Friday, 10 February 2017

Birkie Wax Report - Evening Discussion

Birkie Wax Report - Evening Discussion

Grip Waxing:
  • Sand grip zone with 100 grit sandpaper, wipe clean. 
  • Heat in Vauhti Super Base, Swix VG35 or Vauhti K-Base with iron, cork smooth. 
  • Vauhti K15/K18 or GF Carrot
  • Ski*Go HF Violet
  • Swix VR45/VR40/VR30
Layering of kick:
Aim for 6-8 layers of wax in total depending on your skis and what you normally apply for layers.

Waxing for glide:
  • 4-6 layers being the full length of your wax pocket
    • 2-3 layers K15 or VR45 / 2-3 layers K18 or VR40 or 6 layers of SkiGo HF Violet
  • 1-2 layers being in your klister pocket
    • 1-2 layers of the K19 or VR30 or 2 layers of SkiGo HF Violet
Waxing for grip:
  • 6-8 layers being the full length of your wax pocket
    • 3-4 layers K15 or VR45 / 3-4 layers K18 or VR40 or 6-8 layers of SkiGo HF Violet
Birkie trail leading to the finish line!
Glide Waxing:

Base wax:
  • Swix LF4
Glide wax:
  • Holmenkol Racing Mix Cold
  • Vauhti LF or HF Green
  • Swix LF4 or HF4
Birkie warming huts awaiting your arrival!
Long live the Birkie!


Canadian Birkebeiner February 11, 2017

Wax recommendations sent out by Vaughn McGrath based on Expected Air Temperature for Feb. 11th 9 a.m. –8C   11 a.m.  -6C 1:30 p.m. -4C

Expected Snow Type: Mixed New &Old Fine Grain/ Some Ice & new snow Humidity: 75%

The following wax recommendations are suggested by the Swix Wax Team based on the current weather forecast for for Feb 11th and observations of fresh groomed ski tracks on February 9th.  The ski trails are to be groomed Thursday and Friday but there is a chance of a few cm of fresh to be in the tracks at start time.

NOTE: Your final wax selection will need to be based on final weather conditions at the time of your event, your skiing style and your experience with your skis.

The basic steps to preparation of your skis for the event are:
1) Clean the old kick wax off your skis using base cleaner
2) Glide wax your skis
3) Apply base binder
3) Apply kick wax
Birkie Trails nearing finish line.
SKI SELECTION & STRUCTURE:  Medium Stone ground skis: Medium structure. Use hand structure on stone ground skis for better glide.  Swix Structure Tool: .75 mm linear structure (imprint roller that gives linear structure) or T0401 .75 mm linear

GLIDE:  Option 1 – EASY
1. Iron in LF6X (alternative CH6X). Let cool off. Iron in once more and let cool off. Scrape off with a Swix Plexi Scraper, and brush with a Swix Medium Bronze or Fine Steel Brush.
2. Finish with the Blue Nylon Polish Brush.

Base Prep: Start with a light brush with a steel brush or bronze brush. Wipe clean with Fiberlene. Clean/condition skis with Swix Fluror Glide Cleaner (apply cleaner, brush cleaner on base, wipe clean) Let stand to dry off for 3 minutes.  Next Iron in (apply) a layer of Swix HF4X (or LF4X) , cool a few minutes, Scrape & brush with Medium Bronze or Fine Steel brush.

Race Wax
1. Iron in one layer of HF6X  ( HF6BWX Black) (alternatives DHF104  White Marathon  or DHF104BW Black Marathon )  Let cool off. Iron in once more and let cool off. Scrape off with a Swix Plexi Scraper, and brush with a Swix Bronze or Steel Brush.
2. Apply Cera F FC6X (or FC78) with an iron temperature of approx. 165°C. Make one continuous pass with the iron with a constant pressure – take one side of the groove at the time. Let cool approx. 10 min. Brush the powder away with a nylon and then a horsehair- or wild boar brush.   Finish with the Blue Nylon Polish Brush.

1. Sand (rub) the grip zone area with #100 or #150 grit silicon sandpaper.
2. Apply VG 35 base binder, apply 3-4 dabs of  KX20 Green Base klister on top.    Iron in, the 2 together and then cork smooth (2nd alternative: spray on a layer of KB20 green base klister, cork smooth)  Let dry 10 min or longer  (Note: for the short distances of 2.5km, 4km, 13 km skiers may just use VG 35 base binder(iron in VG 35 after apply it)
3. Apply a layer of V40 Extra Blue hard kick wax on top of base binder.  cork lightly so smooth . Apply a 2nd layer of V40.   Let kick wax cool off outside.
4. Apply 3 layers of VR45 (or V45) Special Violet kick/grip wax, cooking lightly so smooth between layers. Let sit/cool off 5 min.
5. Finish with  2-3 layers of VR 40 (or V 30) at cool temperatures of 0C or colder

Final Swix Wax recommendations will be available at the Birke Fair after the Swix Tech Team does some skiing and testing on the groomed and trackset Birke trails this afternoon.

 Note: if the temperature becomes warmer, than the expected weather forecast we have provided, we recommend, add 1-3 thin layers of warmer grip wax. This is likely most applicable for those who start later in the day on Feb. 11th.  We suggest to wait to the day of the Birke to make this decision.

Take on your Birke ski -VR 40, VR 45, VR50, (or V40, V45, V50)  a cork & a scrapper to remove any stick, leaves etc. that might stick to your wax or if your skis ice up

Come see the Swix Wax Team at the Swix table at the Birkebeiner 2017 Nordic Fair or at the Event Start Area for updated waxing information

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Preliminary Birkie Wax Discussion #2 - Glide

There seems to be a consensus forming that the Birkie trails could see some snow Friday night. Overnight low will be in the range of -11C with the daytime high rising to around +1C on Saturday.

Bear in mind that the daytime high won't hit until around 2:00 p.m. on Saturday... more on that below.
Photo courtesy of the Birkie facebook page.
Trail Conditions
Current reports on trail conditions are varied. A summary of the most recent updates is as follows:
  • Hard, frozen tracks
  • Best conditions in a while
  • Firm & nice
So the bits of recent snowfall east of Edmonton seem to have accumulated into some coverage. Additionally, I know that the volunteers have been out on the trails working on snow farming. So coverage should be adequate.

We understand that grooming will take place on Friday morning. A best guess is that the grooming will pull up lots of the old, granular snow and mix it in with the fresh that will have accumulated.
Photo courtesy of the Birkie facebook page.
Glide Wax
Although the daytime high is relatively warm on race day, don't be fooled into using a warm glide wax. It has been cold all week... really cold! And with a chilly morning low on race day and minimal solar effect from the sun (it is early February, after all), the snow will not warm significantly.

Additionally, although there has been great work with respect to snow farming, as well as some fresh accumulation, expect that the grooming will pull up lots of older, granular snow.

Based on this, we continue to recommend a hard initial underlayer, followed by a hard layer of race wax. Options to consider would include:

  • Swix LF4 (or other hard green glide wax)
  • Rex RCF Pink
  • SkiGo LF Graphite
  • Solda S30
  • SkiGo C380
Race wax (HF options will continue to provide an advantage)
  • Holmenkol Speedbase Cold
  • Holmenkol Racing Mix Cold
  • Rex HF31
  • Toko HF blue
  • Swix HF4
As you can see, we are recommending colder, harder options as the best choice.

Further Testing and Posting
We will be onsite at the Brikie trails early Friday morning doing final testing. This will include both grip and glide and we will plan to post an update before lunchtime on Friday.

Long live the Birkie!

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Official Birkie Trail Report

OFFICIAL Birkie Trail Report from Dave Cooper - February 2nd, 2017
The following is the official trail report from Dave Cooper, the Birkie sponsorship director, who just sent out the following email.

Birkie Classic Event
"Despite icy conditions at Waskehagen, our latest plan for revised routes will allow us to run the full 55 km and 31 km (classic style) events".

"This weekend we will begin snow farming and tracking of lightly used trails and setting new tracks in areas with good snow that have never been skied this year, primarily in the northeast area and some fence-line areas. We will avoid the current heavily used and icy trails, such as Lost Lake".

"So the Birkie is a go, and the skiing will be much better for participants than they would imagine if they have only skied the trails around Waskehagen".

Birkie Skate Event
"The trail was ruined by horses. And there is little snow up there".

"All registrants can switch to another event, or take a refund".

"Our focus is to get the long classic courses on good snow. And we are working on that. Rerouting has been mapped and we have machines working on it this weekend and early next week"

More to follow as reports become available.

Long live the Birkie!

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Updated Birkie Wax Options

Fast Trax Birkie Wax Options
We will be offering the following three options for this years Birkie;
  1. In Shop Wax Services
  2. Birkie Fair Waxing
  3. Detailed information on our Shop Blog
Note: Skate event for this years Birkie has been cancelled - More Information

Option #1 - Fast Trax In Shop Services
Birkie Specific Glide Wax and Base Binder.

We offer waxing services for the Birkie and can be booked through our ONLINE SHOP by selecting our Birkie Specific Wax Service.
  • Birkie specific glide wax - $25
    • Base glide wax to harden base.
    • Glide wax specific to the conditions.
    • Grip zone sanded and base bindered.
Drop off your skis at the shop on Tuesday, February 7th between the hours of 10am - 6pm and pick them up Friday February 10th between 2pm - 6pm.

When you drop off your skis we can double check and re-mark your wax pocket, which is especially to account for the extra weight if you are doing the Birkie with a pack. Once we have your skis, we will do one layer of wax to harden the base and then - after testing glide waxes and base binders - we will apply the best glide wax and base binder specific to your event.

When you have picked up your skis from the shop on the Friday you can check the shop blog for grip wax recommendations and apply your grip that evening or the morning of the event or stop by the Birkie Fair with donation to the ENSC.

Option #2 - Fast Trax Birkie Fair Options
Fast Trax has teamed up with the ENSC and UofA Nordic as a fundraising event to provide grip and glide wax services at the Birkie Fair on Friday February 10th between 12-7pm with a minimum cash donation of $10 made directly to the teams.
  • Grip wax donations would be donated to the ENSC and the glide wax donations would be donated to UofA Nordic.
Ulf Kleppe of the ENSC  will be providing the grip wax advice and services and Keegan Brooks of Master Wax will be providing the glide wax advice and services for UofA Nordic. Michael Kennedy of UofA Nordic will be out that morning to test wax and provide guidance to the Birkie Fair waxing team.

Stop by the Fast Trax booth say hi, ask any questions you might have and if you want, have your skis waxed with a donation too two great ski clubs.

Note: We will not have any wax for sale at the Birkie Fair, if in need of wax we suggest stopping by the shop.

Option #3 - Fast Trax Blog Updates
On the blog front, Patrick will be making a glide wax post on the Wednesday February 8th and will then do a follow up post on Friday February 10th with any new information regarding grip and glide for those who cannot make the Birkie Fair.

Hope this helps, long live the Birkie!

Unofficial Birkie Trail Report

UNOFFICIAL Birkie Trail Report from Bjorn Taylor - February 1, 2017

The following is a unofficial trail report from Bjorn Taylor who just returned from a tour of the Birkie ski trails. We will post more as information becomes available.

"I just got back from a Birkie trail tour and discussion with Parks staff. Bottom line is that they have just enough snow on some trails and are planning on going ahead with the event, with a few modifications":

  • "They will not use the normal trail route, as the trails around Islet Lake and south of Central are not useable. Most likely, the race will be on trails in the NE sector of the Cooking Lake – Blackfoot Recreational Area. They are still aiming for a 55km and a 31km, or as close as possible".
  • "No skate ski event – the trails they had for the skate route are not feasible to groom or ski at this point" - (This is unofficial at this point)

"I skied today, both on a section they have renovated and set track, and on trails that were set a few weeks ago. The renovated / trackset trails are a real mixed bag, with some sections pretty good on crushed granular (ranging from medium to coarse to ice chunks) – but it is thin, and there are rough sections where grass / leaves prevail".

"We’ve had about 3-4cm snow from yesterday to today, and it’s still coming down, so when they renovate the rest of the trails and mix in the fresh snow, it should be better. On the non-groomed trails, the fresh snow has filled the tracks, and there is definitely an icy layer at the bottom".

"I talked to the trail guys, and we are going to try and get one of our machines and operators there next week to help out. This takes some of the pressure and time constraints off, and should result in a better track".

More to follow as reports become available.

Long live the Birkie!

Saturday, 14 January 2017

Local Trail Reports

The following is list of trail reports from local skiers who have been out on the trails.

Goldbar / Capilano Park
"I skied at Capilano today and it is in excellent shape; the best it has been all year with a deep classic track! So, both CL and SK is excellent! The Goldbar trials have been blown in quite a bit, especially the more open and exposed sections near the Pavilion and around the lake. Woodcutters has quite a bit of debris but the larger, blown down branches and twigs have been removed. A track has been set but it is shallow. Retaining Wall and 50th Street has a good track. All of the Goldbar trail has a recently renovated skate lane. As such, skating in all of Goldbar is quite good but be watchful when skiing Woodcutters. 

I didn't ski up Esso Hill but it is renovated as is most of Goldstick. It is suitable for skating as the cover is thin, but has some skied in tracks as well."

As reported by Ulf Kleppe on January 9th 

Blackfoot Recreational Area

"Today at Islet Lake, Blackfoot. Conditions don't get much better than this."

Posted by Julia Keenliside to ENSC Facebook on January 16th:

"We skied today up to Hare. The tracksetter was out working. When we stopped to talk to him, he said he was tracking all the way to Blackfoot staging area, including Winter and Wapiti trails. Conditions were good after they were track set.  The tracksetter was using the Gater with a pull behind track setting sled. He said this unit should be equipped with a GPS tracker in the next week, which means the real time website that shows track setting status should be more up to date. He also said we need quite a bit more snow before Prince Haaken (the piston bully track setter) can be used."

As seen on Facebook on January 9th 

Strathcona Wilderness Centre

"The base is starting to firm up nicely, although with only 6-8 cm to work with, we are still not able to set full depth classic tracks; however, the tracks are setting up nicely, and should remain intact for the most part. Watch for some tree debris and thin spots, particularly on corners and hills."

As reported by Bjorn Taylor on January 9th

Drayton Valley

"Pembina Nordic Ski Club hosted the 4th annual Eagle Point Loppet yesterday (Jan 14). The temperature stayed in the single digits (below zero, that is) making for a very "nice and comfortable" racing conditions! Only 1.5 hours south and east of Edmonton it is worth the drive. They have more snow than we do and have done an excellent job of converting this into very agreeable ski conditions; the grooming has been excellent!

The entire 13km trail network was used in the loppet. From the centrally located chalet the trails extend both east and west. The west trail is very forgiving, well most of it, and is gently undulating, wide enough for both skate and classic, and winds along the top bank of, and overlooking, the North Saskatchewan River. For those who want to have a closer look at the River,  you can choose to dive down the extension loop at the very west end of this trail...but remember, what goes (sharply) down must come up! 

The East loop starts off easy enough, gently down actually, and then drops almost to river level before heading slowly and steadily up. The North East loop is ideal for long steady diagonal striding! And some fun, turny downhills...and then a steady flat, false flat, section before, well, you climb a wall back up to the chalet! 

The trails are fun, challenging, and, depending on what you are looking for, has something for everyone. They have lots of snow, the grooming is excellent and is done often, the entire trail network is suitable for both skate and classic; the drive is well worth it!!"

As reported by Ulf Kleppe on January 15th 

More reports to follow as they become available.