Wednesday Evening Birkie Update

Jeff Tumbleson and I had a nice ski this afternoon.

Jeff Tumbleson and I had a nice ski this afternoon.

Today was an ideal day for skiing, and completely useless for any kind of testing for Saturday’s race. The forecasted cold overnight temperatures were surpassed (we woke up to -15F), and the daytime temps appeared to top out somewhere near 25F. Jeff Tumbleson gave me a tour of various road crossings in the early afternoon, and I was amazed at how cold and dry the snow was staying, even when the sun started feeling vaguely spring-like. I didn’t find packable snow anywhere I went along the course, all day long. We skied south of OO starting at about 3PM – looking for the warmest conditions that the day had to offer. Izzy had bomber kick on Rode -1/-7 for her Classic Birkie training session, and our coldest grinds were far superior to the warmer ones.

All that’s going to change starting during the day tomorrow with the arrival of a warm and wet airmass. The difficult part about this situation is that the snowpack is very refrigerated and quite dry, and although we’re confident that it’s going to rain, we have no idea how much. The course will only be groomed once prior to the race, and the underlayer (below the recently fallen and ungroomed powder) is pretty granular – not a lot of crystallinity to help it absorb moisture of set-up into a hard surface. I think there’s a good chance, with grooming likely to be happening at above freezing temps with no freeze prior to the race, that the course will become sort of “greasy” sugar after the first hundred or so skiers pass over it. It would sure be nice if it turned into a fast, hard, “packing” wet snow scenario, but I think that’s unlikely. There is still a chance that the rain will be fairly light on Friday, that the air will dry more than the forecast is predicting overnight prior to the race, and that it’ll all set-up to be cold and hard tracks with a nice, warm and pleasant race day. But I’m not betting on that scenario. I think the greasy sugar scenario is more likely!

I will tell you straight-up that we will absolutely be preparing multiple pairs of skis for our elite athletes, and testing early on race morning once we’ve seen the grooming. I can’t imagine we’d head to the start with fewer than three options for each of those racers. And Friday night might turn into Saturday morning without our crew seeing a whole lot of sleep. I’m having a hard time working myself into a state of high confidence, given the massive changes that snow will have to see over the next couple of days.

Tomorrow we will be testing paraffin base layers, race paraffins, and powders at the Birkie Ridge trail. We’ll set up around 1PM, aiming to test in the warming conditions through the afternoon. We’ll also be testing a lot of different race/demo skis and we’d be happy to visit with people out there, and put folks out on some skis to try. I think the specific race testing will still be relatively unhelpful because the snow will only just be starting to warm from overnight lows in the teens or single digits. But testing is always useful as background, and we’ll narrow our sights further on Friday!

Once again – we will make a very preliminary wax recommendation tomorrow evening.

Twitter Digg Delicious Stumbleupon Technorati Facebook Email

Comments are closed.