Reviews - Skin Skis at the Birkie

Posted by Tony Mommsen on Mar 29th 2016


RACER REVIEWS Below you will find unedited comments from Birkie racers who used skin skis. Our take on skin skis at the 2016 BirkieDid you ski the Birkie or Korte on skin skis?  Email your comments to -

I skied in Wave 2 on a pair of Salomon RC skins, 206cm Medium Hard. Like others, I had poor kick after about 10km. I tested them the day before (a.m. with hard, possibly frozen tracks) at Telemark and of our group, mine easily had the best kick and fairly good glide, and we brought a lot of skis to test including RCS crowns, another guy on Skin RCs and various waxables with klister. However, race day was not hard - it was soft and wet. I think the wetness killed the skins more than the softness. I found better kick in the left track (fewer skiers) and moved to the right track for the flats and downhills. Skied the same skis today where it was just slightly below freezing, but also pretty soft and kick was amazing again.


As a nod to ski fit, my buddy has Skin RC same length and medium hard stiffness, but he outweighs me by 30lbs (I am 190). When we swap skis, I can't set his properly and he finds mine slow because he has more skin dragging when he is on my softer (but theoretically identical) skis. His fit him, mine fit me, but only because a skilled fitter selected each pair with the skier in mind.

My time was 4h32.



I was in wave 7 because I was well over an hour for the last one I did two years ago when we had the big storm and it was line to line timing (not chip).

So,  this means that many of the people around me had fish scale skis and were relatively new skiers.   Also,  according to my watch,  I spent about 35 minutes of my Korte time waiting for struggling skiers either at the bottom or hills or the single file wait at the top of hills.  There were hills that I would have normally hopped up that I ended up herringboning up  tip to tail in line with other skiers.

I used the Atomic skintechs with the thin strip mohairs.   I have the wider mohair with me but I've only used them once and found them to be way too grabby in all conditions for me.  

I had a klister ski ready to go and the skintechs.    Decided on the skintechs at the last minute and I'm glad I did.    People with klister immediately had problems with a lot of bare spots as the klister glued up everything possible.   I saw people on the side with scrapers trying to get crud off of their klister.

Good grip for the whole race.   Definitely faster than the fish scale skiers that I could hear around me (I could hear the scale sound)

I put a good coat of the silicone repellent on the mohair which prevented any significant ice up that I was aware of.  No problems with that.

If there was any way to make the mohair strip a little shorter both on the heel and toe they would still have plenty of grip and would be faster for me.

the biggest problem I thought was all of the bare spots and roots stickiing out.   If you caught the mohair strip on one with your weight on the ski,  you were toast.

At the finish,  pretty much all of the classic skiers around me had some brand version of skins on their feet.   I didn't see anybody with klister that was happy with it and the skiers with fish scale skiers that I met were pretty spent after their effort.


I found your comments quite interesting about using skin skis at the recent Birkie.  I was really perplexed at how poorly mine worked and was relieved to see this was a common problem.  I skied the 55 km race and started in the 4th wave.  I noticed my kick was essentially absent after about 10 km.  When there was any slight uphill I had to get out of the tracks to get purchase.  This worked but was really slow and tiring.  This continued for the rest of the race except for better grip going across the slushy lake.  My time was about one hour longer than usual for me.  I applied the Atomic Skintec liquid to my skintecs before the race and did not reapply during the race.


Skied the Birkie Classic on 2015-2016 Atomic Redster Skintec. Wave 3. Time: 5:18

Started by using the full skin which was pre-treated with Toko Yellow parrafin. Grip was excellent and glide was very good for the first 10-12km. Glide diminished before grip, with both becoming nonexistent by OO. I was able to swap skins at OO and used the partial skins, which worked pretty well for the next 5-7km. Glide continued to diminish, and discovered small globs of kick wax/klister had collected on my glide zones after the race. Kick also became nearly impossible by Mosquito Brook and I had to go out of the glazed track for any grip on hills. I think the future success of the skintec on glazed tracks hinges on the best anti-icing agent. I am curious on reports using traditional "fishscale" classic skis.


i used Skintecs from the first wave and had my worst race in 35 starts. They lost all kick after 3-4 km. Glide was ok, and not the problem. I had applied the Atomic skin treatment the day before when skiing a couple of km to test them, but didn't think I needed to use it again the next day. They were on the stiff side for my weight, and I admit that I had the bindings back to optimize glide, which had been the best position in the past. My technique and fitness should not have been the problem. Have used them since in similar conditions but have prepped them with Fast Wax Slick Pro Warm, which has worked quite well to maintain kick.


I skied on Rossi R-Skins.  The week before the race, I removed the middle 1cm of hair from the skins, in hopes of improving the glide. In previous ski sessions I had found them quite draggy, but with the mod they much improved.  During testing on Thursday and Friday, I had great grip and decent glide on the skins, and being unable to test wax on the actual trail, I decided to race on them.  I prepped the skins with

Vauhti FC Anti-Ice, which a teammate of mine picked up for me at the World Masters in Vuokatti.

I have very good kick throughout the entire race.  Towards the end I had to work more for the kick, but that could just be due to fatigue as much as anything else. Glide was also quite good, and I could count on one hand the number of people with significantly faster skis than me.

When I got on the lake and saw the puddles, I thought I was cooked. I was sure the skis would not kick at all in those conditions.  Much to my surprise, I was able to kick double pole effectively in the tracks across the entire lake, passing several people in the process.  Even though they were full of water, I found the tracks faster than the loose snow/slush out of the tracks.

Korte bib 16868  2hrs 37 min
I used Madshus Intelligrip
Decent for the first 10k, then I sort of skateboarded my way to the finish. One ski in the track, the other outside to kick. It worked for me. I did use a cheap anti-ice treatment on the kick zone and my best guess it worn off at that point. Other folks I talked to that had good “skin kick” used either a warm fluoro rubbed into the kick zone or a high fluoro spray, I forgot the name of that product, though I recalled it was a small bottle at $75.00. These people did the Birkie, not the Korte.

I appreciate the good info about these types of ski’s on your web site. Just bought a pair of Atomic “warm” World Cup’s on sale at Gear West and the service was great and the person really took their time on the fit.



I used the Skin's and conditions on the Korte trail limited double polling, but climbing was very good, third in age for 65-69 yr olds, Charles Carlson from Rockton, IL



I tested my Fischer Speed Max w/ Start red grip tape and my Atomic Skin Tecs w/ the two strip insert before the race. Both pairs were fitted by Brian and Matt L.

I treated my Skin Tecs w/ SWIX anti- icing spray.

Both pairs kicked (on flat ground near the start). However I decided to go w/ the Skin Tecs.

I started in Wave 4. I felt that the skis kicked OK, not bad, not great. They didn't glide as fast as my Fischers or a number of people on the course. I used Start SG, MF purple w/ Rex TK 244 and a hand structure.

I would always fault my technique before my skis, especially later in the race. I finished in 2:15.



Wave 3 skier: kick was OK (not great, but serviceable) at first, and deteriorated as the tracks glazed more, and the course became wetter. I was able to get more kick on the skate deck.
I switched to the Original Atomic Skin tecs at OO.  My Guru Red klister, as recommended by BNS, did not work at all, though it started to get a bit better by OO
I had applied Toko Express 2.0 (Silicone I think) to the skins the night before. I immediately had great kick, especially out of the track.  In fact I skied 90% of the race out of the track.  I had great glide out of the track as well, Not as good in the track.  The grip lasted for about 10-12 K and then started to fade but so did my technique.  I had great grip in the pure slush on the lake and better technique on main street helped the kick.
The skins were amazingly clean after the race, probably due to not skiing in the track.  I had always had control problems with the Skin Tecs out of the track until I bought the S-Lab Ski-Athlon boots from Gear West.  They were fantastic on the downhills and corners.  I’m never going back to regular classic boots.  They solved the control problems with the skins
I just saw this article. I realize it's a couple weeks old, but I thought I'd chime in.  I used Atomic Skintecs at the Birkie. I'm a wave 5 skier, but this was my 5th Birkie, so I've been around the block. 
I had a terrible experience with my Skintecs. I had some kick to start, but it was gone by the time I hit the power lines. I have older Skintecs and used the double strip of mohair insert, but was kicking myself for not trying to bring the wide insert. I even used Start Anti-Ice on them. I can usually do the Birkie in 5.5 hours, but this year was 6:50. Ugh. The best kick I had was in the watery tracks on the lake. I ran into a number of people on the trail who had Skintecs and were having the same terrible experience I was. Not the ticket that day.  I really wanted to quit at OO, but I stuck it out and finished. 
Thank you so much for posting this article. It makes me realize that it wasn't entirely my fault that it took so long (although, certainly my technique and ski fit could shoulder some blame). 
Also, will you be having an end of season wax sale?
I almost forgot!  When I got home and cleaned my skis, I cleaned the Mohair, and there was a layer of klister covering the first few inches of the skin insert. I didn't use klister, obviously, so I must have picked it up on the trail. It seemed to have caused the hairs to become matted down. I'm not sure that this was a huge problem, but it seemed to be. 
Thank you for the great article. I used Atomic Skintecs at the Birke this year and was very disappointed.  I had used them in 2013 and had one of my best races ever. This year the only place I had any kick at all was at the end on the lake, they were awesome in the slush for some reason. 
I was in wave 4 both years so tracks were pretty worn by the time I started. I also used the inserts with two strips which worked great in 2013 but was probably a mistake this year. On the downhills, the glide was pretty good though. I ski a lot but am very average, my 6 hr. finish was about 45 minutes slower than any of my previous times, this was the 5th Birke. 
Thanks again for all the information!
Is it too late for this...I had no kick; out of the track I had kick but no glide. The last 10K I had essentially no kick anywhere. I know my skis fit; the glide wax was right, the skis were rilled. I was surprised because I tested them pre race and they seemed to work. Actually I was shocked.
I finished the Kortie in 2:28...23 min slower than last year. Oh; I was in wave 2 and am 70.
I skied the Korte Classic on my Salomon Skins.  I treated them with the Start anti-ice spray.  I did not have good kick at all.  It was a little better after the Korte trail split off from the Birkie trail, but still was not very good.  They were better if I skied up the hill out of the track, but I still found myself running up the hill with a narrow herringbone and double poling whenever I could.  The glide, however, was good and I think mostly made up for the lousy kick as I managed a 3rd place in my age class.
I was in the 5th wave.  I had no kick for 35 miles, and thought it was just me.  Fun!  This information on skin skis used for the 2016 Birkie is very helpful for someone  who will be in wave 70 in 2017.  Thank you.

--------- below comments and entries for Gear West’s Skin Skis at the Birkie contest (also from the 2016 Birkie/Korte) -----------



Time 4:37 -- Atomic skinTec



Raced the Birkie on Fischer Twin Skins and they were great. 3:47:11.7


I just heard about the Birkie Skin Challenge, and thought I'd see if I have a chance at it. time of 4:11, bib number 12304.


On my Atomic skin skis I purchased last fall (and wonderfully fitted by Brian K), I won my age group (60-64) in 1:53.and few seconds.  And also won the 24k Classic on them yesterday at the River View Loppet in Brule (w/super slushy conditions).  Both races wearing my Gear West team race suit!


I am entering my time for the Korte skied on Rossignol skins.  I am sure I was not the first, since my time wasn’t that fast, but maybe I would qualify for the oldest, at least I was first in my age group. time 2:04:44.5

by the way, I did not find anyone on skin skis that was happy with their choice for the conditions.  Mine only worked after our course parted from the Birkie skiers.


Rossignol Skins. Used anti-ice spray before the start. Worked great the first 30-32 km.  They were slower than guys around me after that.  When we would jump out of the track onto the skate deck in spots, I had a tough time controlling them.  They seemed to slide all over the place.  On the lake I had excellent kick!


I used a pair of my wife’s skin tecs for the birkie.  Really like the skis, we often ski around La Crosse and Black River Falls, Wisconsin.  Often the temps are a little warmer and leaves are frequently on the trails where we ski.  


I used the skin tecs for the birkie but really had trouble getting any grip on the tracks.  Often I had to ski outside the tracks to get any kick.  I think the problem was that the tracks were just too icy for the skins.


I ended up having a poor race (5:08 - which is an hour slower than my slowest birkie).   Despite that, I will probably get a pair for myself as they seem to work well in almost all other conditions.


I would be interested if other people had the same experience.


Don't know if I qualify... I skied the race on zeros. They're hairy on the bottom! My time was 3:02:30 (bib 347).

(No - you do not qualify)


Korte Classic -- 1:43


My bib # is 35032, my time was a pathetic 6:16:35

I skied the Korte classic on Atomic Skin tecs. M my time 2:24:06. I had great kick and pretty good glide, although draggy. Any suggestions? Thanks.

Korte classic Salomon Equipe



Fisher twin skins, kick rocked the whole time, glide not so much…

Time: 3:32:20


Korte Classic


I did the kortie classic in 2:02:19 on fischer race skins......decent kick and great glide

My husband used skin Rossis he started in wave 4 he got 5:27 he said they were good for 15 k then thinks they got too wet

-Posted by Tony Mommsen on Mar 29th 2016