Saturday, January 22, 2011

Athabasca Loppet

What's that, you say? A post about a loppet here? That's right my friends - tomorrow I am donning a bib (if there actually are bibs) and toeing the line at the Athabasca Loppet.

It's been a long time since I actually raced, at least since March 2009. That day ended in a Simple Jack performance with a lot of heartache and woe, but all in all was a fun time and made for good stories. You can refresh yourself on the details here - heart rate graph - and here - more details.

Ski selection for these events is critical, which is why, with absolutely zero testing, I settled on my pair with a CFC2 grind.

Hilariously, ski servicemen are somewhat renowned for entering races while having poor shape. There is even a championship race at the World Cup - relay video. I'd recommend checking this out.

I'll be sure to post an update tomorrow after the race. This is going to get worse before it gets better.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Birkie Fever?

With about a month to go until the Birkie it seems appropriate to dust off a few old gems from FakeFasterSkier and Johnny Klister.

It has been stated that, "the Birkie is what happens when you decide to do a lot of something really poorly." (Hopefully they remember to open the gate this year...)

Excerpts from the 1973 AD diary of the patron (and spiritual guide) of the Birkie - Saint Masterblastus:

1. "He who raceth the first kilometeric length in the most aggressive fashion shall be the victor."

2. "If though stompith thy neighbors pole into bits and pieces, eternal glory is assured."

3. "Should your waxations prove ineffective, 'tis always best to blameth their failings first, for surely it is their fault."

4. Toko kick wax has been fast exactly never.    

I really wish FakeFasterSkier would start posting again. 

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Edmonton Alberta Cups - it's going to be cold

This weekend Edmonton Nordic will be hosting Alberta Cups 3 and 4. Here are a few thoughts on the race:

In general, the situation is not looking good. The high for Saturday is somewhere between -20C and -25C and the high for Sunday is somewhere between -18C and -30C. The bottom line is that it will be cold. You can check the Edmonton forecast from my two favourite weather sites here: The Weather Network,

Often there is some confusion about what the official rules are with respect to cold weather. Let me enlighten you, as per the rule book: 

With air temperatures below -20°C (temperature measured at the coldest point of the course and without wind factor) and competition distances less than or equal to 15 km, the Jury must postpone or cancel the competition. With competition distances greater than 15 km and temperature less than -18°C without wind factor, the Jury must postpone or cancel the competition.

Based on that, things are not looking so good...

Glide Wax
Just in case the TD decides to keep the race thermometer under their arm, it's a good idea to start thinking about your race skis.

The bottom line is that you need to get the bases hard - really, really hard. I would suggest the following treatment:

Base wax: apply Swix LF4, iron, cool, scrape and repeat - in other words, two layers.

Race wax: apply Solda S30, iron, cool, scrape, brush - if you have a fine steel brush, now is the time to pull that out. The more wax you can remove from your skis the better!

Top coats: you might consider testing Solda PJ3 the morning of the race, but that's probably about it.

Structure: for the classic race consider lightly applying a fine linear structure to the tails only. For the skate race consider lightly applying a fine V structure. Both should be pressed only very lightly.

Kick Wax
It is unlikely that getting kick is going to be a problem. Focus on finding waxes that maximize free glide. You should consider Swix VR30, Guru green, Star Blue, Magnar 1, and other similar waxes in your test.
Good luck this weekend! It's going to be a cold one!


Monday, January 10, 2011

Thunder Bay - a success

The team is home from Thunder Bay now and the trip was a resounding success. We are sending a total of nine people to World Junior and U23 Championships. See the full list here - CCC Team Announcement.

The trip home from the airport was perhaps the most epic part of this adventure, but more on that to follow.

Heidi killing it in the pursuit race. She punched her ticket to World Juniors.

Adding top coats to the skis. Even at -19C some top coats were making things better. Do you have Solda products in your box? You should.

The junior men's pursuit race was utter carnage. A massive crash 200m into the race resulted in four pairs of broken skis, including this one belonging to Bob. He proceeded to race back to the wax cabin, grab a warm-up ski, hang on through the classic portion, and then throw down the fastest skate time on the day. Gutsy performance.

A poster we found in Thunder Bay. I don't even know what to say about this. Read the DJ names who were playing at this gig.

Our furnace eventually stopped working. At many venues, this would have been a disaster. However, because we were at Lappe this was promptly rectified and an oil heater provided in the meantime!


Gord Jewett - 2010 Olympian and new recruit to the AWCA service squad. He survived, but he's very tired. Really excellent to have Gord along.

Further evidence that Thunder Bay is not good for my shape.

We had Thai food one night. Chris struggled with the spiciness a bit.

Flying home. I've read this issue quite a few times. Also, anyone who says that West Jet is better than Air Canada simply hasn't spent much time on airplanes.

Standard view.

The pickup lane at YEG. Apparently I live in the Tundra.

There is a lot of snow in Edmonton.

The next three weeks will be spent to Edmonton and then it is straight back into racing. I head to Sweden at the end of the month before jetting back just in time for the Canadian Birkie.

Game on!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Thunder Bay - the reason why winter is my fat season

I've been in Thunder Bay for a little more than a day now. Here is what you need to know so far:

The domestic Air Canada terminal in the Toronto Airport. I seem to have spent a lot of time here over the years, including one memorable half-day with Lorris. The smell of Lush in this terminal is overwhelming.

The Hoito - apparently an institution in Thunder Bay. This city is filled with Finns and they like to hang out here. Going here for breakfast today reminded me of being in Europe - not much English spoken inside this place.

When you eat at the Hoito you get Finnish pancakes, either alone, with eggs, or with eggs and sausage. I opted for eggs. The sheer size of this breakfast is hard to convey and is a perfect example of why skiing makes me fat.

The outside of the restaurant. There was a bouncer, seriously! Upon entering you descend into a different world that reminds me of what Ikea must have been like in the '60s.

Our waxing cabin at Lappe. Very comfortable, except that the furnace constantly stops. Overall, a great place to work.

Getting set up this morning.

Now we have lunch. Yes, that would be round two of pancakes on the day, this time served up at the Lappe cafeteria. Some argue that these are even better than the Hoito. We did not go hungry.

Things getting serious.

Our hotel: The Prince Arthur. The 2.5/5 average customer rating on Google seems about right. This place was built in 1911 as a CNR hotel and to be honest I don't think much has changed. Hands down the darkest hotel room I've ever occupied.

Anyway, you're probably wondering how it can be just 10PM and yet we're already home. It turns out that the venue is 35 minutes from town, which is pretty inconvenient in terms of team meetings and supper. We decided that everything was in a good place for morning and headed home a little while ago. Boom.

As for wax today let me just say this - multiple layers of cold wax is what makes skis fast when the weather is cold. That and certain powders, which we applied.

Results will be on tomorrow. Lately the results have been posted live, and with many laps tomorrow there will be lots of action to follow.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Thunder Bay

The holiday break is officially over and it is time to get back at it. Tomorrow I head to the office for one day and on Tuesday we fly to Thunder Bay. The races are on Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday with a lot on the line; these are the selection races for the World Junior and U23 team, as well as the distance team for Senior World Championships. This is the big time.

The races will be held at the Lappe Nordic Ski Centre and you can check out a webcam here - webcam. I've heard nothing but great things about this venue and there is even a sauna (not that we will have time to use it...)!

In other news, it's going to be cold in Thunder Bay, like really cold. Stay on top of the forecast here - the Weather Network. As Paul once said, that forecast is colder than Old Man Winter's crotch. 
Old Man Winter?
That's all for now. We'll catch up from Thunder Bay.