Toko: Prelim Birkie Wax Tip and Why We Race

FasterSkierFebruary 20, 2012

Preliminary Birkie Wax Tip

John Bauer went out and tested glide wax this morning. Temperature was fairly warm when he tested (20F) which is on the warm side to what we anticipate, so it was a good test. HF Blue outran HF Red and JS Blue outran JS Red. The Birkie trail has lots of ice on it with some slow powder as well and some dirt on road crossings and areas that have been shoveled. Obviously HF Blue is super dirt resistant due to its hardness, fluorine, and lack of greasiness (no oil). The forecast is for 1-5 inches of snow to fall the next two days followed by snow showers up to race day with no significant accumulation. Temperatures are supposed to be warmer through Thursday with overnight lows around 20F and highs in around freezing. Friday night it is supposed to cool down some and hit a low of 12F with a high of just 25 of Saturday. If that forecast holds up, our wax tip should be excellent. If it is warmer than that (if the warmer weather stalls out), then we could be looking at HF Moly followed by JS Red being the race wax. So, our preliminary glide wax tip for the Birkie is:

LF Moly, HF Blue, JS Blue with Blue structure. This would be for the entire field. With a forecasted high of 25 and enough dirt out there, this should be good for everyone. It will be important to keep the skis clean and to have durable wax due to the ice and dirt out there – Blue for all.

Should temperatures warm up and hit only an overnight low of around 18F+, we would go with LF Moly, HF Moly, JS Red with Red Structure (for everybody).

For grip, because conditions are currently ice with some powder here and there on top and forecasted incoming snow from 1-5 inches, we need to wait and see what happens. We can’t make a call now obviously as we have no idea if we are looking at klister or hard wax even. We will make the call as soon as we think we have a predictable situation (perhaps starting Wednesday evening).

We will have all local shops staffed with people who will be informed about our grip wax tip and the website will be updated as soon as we make the call, so I don’t see this as a problem.

As with all Toko wax tips, should a person not want to use HF products for example, he or she could substitute LF or System 3 as their temperature ranges are similar. For this reason, we don’t do multiple wax tips showing the different “levels” of performance.

I’m a purist when it comes to kick wax. Give me klister or give me hard wax, plus a torch, a cork, and some time and I’ll prepare the best kicking and gliding skis imaginable.

Unfortunately, when I arrived at Trapp Family Lodge last weekend to watch the Dartmouth Carnival, I showed up late and needed to prep my skis in a hurry to make it to the top of the course in time to watch the racers come through. I dug through my wax box to find what the French refer to as the fart du jour. The wax of the day should have been a combination of klister covered with hard wax-probably my favorite type of classic skiing. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time for that. Instead, I found a can of Toko Green Nordic Grip Spray. Not exactly the most traditional kick wax.

With no time to spare, I sprayed it on over a coat of base wax that almost always stays on my classic rock skis. I was impressed by how easy it was to smooth the wax out with my thumb, despite cold temperatures that would have had most tubes of klister frozen stiff. The wax cooled on my skis as I ran from the parking lot to the trail. I clipped into my skis and took off up the first climb, expecting to slip, but getting solid kick instead. Sweet! I made it to the top, just in time to catch the top men hammering through the feed zone.

“Okay,” I thought, “now is when I ski downhill and get burned because I put on too much Grip Spray.” In fact, the opposite happened and I was dropping the guys I was skiing with who had skate skis on. Pretty legit.

After the races, we decided to ski a few extra kilometers. I ended up reapplying the Grip Spray only once, after throwing in a hard hockey stop to make it around a corner in an Underhill Rules, no-holds-barred, downhill race-aka Stowe Derby practice. The stuff held strong for the remainder of the three hour ski.

The best part? I realized when I got back to the car that I’d left the Grip Spray cap in my wax box. Unlike a tube of uncapped klister that seems to coat everything, my jacket pocket didn’t have any wax residue in it from the Grip Spray.

I still prefer to take the time to methodically wax my skis for the right conditions, but this weekend I found a new respect for Grip Spray. Give it a shot.


Garrott Kuzzy



This is a letter to a master racer friend of mine who was really down after having had a bad race. I thought there might be others who might be interested to read it as well.

Hi (Friend),

Antje (my wife) read me your email to her from this morning and how downtrodden and defeated you feel which from your words are greatly as a result of your substandard Boulder MT Tour result.

My question to you is “Why do you do the Boulder MT Tour?”

If it is mostly so you can get your best result ever or to pursue the goal of winning you need to change your attitude in order to have an enjoyable experience. Many people are happy (not only with their race, but with themselves) if they get a certain time or place or beat a certain person. I understand the short term boost that might come from a good result, but again this is misguided. It’s far more important to consider the question why you are doing it in the first place.


Probably my two most enjoyable Yellowstone Rendezvous races were the one that I was the best in and the one that I was the worst in. A Rendezvous race that I won was a fairly easy race for me and won the sprint easily. It was an easy race somehow. It certainly wasn’t just the winning that was enjoyable, but also the feeling of being fit, strong, and fast that was very enjoyable. The “fat” year (the year after we had Hazel, our first child) also saw me race the Rendezvous. I had a fantastic race. My sensations were superb – I think I came extremely close to achieving my potential that day for that day. My time was maybe 35 minutes slower than any of my faster years (which were actually slow years compared to when I was younger and trained full time), but I really enjoyed the race despite not being fit at all. I didn’t just tour it and “enjoy the views”. I snuck a peak now and then, but I was truly racing it and trying my best. I tortured myself that day getting every second possible out of my body…and I did. I think that’s one reason why it was so satisfying. I demanded the best from myself and got it despite being totally fat and slow.

A while after the race, a friend asked me how my race went. I told her that it was fantastic. She later asked me “what the heck” after seeing my result. I explained that I was 30 pounds overweight, had hardly skied at all, and had a superb race that day. That’s how it was and how I felt. It was a great day and I was on a high. I wasn’t going to let an old standard hinder my enjoyment. (Otherwise, why would we ever race again after physically peaking in life? I would have never raced again after retiring from full time sport.)

If our satisfaction or enjoyment is only tied in with our results, we are making a mistake and the chances of us having a good day (however you define it) are slim. Let yourself “enjoy the journey”. I think that is why we “do the Boulder MT Tour”, simply “to do it”. Enjoy the post race war stories, socializing with your friends, meeting new people, the road trip itself, the preparation for the race, and enjoy knowing you did an epic ski race and challenged yourself on that particular day. That’s livin’ life isn’t it!?



Report from Teva Mountain Games

The Teva Games 10k course is an excellent example of making sure to test skis on all parts of the course. If skis had only been tested at the start and/or finish line, the wax selection would have been completely wrong as HF Red was running best in these areas, but HF blue was far superior on all other sections of the course due to the very cold and dry snow at elevation.

For the Ski Mountaineering race, we waxed with System 3 blue. System Blue is an excellent wax choice for all Skimo competitions regardless of the snow/temp conditions. You do not want to wax with a HF or LF fluoro because this will prevent the climbing skins from adhering to the base of the skis. In Ski Mountaineering glide is less of issue than ski base maintenance. System blue allows the climbing skins to be peeled off easily during transitions from uphill to downhill, but keeps glue residue and dirt from building up on the base of the ski. Therefore the skis will turn much easier and glide better on the flat and short uphill sections.

Congratulations to Sari Anderson who won 1st overall in the Ultimate Challenge running HF blue/JS blue for the 10k skate and system3 blue for the Skimo race.


Stephen White, Toko Tech Team


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