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Racers Prepare Skis For American Birkebeiner

Natalie Jablonski

Many Northwoods skiers are headed to the American Birkebeiner in Hayward this weekend.  As WXPR’s Natalie Jablonski reports, racers carefully wax their skis in preparation for the more than 30 mile race. 

Ben Koenig, Ski Manager at Mel’s Trading Post Rhinelander, is polishing a coat of glide wax with a brush of horsehair bristles.  As any seasoned cross country skier will tell you, a lot goes into applying and choosing the fastest wax. 

“Weather is a huge factor. Also the condition of the trail.  We look at the amount of debris on the course, the distance of the race.”

Koenig uses a torch to apply a binder wax to the midsection of the ski--what’s called the kick zone--then corks in several layers of kick wax to provide a good grip.  And though Koenig says he’s worked on quite a few pairs of skis in the days leading up to a big race weekend, many skiers prefer to do it themselves and at the very last minute. 

“A lot of the really hard core racers that you’ll run into in Hayward – they’ll be waiting till the night before, maybe making their final call at 5 pm, 8pm, some people stay up till midnight waxing their skis.” 

Just in case conditions change on the eve of the race.  

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