Volume 17 Issue 44: March 3, 2016
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American Birkebeiner Race Report - by Caitlin Gregg
Bliz Athlete

Waking up the morning of the largest cross country ski race in North America and the largest cash purse in the country ($10,000) I look out the window to check out the weather.  Temperatures still haven't dipped below freezing, meaning that this will be one of the warmest American Birkebeiner races in recent history.   It isn't uncommon for a big temperature swing on race day, but the last few years it has been a cold snap.  The body takes time and energy to adjust to changes in temperature and fueling become even more important.  A lot can happen along the 52 kilometer trail from Cable to Hayward and this is one of my most important days of my year.  My fitness is strong but I know that sometimes that isn't enough in a big competitive race.  Some of my biggest fears are a broken pole or a missed feed.  With the trail winding through the woods my team has scouted out the various logging roads and snowmobile crossings where they will be able to connect with me on the course, there are six of them.  

In the past I have noticed other athletes not feeding in the first 20 km and I know that they are the ones who will drop off the lead pack first.  Myself, I feed a lot.  It is so important that I ski with a water bottle and swap it out for a new one every 5-10 kilometers at the checkpoints we have scouted earlier.  I see the Green hat of my service team my mother-in-law or sister-in-law and receive my first 3 bottles perfectly.  We cross the 4th road and I look for my feed.  Unfortunately my friend is not there, they must have gotten lost on the many unmarked back roads you must take to get there.  I still have a little of my custom Infinit mix left and have been feeling good so I should be good until the next feed zone.  I have tried to make several attacks on the group but the warm snow has meant the course is fast, I can get a small gap but the group working together can bring me back and I am unable to break away.  I see my friend at the 5th feed and I take my full bottle.  

A few kilometers later one of the largest climbs of the course is coming up.  The Infamous Bitch Hill, with 12 km to go to the finish I make my move.   At the top of the hill it is down to me and a French Racer who wears the red leaders bib of the FIS Worldloppet Cup.  I can see she is hurting but I can't shake her, when I try to get her to lead she slows the pace down and I worry the others might catch us.  I attack again and again.  Now we are on a lake and the draft advantage makes it too hard to get away.  I continue to pull at a constant pace.  With 1 km to go we climb off of the lake and on to the streets of Hayward.  Leading across the lake is not a smart move in this race.  Now is when I know my fueling really comes in to play as I gear up for the finishing sprint.  I make another attack and focus on the finish line ahead.  I don't hear the breathing of anyone behind me, I glance left, I glance right, I have crossed the finish for my 4th American Birkebeiner title.  

Nearly 2.5 hours of racing and it all came down to the final sprint.  I can't hold back the enormous smile on my face from crossing the finish line first.  This race has literally changed my life as it helped me pay off my debts from training for the 2010 Olympics, it bought my husband and my first house, it helped me coach him to his first Olympic Team (2014) and allowed me to win a medal at the 2015 World Championships.  The best part now is that 8,000 of my friends, training partners and sponsors are also about to come across that finish line.  This race is the focal point for many cross country skiing community and part of the lifestyle that I love so much. 
If you would like to try Caitlin's Mix, or customize your own Infinit Mix use discount code: TeamGregg to save 10% on your order at

Caitin Gregg

Skins at the Birkie

Dear Andy, 

My skins skis worked great for the first half of the wet Birkie and then the kick diminished to next to nothing.  We used the Start Anti Ice rub on. At the finish line I looked at the skins and at first I thought the skins has dissolved and disappeared. But examining the skis at Gear West I discovered that the skins had become matted down to almost no hairs visible which reduced their kick. The skins had picked up klister and dirt along the way. The anti-ice worked for about 25km and then gradually diminished its effectiveness  What could be dine in future make skis work longer when it is that wet, dirty and klistery?

I had a few people who let e know they had good ski kick for the 50k using just the Start Anti Ice. Some who just put on one treatment and one who puts it on each and every outing. So it can work for 50km of wet slog if the skis are super saturated with anti ice form day 1.

I did have a few racers use the Start FHF 1 pure nano fluorcarbon on their skins ( as well as glide zones) and they raved about the skis. This product is a pure liquid fluorcarbon and 1 drop covers the skin to the nano level of penetration.

For next year Start has developed a new Start HF Skin treatment that will be the go-to Skin solution. 

Andy at Start/SkiPost

Wind Chill Wax?

Hi Andy.  Love your posts.  Congratulations to ALL Birkie skiers that completed the event.  I would LOVE to try that someday.  I have a quick question for you that I'm confused with.  It is in regard to waxing.  I have been using the air temperature to pick my glide wax, but this year I'm finding that up here in Timmins, Ontario, we have been getting "wind chills, that are very different from the actual temperatures (a lot colder).  My glide has been inconsistent at best using the temperature to pick the wax.  I know you once said to use the "snow temperature" but I don't carry a thermometer for that.  Would "wind chills" make that much of a difference in the snow temperature or not?  Should I try using a colder wax or try mixing waxes?  Let me know, Mike

Wax temp recommendations are based on "air temperatures" as snow can never be warmer than 0 C because above that it becomes water. But when you are glide waxing you always want to error on the side of too cold rather than too warm. You want the glide wax to be just harder than the snow crystals it is gliding over. The more moisture present the warmer and rounder the crystal acts. "Wind Chill Temps are based on the airs effect on the skin." But Wind also dries out the snow and makes the crystal act colder (harder). Also dirt needs to be taken into consideration. The more dirt and the longer the dirty event, in dirty snow you need to harder wax to keep the dirt off as dirt sticks into soft wax. We promote Start Wax, and Start waxes are generally harder than most other brands at every temperature so you need not make as large adjustments.  In dirty and coarse snow we use the BM line which uses Molybedenum.  
Does this help?
Andy at SkiPost

Birkie Champion
Dave Norris : Bliz athlete

Dave shares his Birkie Victory story with us below.

Last Saturday, I competed in the largest, most esteemed race in North America. After 52k of exciting, tactical racing, I took the win- fueled by the support of the crowd and the fans on Main Street cheering so loud I couldn't even hear myself breathe. It was an event that beyond exceeded my expectations- with over 10,000 racers and an even larger number of spectators, ...... I am humbled by all the encouragement and support I have since received; the Birkie community and culture is what made this win so much more memorable than the rest.

With headlamps on and only a few hours of sleep under their belts, the Rossignol techs headed out hours before the race start to help me choose between my S2 and S3 white base skis. It was decided that my S2s would be the best overall ski through the variable conditions I would face on the course. From the gun, the pace went out steady for the first 10km before settling in, with a lead pack of just about 15 or 20 guys forming. As the pace settled in, I narrowed my focus on staying out of trouble- trying to avoid any pole breaks and attempting to ski efficiently through the rolling terrain. Since joining APU two years ago, I have been working a lot on my skate technique with my coach, Erik Flora. In order to save my legs for the surges that I expected to happen towards the last quarter of the race, I tried to ski with a strong core and an elastic kick to keep my legs from getting stiff.

When the pace picked up, I was ready for the push. With about 7km left in the race, the lead pack blew apart, leaving me alone with six other Europeans. As we skied onto the lake as a group, I knew the race would come down to a sprint finish unless someone picked up the pace before Main Street. Skiing across the slushy, soft, lake, I had deja-vu to training on Eagle Glacier with APU. Skiing there for the past three summers has taught me how to push effectively through nearly bottomless slush conditions. I felt comfortable with the technique needed to ski efficiently leading into the last kilometer of the race.

I took the lead a few 100 meters before we came off the lake increasing the pace, and when I hit the bridge I was going all out- having raced for over two hours to get to this point. As I exited the bridge, I started believing more and more in myself that I could take home the win. Sprinting down Main Street was the loudest cheering I have ever heard; the screaming from the fans could seriously be compared to the noise produced at a rock concert. I had no perception of where my competitors were around me because of all the noise- something I have never experienced before. 

This was a huge win, and I couldn't be more excited about my accomplishment. What really made it special was the entire Birkie experience and all the amazing people who congratulated me and have supported me so far in my ski career. Big thanks to APU Nordic Ski Center, Rossignol Skis and Boots, Exel Poles, and Bliz Eyewear and the many other individuals in the ski community.

Dave Norris
American Birkebeiner Champion

Photo:Paul Walsh
Junior National Championships 2016
 Live Stream

Bliz Start and Swenor art proud to be sponsors of the 2105 Junior National Championships next week in Cable Wis. 
We are sponsoring the Live Stream at

White Bases?

Do white base on high-end skis really make enough of a difference? Just wondering how many pairs of skis I should get for next year's race season.

Dear CR,

White base skis are most often wet snow skis. But it is not just the white base (or grey base in Salomon's warm carbon ski) but the entire camber and pressure distribution that is different on the skis to deliver optimal glide in wet snow. Is it noticeably faster in the right conditions, yes. Do you need it? All depends on your goals and budget. Do you do your own hand structuring now? If not that would be your next step of improvement in glide.
Andy at SkiPost

Classic Shoulder Movement?

I was out working on classic technique (no poles) the other day and started paying attention to how far my shoulder came forward. It seemed like the more I rotated my shoulder girdle (pushing my right shoulder forward as I reached out my left foot for glide, and vice versa) the better I moved along.  Then it occurred to me that the other shoulder (the back one) is in the final stage to pushing off with the pole. My question is how much of the poling effort comes from this axial rotation of the shoulders? Is this rotation generally considered a good thing, or is it one of those technique variations that leads to wasted motion, instability, and inefficiency? If you lay on your belly and crawl on your elbows it seems similar to the action I'm describing.
Big River Pete

Dear Big River Pete
You actually want to minimize that shoulder reach, and especially the axial rotation.   Too much reach, and and axial twisting, is, as you guessed, a "technique variation that leads to wasted motion, instability, and inefficiency."  If you watch video of the World Cup skiers, they are not rotating or reaching with the shoulder. 
Bottom line is that it adds a little momentum to help you down the track, so when you are single sticking or no-pole skiing, you feel the effects a lot.  However, when skiing normally, the extra momentum gain is lost compared to the extra power of full body skiing, and it often leads to poling cross-body, instead of down the track.  Further, it adds only the smallest of gains, that is more than lost by the extra time you must take in your cadence to create the effect. Hope this answers your question, and have a great winter!
Michael Sinnott

Marathon Taper-Peak

I'm an avid ski racer and most of my races throughout the ski season are marathon (~50km) skate races. This season I have been thinking more about how to properly taper and rest between marathons without loosing fitness. For example, the Birkie is next weekend, followed by a two week break until the Yellowstone Rendezvous on March 5th. I'm hoping to feel fast at the Birkie, and peak for the Rendezvous. What types of workouts do you recommend to make sure I recovery from the Birkie but peak (instead of loosing fitness) going in to the Rendezvous? I'm very comfortable with interval training, but am not sure what types of intervals (duration/ intensity/ reps), if any, are appropriate in this late phase of the season. 
Thanks for your help!
K Bean

Hi K-Bean,
First of all I am impressed that you are prioritizing a race in your schedule.  It is easy to want to do well in every race you enter, but prioritizing one race each month can help you to have a truly great race rather than a bunch of so-so races.  I would recommend maintaining your average training load up until Tuesday before the Birkie, then I would recommend reducing your training load by 50 percent for the next three days.  Keep the training frequency the same, but just make each workout a lower load.  If you normally ski for an hour, just go for a half hour.  If you noramlly do 6*4 minute intervals do 3*4 minute intervals.  Maintaining the workout frequency will help you to still get the hormonal and physiological benefits of the training but the lower load should help you feel good and fresh for the race.  You will not loose any fitness over three easy days.  After the Birkie, feel free to take a day or two off, or better yet get out for a super slow recovery ski, walk, bike, yoga or jog.  Keep the intensity super low as the purpose of any training is to help your body recover.  Hopefully by Wednesday you will begin to feel good again.  Resume your normal training load and frequency.  Since you have already had a hard race effort, I would reccomend threshold interval workouts with burst of speed thrown in.  A favoring of mine is 6*8 minutes at level 3 with 2*15 second bursts in each interval.  The focus of this workout is helping your body to buffer lactic acid and to improve your comfort and technique at speed.  If you still feel the load from the Birkie, just do easy distance skiing with 10 x 8-12 second bursts of speed at 10 km race pace. Give yourself a good 2-3 minutes between each burst.  The entire week of your target race drop your training load by 50%.  If you get that restless feeling, that is a good thing, just save that energy for the race.  March is one of the most fun times to be a skier as you can essentially rest and race.  Good luck,
Brian Gregg
2014 Olympian XC Skiing


Do you have any sock suggestions? There seem to be so many brands but none are perfect. Most that are warm are either too bulky or too tall for my skate boots. 
Froze Toes

My new favorite is Point 6 socks. I discovered their all new Nordic socks at the Outdoor Retailer show this fall. They reinvented a Nordic sock from the toe up.
They are the perfect size for skate boots, not too tall, not too short. They come in the various thicknesses, not too thin and not too thick. They have models with extra padding around the ankles bones for skate boots They are made with Merino wool for warmth and durability and are made in America, and based in Ski Town USA,  Steamboat Springs, Colorado. (Yes, they are now an advertiser on SkiPost, but this is because I love the socks.)  

Andy at SkiPost


What suggestions do you have for a light for night skiing.  I have a great bike light but no way to mount it for night skiing use.   The others (strapped flashlight type) I've use simply don't provide a lot of illumination.

I have used various good battery powered headlamps and most have served me fine for night skiing. But a different approach is the Lumen by UltraSpire. Rather than a headlamp is a waist lamp and broadcasts the light from lower down for less eye strain and better ability to pick up trail variations. 

Andy at SkiPost

 Wax Recs

All Start Wax Recs can be found at 





Many more Start Wax recs are posted at 
Also try out the Start Wax Choose at  

Andy at SkiPost/Start email questions

Tour of Canada Contest

We're excited to announce that our inaugural SkiTrax FIS Fantasy Ski Tour Canada 2016 Contest is coming soon with lots of great prizes up for grabs, including the sweet grand prize a Salomon S-Lab package, including Carbon Skate Lab Skis, SNS Pilot Carbon RS Binding, and S-Lab Skate Pro Boots valued at $1,360 US.

Birkie Wax

Thanks for the tips at the Birkie.  We went with the Start FHF Red klister and had great kick!!! Thank you,

Hi Andy,
Thanks again for the support at the Birkie.  The purple was the right call.  My skis were competitive with any of those in the packs I was skiing with, and really shined in the last 20k when it was filthy.  You could really see others skis slowing at that point.
Thanks again,

email us your Birkie wax feedback at

Concept2 is excited to be back as a sponsor of the 2016 Slumberland American Birkebeiner®-and pleased to be able to offer Birkie skiers, and all members of a regional ski association, a discount of $50 on the purchase of an effective Birkie training tool: the second generation Concept2 SkiErg.
The SkiErg is a convenient and effective addition to your training, especially if you have ever been faced with any of the following challenges:
  • There is little or no snow
  • Safe roller skiing roads are too far away
  • Daylight is fading and it's unsafe to be on the roads
  • You are recovering from injury
  • You want an accurate way to measure you training progress
  • You are under a time crunch and need a fast, effective workout, in the convenience of your home or club
The SkiErg can be mounted directly to a wall if floor space is at a minimum, or you can order it with the optional floor stand. The floor stand supports the SkiErg if wall mounting is not an option and makes the SkiErg free standing and mobile-use it anywhere!
For more specific ways to use the SkiErg in your training, 

visit for a wealth of information.

Durable Poles?
Thick Wall Construction.

I see you guys promoting Start Poles as light swing weight and durable. They are light, but how can they be durable when they are tiny at the basket? 
Dubious Fred


You point at just the Start innovation that makes them light weight and durable, their race geometry. Start's race series poles are 17 mm in diameter (wider than many) at the handle and has thin wall construction for stiffness and lightweight. Uniquely its diameter and wall thickness change gradually from handle to tip. Start race poles are 8mm at the tip (thinner than most) and has thick wall construction for light weight and extra durability. By having only 8mm at the basket Start can make the walls extra thick for the greatest impact resistance so the poles do not break when a ski hits the pole near its tip, yet are still extremely light.  

Andy at SkiPost/Start  

Start is the low swing weight and high durability

This Bliz 
 Bliz for winter are now in stores.

 Check out  the This Bliz video from Bliz World Cup stars including Charlotte Kalla, Marcus Hellner, and Robin Bryntesson. 
This Bliz

Andy at SkiPost/Bliz
Salomon Nordic

Jessie Diggins recorded another World Cup podium Tuesday at the Tour of Canada. Follow all the World Cup action at

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Supporting Tomorrow's Nordic Stars Today

National Nordic Foundation Allocates $154,280 to
2015 - 2016 Pillar Projects    read more here

NNF online auction starts soon Read more here.



Mt Bachelor Nordic Center announces inaugural running of the Cascade Crest 50km Nordic Ski Marathon and Relay
Enjoy the splendor of the high Cascades while testing your limits at the 2016 Cascade Crest 50km Nordic Ski Marathon, 25km, 10km or 50km Relay, slated for Saturday, March 12, 2016 at the Mt Bachelor Nordic Center.                                                  
Routed along the trails of the Mt Bachelor Nordic Center and US Forest Service land in the shadow of Broken Top Mountain, this year's course will provide breathtaking views and a festive race venue!
Event Calendar:                
Friday, March 11, 2016:  4:00 - 7:00 p.m.  Packet Pick Up, WebSkis Ski Shop Bend, Oregon
Saturday, March 12, 2016: 9:00 a.m. Start 10Km Skate/Classic
9:30 a.m. Start 50Km Skate
9:40 a.m. Start 25Km Skate
9:45 a.m. Start 4 X 12.5 Km (50Km) Skate Relay
8:30 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. Vendor Expo at Finish Area
All events at Mt. Bachelor Nordic Center
6:00 p.m. Awards Party, WebSkis Ski Shop 550 SW Industrial Way, Bend, Oregon
Sunday, March 13, 2016: 9:00 - 2:00 p.m. Cascade Crest On-Snow Demo Day Mt. Bachelor Nordic Center
 Details here                                                      

2016 Great Bear Chase!

Registration is now open for the 36th annual UP Health System Portage Great Bear Chase. The race will take place on Saturday, March 5th, 2016 at the beautiful Swedetown Trails in Calumet, Michigan. To register now, visit

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
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In This Issue

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Bliz Active Logo


This Bliz
This Bliz

25 Medals for Bliz Athletes 

Start Kick Waxes

Start Wax  and Poles Explained


Point6 Nordic Socks 
West Yellowstone








Jon Engen

Jim Galanes


Start Genius Dealers 


For more Start USA info  



BLIZ America Dealers 



For more BLIZ USA info 





find the time
The one gift you receive at birth is time.  You'll never have more  than you have today.  Find the Time.

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