We just wrapped up our second of two weekends to kick off the beginning of the JNQ race season at the Birkebeiner Trailhead in Cable. It was a repeat of last weekend in terms of conditions with some warm weather and rain in the days leading up to the races. With that in mind, we had a decent starting point on testing and application. The races that were on top for the weekend was a classic sprint on Saturday and a skate interval start race on Sunday.
December 16th – Classic Sprint
Similar to the previous weekend, we came into these races with a focus on getting the kick call correct. We made an educated guess with the glide wax based on our testing and looking at the forecast We were uncertain if the weather was going to dip below freezing overnight or stay just above. If it were to stay above freezing, we were going to apply Swix TSP10 as that has been doing really well in our warm weather tests. If it were to freeze overnight, we would have applied Rex NF21 as it has also tested really well in icier conditions. Because we were uncertain of what was going to happen with the weather, we decided to go with Rex NF21 as we thought it would be the safer option if it stayed warm than if we applied TSP10 and it went cold overnight.
Unfortunately, we were incorrect with our guess, but knowing that we picked out a very safe wax we knew that as long as we nailed the kick call our skis were still going to be rockets. We did add a liquid Rex NF41 later on during the day during the heats to help further increase the speed of the skis.
It rained most of the night and stayed above freezing through the day so we focused all of our efforts on klister options. We applied all of our skis with Rex Liquid Base the night before to get us a head start on the morning of waxing. Right away we tested six ideas applying by hand to get a feeling as to what was running well. Here is what we tested and our thoughts on the waxes:
1a – Rode KM3 - Fastest option that still had decent kick
1b – Guru Extreme 39 – Best kicking option, but maybe a little slow
2a – Swix K22 Universal – In a group with several options that had decent kick and ok speed
2b – Rex Gold Moly – Similar to Swix K22
3a – Start Universal Wide – Good kick, a little slower than Guru Extreme 39
3b – Swix KN33 – Similar to K22 and Gold Moly
We narrowed in on Rode KM3 and Guru Extreme 39 as our two race options. Guru Extreme 39 was going to be our main kicking option, and we would use Rode KM3 as the last layer for a speed boost for the athletes that we knew were strong enough to kick it. The second round of testing focused specifically on application. We were lucky to be able to work with Sam Myers from UWGB for a second weekend in a row and between the two teams, we were able to get 3 wax machines up and running to make layering klister a breeze. We were going to use a combination of three different klisters to make our skis run. First layer is adding to our binder and giving our skis some extra volume. The second layers would be our main kicking option, and the final layer was the speed cover. The 3 rollers would consist of Swix KX35 Violet Klister (Very good violet klister that adds volume without affecting the kicking or gliding properties of the waxes on top of it), Guru Extreme 39 and Rode KM3.
The layering test we did looked specifically at the different combinations of these waxes. I assigned a letter to each of the waxes for ease of use. A = KX35, B = Guru Extreme 39, C = Rode KM3.
1a – a, a, a, b
1b – a, a, b, b
2a – a, b, b, b
2b – b, b, b, b
3a – a, b, b, c
3b – a, a, b, c
4a – a, b, c, c
Our favorite option for kick was 2a, and our favorite option for glide was 3a. Finding the appropriate layering made applying wax to skis very easy. We were able to get a three layer klister job applied to 35 pairs of skis in less than 45 minutes using the wax machines. This would have been an impossible task to do by hand.
As the day went on and the track broke down, we started to steer away from KM3 as a speed layer and started looking into an option that would bump up the kick a little bit. We tested an additional layer of Rex TK-2251 on top of the 2a option and found that it helped to increase the kick without affecting the speed too much.
December 17th – Skate Interval Start
During the races on Saturday Max and I were able to find a little bit of time to hop out on our skate skis and test some paraffins for Sundays skate race. We knew that we were going to have a bit more time on Sunday to really focus in on our skis so we wanted to make sure that we had a good starting point with the melt on paraffin.
1a – Rex NF11
1b – Swix TSP10
2a – Rex NF21
2b – Rode Endurance
This initial test basically confirmed what we already knew from earlier test during the season. Swix TSP10 has been good in warm/wet, man made snow. It was the best option in the test, closely followed by Rex NF11 and NF21. Any of these three waxes would have made a good first layer for our skate day. Rode Endurance was the only option that didn’t feel special to us on this specific day.
We applied all the athlete skis with Swix TSP10 the night before and put a focus on cold application and structure testing in the morning. Because of the course conditions, we had a very limited testing window on snow in the morning. This meant that Max and I had to pair down our test and get things on snow very quickly to make sure we had enough time to apply to athletes skis before the race.
1a – Swix TS10
1b – Rode Beta Med
2a – Rex NF41
2b – Swix TSP10 (Melt-on)
We only had time to test 3 liquids and confirm it again the melt-on paraffin. Different from last weekend where we had the melt-on paraffin feel good on its own, all three liquids top coats felt much better than the TSP10 straight up. Our top two options were Swix TS10 liquid and Rex NF41 with the Rex product getting the slight edge in speed.
We spent the last few minutes of available course time going over our structure. We have been lucky enough to test a new world cup structure tool set from Speedy Rollers. The tool has been great, but unfortunately it is hard to source here in the US. We compared against our tried and true Red Creek structure tools and they have been clearly ahead in these wetter conditions we have played around with the last two weekends. The winning combination of structure for us, which happens to be the same as our Duluth JNQ weekend was the following: Z2N-33 full pass + Z2N-33 tails only backwards + U200 linear tails only. The comparable tools from Red Creek would have been the +5/-5 and the linear 2mm riller.