Thursday, March 14, 2013

Koos Top 20 In Drammen

I got a little update from Torin Koos, who had a great race in Drammen Norway this week:

Mark-

In Dramman, I raced on a C3 classic ski with dry wax over a very thin klister base in the qualifer, then straight klister in the rounds. The snow was sugary on the climbs and fast gliding, with a little breeze and a high of -3C. I used the Ultratune D5 grind over two skis with i5 and a new classic ski I got from Rossignol with an A5 grind. The Ultratune D5 ski was def the most free, best gliding ski.


All Best,
Torin

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Birkie Recap from Caitlin Gregg

Here's an email I got from Caitlin Gregg, Women's champ of the 2013 American Birkebeiner:

The 2013 Birkie weekend began with near perfect conditions on the
entire length of the Birkie trail from
Cable to Hayward. Brian and I spent the three weeks prior to the race
training at altitude in Eagle, Colorado. We arrived
to the Cable area on Tuesday night and got right to work testing skis
and grinds Wednesday morning
during our final intensity session before Saturday’s 50km race.

When we woke up on Wednesday the sky was clear and the temperatures
sat at -14F. Realizing
that the temperatures would be warmer on race day we postponed our
workout a few hours till the
temperatures were closer to 5F. Brian and I grabbed our favorite XCO2
and RDG grinds and headed out
to the Birkie trail. Brian and I both agreed that the trail was firm
and the snow dry and very fine. The
XCO2 skis were running the best.

Thursday morning brought more cold weather but the temperature quickly
rose to almost 30F by the
time we were racing in the Elite Sprints on Main Street. Both Brian
and I races on our RDG grinds on the
trucked in snow. The sprints went well and we both left feeling good
about our ski selection.

Friday morning was early as we wanted to start testing near race time.
The past two years we have
tested at Bodecker, which is about 18K into the race. This year we
were met with
temperatures around 18F and 3 inches of new snow with more continuing
to fall and accumulate.
Keeping this in mind Brian and I brought out about 7 pairs of skis
each to test. Our grinds ranged from
our coldest XCO2 skis to our I5 skis. With colder snow below and
slightly warmer snow falling we felt the
best way to decide which pairs were fastest was to use a timing system.

My fastest pairs of skis were my XC02 Pairs closely followed by my S1
pairs. After skiing through the soft
conditions on each pair testing both climbing and gliding speed under
foot I decided to put my favorite
pair of XCO2 skis and S1 skis in the wax room to be prepared for Birkie morning.

About an hour before the start I brought my two pairs of skis over to
the groomed oval testing area.
I put one ski on each foot and began to test how they felt and how
they skied. I ski in both the skied
in areas and on the fresher non skied in snow trying to mimic
conditions that could be found out on
course. I was happy to see that there was a little path that headed
out on the trail where I could actually
test on the trail itself.

Both my skis felt very good but I could tell that the new snow,
although mostly plowed of the course was going to leave conditions a
bit soft. I opted for my S1 ski as it is a Salomon Soft Ground and I
had raced the Birkie with it the year before and felt that the flex
was perfect for such a long hilly race. Last year conditions were a
bit different and I ran a D5 grind on the ski but after the season was
over Mark and I decided to make the ski a colder weather ski and put
the S1 grind on it.

I could not be happier with that decision. My skis were extremely free
for the entire race and I could tell my glide was better than the
girls around me. Knowing you have your skis and grind dialed heading
up Main Street for the final sprint is a huge advantage. As I pushed
my hardest to get around the Estonian girl for the win I was ecstatic
when my skis glided past hers across the finish line. I skied a smart
race but knew I was going to have a good one less than a K into the
event when the first downhill brought me zooming by the other
competitors.

-Caitlin Gregg
American Birkebeiner Champion 2013, 2010

A big win for Caitlin at the 2013 Birkie.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Preview - Madshus "Super Nano" Boots

Plain brown wrapper?  
A "sustainable" brown cardboard box.
For the 2013-2014 season, Madshus will have a new top-of-the-line skate boot called the "Super Nano".       I've seen early stealth prototypes that weren't quite finished, but yesterday a box arrived with a pair of size 44's that looked ready to go.

Starting from the outside, before you even dig in to the goods, you see a very "sustainable" brown corrugated cardboard box - gone is the glossy box that is harder to recycle.    Small thing, but it seems that the M company is doing their part to stay green with packaging.

Open the box and there's a little surprise; a mesh boot bag for storing the boots, or more likely a bag for carrying the damp and dire ski clothes after they've done their dirty duty.     Another nice little touch.    This is a pair of boots that will retail for over $700, so the nice little touches might be expected.

Boots and boot bag.   Red is mostly black.
It's pretty obvious that in Madshus' case, the new "Red" program means a black boot.   The upper of the boot still uses a generous amount of the durable and breathable Membrain fabric, and the interior space and construction look familiar to anyone who has worn the recent iterations of the Nano skate boot.   The bottom section material is no longer the rugged "cordera-like" red fabric, but is instead a black shiny (almost patent leather shiny) material with a subtle "carbon weave" design in it.

The upper carbon cuff seems to be from the same mold as last year's boot, but with different trim finish, and the hinge pivot fasteners are the same.

From the front.
So where's the big magic?    With the new Super Nano boot, the sole is the soul.     The outsole and lower cuff are all a single molded piece of carbon fiber that extends from the forefoot to the heel and up and around the sides.    It makes one really bad-ass stiff footbed!    Easily the stiffest skating foot-to-ski connection I've ever experienced.     This is the one thing that makes the boot expensive and high-tech and more noteworthy than the old Nano boot (which was and continues to be a great boot in its own right).

Fit...   ...you gotta wear this thing, right?    For me, this pair of size 44's is distinctly snugger and smaller-feeling than the 2012/13 Nano Carbon Skate boot that I normally wear.   It feels a little narrower in the toe box, and generally feels like I'd like to move up a half-size.    

Side view.
My opinion?    This is a super stiff, high performance racing skate boot.   The cosmetics are good, and construction is top notch, as it should be in a premium boot.      There's so little wiggle and play in the connection to the ski, that you'll notice it if your bindings are old and a little wiggly - something that most people never notice because of other bigger wiggles in the system.     The connection to the ski, and transfer of skating force, is the best I've experienced.    This will be a great skate boot for sprinters or short-distance racers.

Time will tell (and some long ski days, if I have a chance before this pair gets called back to the mother ship) if this super stiff footbed will be comfortable for long easy ski days, or marathons.   My guess is that a well fitted insole, and good skate technique, will make the trade-off off of higher efficiency vs flex/comfort a good exchange.


The soul of the Super Nano is the sole.
One big wrap-around molded carbon fiber piece.
NOTE - This is a late prototype, and it's not a final thing (I'm told) so fit may be tweaked yet.   Likewise the rubber NNN section will be fitted with the newest version with the lowered heel.


March Stone Grinding Schedule at Nordic Ultratune

You've been training this to get the most from your skiing, so make sure your skis aren't a limiter.

Prepare all of your skis to run their best with a fresh grind and hotbox service. At Nordic Ultratune, a grind batch starts every Thursday and  those skis are ready for shipping on the following Monday -- just 4 days later.

Return shipping is typically FedEx Express Saver, which is 3rd day delivery. So, skis that are shipped out on Monday will arrive back to you on  Thursday.

Here's the upcoming service schedule at Nordic Ultratune. Use these dates to make sure you get your skis ready before your most important races.
  • Skis in by Feb 28th will ship out on March 4th.
  • Skis in by March 7th will ship out on March 11th.
  • Skis in by March 14th will ship out on March 18th.
  • Skis in by March 21st will ship out on March 25th.
There are still service batches scheduled before the end of the season.   Whether you're prepping some spring grinds for the spring tour events, or getting skis ready for next season, it's a good time to get your skis ready.  Don't delay... ...fast boards are a joy to ski on, and they're a real advantage.