waxes ran very fast for the first half. As commonly occurs, air and snow temps were warmer south of OO. Skiers with pure fluoros and a bit more structure tended to out-glide those with straight cold HF waxes in the later stages of the race.
Rode Super Blue kicked and glided very well. Sanded kick zone with spray klister as a binder and five layers of kick wax held for the full marathon. Later waves layered in Blue Extra to give kick since temps rose as they approached Rosie’s Field and Mosquito Brook in the southern half of the course.
Hardest. Birkie. Ever
17 inches of powder fell the Wednesday before the big race. This presented many challenges to the racers including slick roads getting to Hayward Thursday and Friday and getting the race start Saturday Morning. The large tent at the start collapsed and nearly everyone was late for their wave. Waxing not nearly as challenging as was the plowing our skis through the deep snow. Those with soft skis (like the Fischer S-Track or Salomon SG) and fine structures glided best through the deep snow. For glide wax, cold LF and HF ran as fast as anything.
With the deep snow, this was a year when skiers were happy they chose to race the Classic Birkie. The tracks were soft but not washed out. Nearly any blue or green wax like Swix VR30 or VR40 were kicking nicely. As always, sanding and ironing in a binder like Toko Greek Base were critical for creating a durable kick.
Many skiers say they’ve had their best Birkie on straight Rex Blue - this could have been one of those years. +15F and high moisture, greasy/fast snow made Rex Blue and waxes in the 12-28 temp ranges good choices. With high humidity and length of the race, pure fluoros gave significantly better glide, especially later in the race.
Because of the high moisture in the snow, choosing the right kick wax was a bit trickier for this Birkie. Blue wax (like Swix VR40) tended to kick well for the first half. But after OO skiers had to go to VR45 or Rode Multigrade Violet to get good purchase. Some were not getting kick in the start area and in a panic applied sticky waxes like Swix Special Red -- which they regretted later. Those that stayed with Violet or Violet covered with Blue had plenty of kick the entire race.
Three inches of fresh show from Tuesday was groomed into the existing base, creating a firm skate deck. LF5 topped with HF5 and a mid-range fluoro like Starts SFR92 ran well especially after skiers hit the warmer snow in the second half of the race.
It was what we describe as a Blue Extra day for classic skiing, perfect snow, a perfect track, and perfect temps for kicking and gliding through a beautiful forest. A formula for success for 2012 was a thin ironed-in coat of Toko Base Green topped with 5-6 layers of Swix Blue Extra. Great snow with great temps combined to make this a Birkie to remember.
During one of the coldest Birkies in our memory, there were quite a few cases of frostbite and pre-hypothermia. Aid station workers were kept busy monitoring skiers for signs of frostbite and were bringing them into heated tents to warm up. Some racers got back out on the trail and finished the race, while others chose to ride the bus to Hayward. As far as waxing, it was a fairly easy Birkie to prep for. Glide was simply Start MF10 (LF08) (for cold days like this consider using a cold wax zester
to apply hard waxes evenly while using a lower iron temperature. Scraped thin and brushed to a mirror-like finish.
For 2011 fresh, cold snow made getting kick easy. A binder like Toko base green applied very thin, covered by several layers of VR30 or a similar cold kick wax. Getting a good kick was not difficult. Getting decent glide and staying warm were the real challenges.
These Birkie wax selections are from the collective memories of Gear West staff members. We noticed the glide waxes that were selected tended to be slightly cooler than was suggested on the wax packaging. While people seemed to pick kick waxes a bit warmer than was recommended on the tins.
WAX A PALOOZA
Learn from the experts - what's new and what's tried and true in Cross Country Ski and Alpine waxing.
Wax demos by reps from the top wax companies.
New this year - a history of cross country skis by Brian Knutson.
How do you remember these Birkies?
Please share your memories in the comment area below.
-Posted by Speedy on Jan 27th 2016