Volume 15 Issue 46: March 13, 2014
We answer your skiing questions email us 
Subscribe Here                    Old Issues Archived Here
Ask us, We Answer

Do you have a Nordic training, technique, equipment, travel, or event question? Just email us at 


For the past 2 years, I have cramped up around 35k into the Birkie. After last year's experience, I really tried to increase my salt content the week before the Birkie and made sure I had at least 2 drinks at each waterstop and ate plenty of food (several mini snickers bars as well as bananas etc). But again 35k in and the cramping started, making it very difficult to pole.

Is it just a matter of going that far? Or perhaps technique (perhaps I'm using my arms too much as my triceps seem to take the brunt of it). My other thought is the increase in duck walking up the hills in the Birkie (snow conditions and just a lot of people) which I try not to do in training.

I did some googeling, and it seems some of the elite athletes fall prey to tricep cramping as well, so perhaps it's just par for the course. But I figured, I might as well see if you had any thoughts.


Boulder, CO




Cramping is never fun, and can quickly ruin a race.  Once you hit that point, it can be very hard to bring your body back under control before the race is over.  The key is to prepare ahead of time to prevent the cramps from happening in the first place.  It seems like you have taken considerable care already in doing research and working to keep your muscles healthy, but even the best laid plans...

Cramping usually happens from dehydration and a lack of electrolytes.  Your muscles communicate and engage through electrical firing of your neurons.  When you work hard, you sweat many of the same electrolytes that your body uses for this electrical communication.  Thus, one of the best ways to prevent cramping is hydration and electrolyte consumption. I saw that you were taking several drinks during the Birkie, but were they water or sports drink? Water is important, sports drink is better.  It is designed to refill those little ions lost through sweat. Bananas will help with the Potassium, but can be hard to absorb when your body is so calorie deficient from racing. The best way to combat cramping is a good sports drink or even a goo of some kind, which are specifically designed to replace the lost electrolytes.  Drink early, and drink often.  I've never heard of someone over-hydrating!

There are a couple other things to consider. First, the excess salt for a week leading into the race may have inadvertently had the opposite effect. Without extra water to balance the salt intake, your body senses a high salt content, flushes out the salt, and leaves you extra dehydrated before you begin. Second, technique absolutely plays an effect.  Make sure you are finding time in your arm swing to relax the muscles, giving them a fraction of a second to relax, for blood to flow in and out, and for the nutrients to adequately arrive to your muscles.  Really think about swinging those arms from the shoulder, down, then forward.  Good arm swing will also help send momentum down the track as well as pushing blood down to your extremities.  Finally, there is an issue with arm strength.  Triceps are very small muscles that Nordic skiers tend to use much more than the average athlete.  You are putting a tremendous amount of energy and force into them.  Strength training is a must for cross country skiers because it gives smaller muscles, like the tricep, better bulk and blood flow for handling the extra load. Before your next Birkie, consider going to the gym once a week for several months leading into the race.  Focus on your arms with dips, pushups, and pullups if you can. Be creative, have fun, and train those muscles to work a little harder.

While cramping does happen in races, it should not be a common thing. My guess is to focus on better hydration.  You can always hydrate better, and cramping is 90% a result of poor hydration. Relaxing in your technique and arm strength are a couple options to help as well.  The important thing in any race is to have fun, and anything to avoid a lightening spasm in the arm will just make it more fun!

Good luck next year!

Michael Sinnott

Sun Valley SEF Gold Team



Which Brush?

OK SkiPost Which wax brush do you use when? 
Signed,  Dazed and confused.

This is what Start suggests: 

#1 Brush -  Copper Brush 05023
Start recommends using our Copper brush just before you wax and then again as your first brush for removing wax. Start's extra soft copper bristles are soft (yet durable especially with their large brush surface) so you can not over-brush. It removes just enough wax but not too much like some steel or bronze brushes can. 
#2 Brush - Hard Nylon Finishing Brush 05017
Finish with good polish with our Hard Nylon Finishing Brush.
Extra stiff bristles and extra large brush lets you polish even Start Green with ease.
All Start brushes are extra large and extra durable.  These are the two brushes you need. You can add more as you refine your craft, but there are the two brushes we recommend every waxer have. 
Andy at SkiPost-Start   

Individual vs Mass Start

What is considered the better test of an athlete,Individual or Mass Start?

To start, there is a huge difference in mass start vs individual start racing, just as is true in bike racing.  Bike racing is predominantly mass start, but they have the occasional TT as well.  Nordic skiing is the opposite, favoring the individual start format.  Traditionally the longer distances, 30 or 50km are mass start while the 10 and 15 are individual.  Obviously, these are not iron clad rules, and there is some cross over as well.  That being said, its hard to tease out some of the differences between a mass start and an individual because there are such a multitude of  variables.  Course, conditions, technique, weather, skis, and wax are just a few examples of the extra components when comparing races.  There is no great systematic way of viewing one compared to the next, because often times other attributes compound the success of an athlete in any given race.  It is far and away the most complicated of sports. 

That being said, there are a few things you can expect to be true for a successful racer in mass vs indiv race formats.  Individual racing formats are much less tactical and more often than not bring out the most fit athlete, the athlete who can close his eyes and push.  There are advantages from racing later in the start order, learning what your competitors have done on course is a powerful motivational tool.  Skiers who are better technical skiers often excel here because they know how to "find seconds" in transitions and corners and tough parts on the course.  Mass starts, on the other hand, are considerably more tactical.  They have become more and more very tight races with large groups still together at the end.  Racers with a strong finish will wait for their opportunity and keep the pace low.  Those without the sprint ability will try to push sooner.  It is considerably harder to drop people when they are right on your tail, as per a draft and the mental boost of having a rabbit, and thus a racer will be less willing to push themselves and risk losing energy without reward.  There are ski exchanges at the elite level, feed zones, and several other tactical amendments which offer chances to break things up, but often the race stays together until the end.  Being longer (usually) the races also tend to favor older racers, and the pace stays lower, keeping things together for longer. There are too many ridiculously fit people who can stay together.  For the last 7 year or so, Petter Northug Jr has been a dominant feature at the elite level in absolutely dominating a field sprint.  Thus, we have seen much more aggressive tactics trying to sweat him off the pack earlier in the race.  It has rarely worked, because quite simply, its easier to follow than to lead.

In summary, you see the best athletes succeed at both mass start and individual start races.  Generally the technical masters will find dominance in individual races, and more tactical racers with a strong kick will find success in the mass start.  However, both will tease out a mentally tough, fit racer.

All the Best

Michael Sinnott


Kick Wax Durability

Hi Andy;


The last 3 citizen's races I've done here in New England have been on very old abrasive snow which had probably been run through the pisten bully countless times.   So, each time by about 10-12 kilometers into the race my kick wax was pretty much gone.  When I looked at the skis afterwards there was just alittle of the VG35 basebinder left.  Any ideas on how to deal with this problem? 


First, let me eliminate a few variables.  The skis were thoroughly prepped beforehand in a controlled environment.  The kick zone was thoroughly cleaned, lightly sanded, and cleaned again.  Then the VG35 basebinder was ironed in.  Next I applied 5 layers of blue kick wax - thoroughly corking in each layer.  The skis were perfect at the start - and more or less useless at the finish.   I wonder if klister would be a more effective basebinder? Any suggestions? Keep up the good work;



Hi RV,

You came to the right place these difficult conditions are a specialty for Start wax. Abrasive conditions can be tricky because you are in between when hard wax provides optimal kick and glide but is not as durable as klister that may be too draggy.

First thing first it is important to remember that not all binders are created equal. Everyone has a binder that can be effective in new snow when snow is not abrasive however it is less common to find one that works in abrasive snow short of using klister binder.

Start offers two binders for different conditions. Base Wax for regular snow and Base Wax Extra for abrasive conditions. Base Wax Extra has blue klister added to it which increase it's durability. Vauhti also makes a similar wax for these type of conditions. We recommend Base Wax Extra over klister for it's superior glide properties.

Second you need a more durable kick wax than your typical synthetic or synthetic fluor waxes. These kickers are going to be stripped from the ski too quickly and leave you with nothing but binder. We have two waxes for these conditions. Oslo Racing Kick and RF Kick wax. Oslo is a wax for variable conditions where you may be skiing in a mix of old, new, or icy conditions. We have been finding that Oslo wax often outperforms ours and other waxes in a multitude of conditions because of it's versatility. Oslo is 1 part klister and 2 parts hard wax. This can be scary to some that think it may be draggy but skiing is believing and if you haven't tried this wax yet you need to.

For granular conditions when artificial snow has lost moisture and has become small chunks of ice we recommend RF kick wax over a klister binder. RF kick has thermoplastic properties that allow it to be very sticky and elastic on the under layers and hard on the outside providing superior glide and grip. For klister selection we recommend using a thin klister binder that coincides with the RF color kick. For RF blue use blue klister, for red and violet RF use violet klister.

I hope this answers your questions and keep the kick where it belongs on your skis.

Evan Pengelly

Product Manager Start America

Junior Nationals Video
2014 USSA Junior National Championships-Recap
2014 USSA Junior National Cross Country Ski Championships-Recap

A recap of the 2014, Stowe, Vermont, Nordic Junior Nationals Video made by Skyler Mullings and Julia Kern. See everyone next year...






The world's best cross-country skier Marit Bjørgen has signed a 4-year contract with the Swedish functional sportswear brand Craft. The freshly signed contract means that the Norwegian superstar will use Craft's training and racing clothes as of May 2014 until the 2018 Olympics in South Korea.


"I have always paid great attention to the quality of the equipment I use," says Marit Bjørgen. "So when choosing a new provider of training and racing clothes it was important for me to choose a partner I could trust and that has the quality required to perform optimally. It's no accident that my choice fell on Craft. In order for me to continue winning ski races, I must work out with the best, be on the best team and have the best training and racing clothes."


Craft is of course very pleased with signing the world's best cross-country skier.  "We are very proud to have reached this agreement, and I must admit that I am very happy that Marit has shown this trust in us. That she has chosen us because of our product quality proves that we are doing a good job. At the same time, I am incredibly impressed with Marit's professional attitude," says Anders Corwin Bristol, a very satisfied sales and marketing director at Craft Norway.



Over the last years Marit has trained closely together with Swedish star Charlotte Kalla, who is also part of Craft's cross-country skiing campaign. During this time the two skiers have exchanged experiences regarding training and equipment, and there is no doubt that Marit has been influenced in her choice of a new provider.


"Charlotte has shown me a lot of the functionality of Craft's clothes and told me how she works closely with the company. Now I also get to be part of the development and actively participate in the testing of products, which I am looking forward to," says Marit.


"This is very exciting news for Craft.  Having both Charlotte Kalla and now Marit Bjorgen wearing Craft really speaks to the brand's quality and functionality," says Katie Swenson, Nordic sales manager for Craft Sportswear North America. "It's absolutely fantastic to have such talented athletes wearing Craft."



Former Olympic sprint champion Björn Lind is responsible for Craft's cross-country collection, and he has big plans for the colla­boration with Marit. "For us it's important to collaborate with the best athletes in order to develop the best clothes. Elite athletes spend many hours in their training clothes and have huge demands when it comes to functionality and comfort. We use their feed­back in the development of our design, technology and quality. Marit will play an important part in this process," says Björn Lind.

see Video 
Marit Bjorgen and Craft Sportswear
Marit Bjorgen and Craft Sportswear

Events and Destinations 




AXCS National Masters Returning To Craftsbury In 2015

Next season Craftsbury, Vermont will once again play host to the AXCS National Masters -- January 30 to February 1, 2015. Master skiers from coast-to-coast will take part in the NM2015 10km freestyle wave start races on Thursday, January 30. The beautiful Craftsbury Ski Marathon will then serve as the distance classic championships on Saturday, February 1. No special qualification is required to take part in any National Masters event and skiers of all abilities are always welcome. For complete updated information this spring/summer please visit



Attention Masters!  

A Special Spring 2014 Offer On AXCS Membership


The American XC Skiers (AXCS) non-profit masters association currently has a very special offer for all master skiers. Join AXCS by April 5 and you will not only be included in the mailing list of the exclusive AXCS Spring Digest print issue, but AXCS will also extend your membership "year" all the way until October 31, 2015! This means a membership of up to 20 months all for the normal low AXCS dues. Skiers joining AXCS for three years will also get the bonus features making for an even better value! AXCS is internationally recognized as one of the very best masters information resources on the planet. This special offer is your very best chance to discover why! Visit today for both on-line and print-and-mail membership options.



Birkie Video



Relive all the drama, excitement and triumph of the 2014 American Birkebeiner. Follow the top freestyle men as they attack the hills of the Birkie trail in pursuit of winning the prestigious race.

Our exclusive up-close snowmobile camera gives you such insight into this race you'll feel like you are skiing with the lead pack of Italians, Frenchman, German, Czech and the top Americans to claim victory on main street in Hayward.

A must-see DVD to recall special moments of the 2014 American Birkebeiner. A must-see for every fan, athlete and coach.

$29.95 / ORDER TODAY

$1 from each DVD sold goes to the American Birkebeiner Young Skier Development Fund. 

The remainder of your purchase allows Central Cross Country Ski Association to support programs for kids, youth, juniors, Olympic hopefuls, citizen and recreational skiers, skiers with physical disabilities and injured veterans.

Thank you for being part of our success!


Equinox Snow Challenge


March 22-23, 2014

Rendezvous Ski Trails, West Yellowstone, MT.

Race Type: team relay or solo / 3, 6, 12, or 24 Hour / fatbike or Nordic ski

Contact: Sam Newbury                                                      

Phone: 406-209-3533



Nordic Job Openings

Nordic Job Opening? email to post

About SkiPost


Cross-Country skiing's community lodge. Where knowledge and stories are shared. The goal of SkiPost is to make the sport of Cross-Country skiing easier and more enjoyable for all who choose to participate. If you have questions on Cross-Country Skiing email us and visit


Enjoy Winter,

Andrew Gerlach
Director/Editor- SkiPost


Like us on Facebook
In This Issue
Ask Us
Which Brush
Individual VS Mass Start
Kick Durabaility
JN Video
Marit and Craft
Events & Destinations
Birkie Video

25 Medals for Bliz Athletes 


Bliz America Blog

BLIZ America Dealers



For more BLIZ USA info 



Start Kick Waxes

Start Wax  and Poles Explained

start poles

Start Wax and Poles Explained

Start Wax & Pole Catalog 1314 

Salomon Nordic
nnf word
Support Tomorrow's Nordic Stars Today
New World Wax table foot clamp

Noname Banner Final

Get your team custom unis from NONAME
 and separate yourself team from the pack.

CXC Academy


Get Lungplus to preheat your breath and save your lungs. Get a Lungplus and ski like the Norwegians!
For more information go to 

ski erg

Bliz Active Logo


Keep Focused


proflip marit
find the time
The one gift you receive at birth is time.  You'll never have more  than you have today.  Find the Time.
Salomon Nordic
Like us on Facebook