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

-Caitlin Gregg
American Birkebeiner Champion 2013, 2010

A big win for Caitlin at the 2013 Birkie.


John Barness said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
John Barness said...

Good post. Thank you for sharing it.
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