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Wax Rec: American Birkebeiner 2018 (updated 2/23 10:40AM)

BNS Wax Recommendation

American Birkebeiner

Saturday, Feb 24, 2018

Skate 50km/Classic 55km

updated 2/23 10AM

Event Information


Race Wax Service

Sign up for the 2018 BNS Race Wax Service for the American Birkebeiner

BNS is once again offering professional race waxing service for the American Birkebeiner. Treat yourself to a full race wax application by our pro service team so you can relax and focus on your race, or drop by the Birkie Expo Thursday and Friday to find out what wax is running fastest and stock up on whatever wax and tools you need to do it yourself.


Click for the latest forecast Cable Airport

Click for the latest forecast Hayward

Friday Afternoon
Mostly cloudy, with a high near 31. West wind around 5 mph, with gusts as high as 15 mph.
Friday night
Mostly cloudy, with a low around 7. West wind around 5 mph becoming calm.
A 20 percent chance of snow after 4pm. Increasing clouds, with a high near 34. Light and variable wind becoming east 5 to 10 mph in the morning.

Wax Recommendation

This is the final recommendation based on testing on site, the forecast, and our experience at the venue. See below for notes about this recommendation.

Click here for the BNS YouTube Channel for waxing videos and application tips.

Base Layer: Ski*Go LF Graphite. This is a vital step for durability and dirt resistance. Iron 140C, let cool, brush with Holmenkol Steel Brush then Holmenkol Steel Microfinish (Fine Steel).

Race Paraffin: Skigo HF Universal or Holmenkol Racing Mix Mid.

Fluoro Powder: Holmenkol Race Powder Mid (formerly Mid 08) OR Skigo C105 Powder.

Topcoat:  SkiGo C105/C22 solid mix OR Holmenkol Speedblock Mid 08 OR C105 solid

Structure: S1.3(skate) or C1.2 (classic) stone grind – hand structure Holmenkol Cross Structure Tool with one roller.

Kick Wax: Iron in a thin layer of Vauhti Super Base, let cool, cork lightly. 3-4 layers of SkiGo HF Violet. Later waves may want to go 1-2 layers of HF Red covered with 1-2 layers of HF Violet. Other contenders: Rode Super Blue, Rode Multigrade Violet, Rode VO, SkiGo HF Red (for later waves), Guru Red. See comments below.

Skin Wax: Holmenkol Skin Spray Racing or SkiGo Skin Wax Fluor or Holmenkol Ski Tour Skin Spray

Test Results

We tested on course Friday morning from 8-10:45AM. Temps were around 25F. It did not get cold overnight Thursday and there was 6-7" of new, dry snow. Friday night it will cool off a lot more than Thursday night, so we expect waxes to move a bit colder than Friday's testing.

We tested on the course Wednesday at noon-2PM due to that looking most like race temps.

Paraffin (Wed 2/21, verified 2/22)

  1. SkiGo HF Universal
  2. Holmenkol Speedbase Cold
  3. Holmenkol Racing Mix Cold
  4. Holmenkol Racing Mix Mid
  5. SkiGo HF Orange/Green mix 50:50 


Friday, Feb 23:

  1. SkiGo IR Test Powder (clear winner)
  2. Holmenkol Race Powder Mid
  3. SkiGo C105
  4. Holmenkol Syntec Mid
  5. SkiGo N21 Test Powder

Wed, Feb 21:

  1. Holmenkol Race Powder Mid
  2. SkiGo C105 Powder
  3. Holmenkol Speedpowder Cold
  4. SkiGo N21
  5. SkiGo C110

Also Tested: C22, C111, IR, OR, Speedpowder Mid, Syntec Mid, Syntec Cold


Fri, Feb 23:

  1. SkiGo IR Solid
  2. SkiGo C22/C105 mix
  3. Skigo C105 solid
  4. Holmenkol Speedblock Mid 08
  5. SkiGo C110 solid

Wed, Feb 21

  1. SkiGo IR Solid
  2. Holmenkol Speedblock Mid 08
  3. SkiGo C22 solid
  4. SkiGo C22/C105 50:50


Holmenkol Cross Structure tool with one roller over S1.3 or C1.2 stone grind.


Kick test 2/23:

  1. Rode Super Blue
  2. Rode Multigrade Violet
  3. Rode VO
  4. Rode Super Extra
  5. SkiGo HF Violet (not enough kick)
  6. SkiGo HF Panther (too draggy)

We are currently out testing more kick wax. Conditions are warmer today than forecast for race day, so we are making suggestions based on the current conditions and forecast.

Kick test 2/21:

  1. SkiGo HF Violet
  2. Rode Super Extra (Blue)
  3. Rode VO (draggy, but great kick)
  4. SkiGo HF Red (draggy, but great kick)


update Friday, Feb 23 10AM

The new snow came in last night with 6-7" of dry snow falling at 22-25F. Race forecast is looking like temps will drop down to the low-teens or upper single digits Friday night, which will cool the snowpack down significantly. Race air temps will rise to the upper 20's with the snow lagging behind.

SkiGo HF Universal is an excellent paraffin wax and will definitely cover this entire range. It is running definitively faster than everything else we've tried, so it is our number one pick. Holmenkol Racing Mix Mid is also running really well and covers the forecast range perfectly. It is also a great value at $50 for 70g. Most other HF waxes cost nearly twice as much. With the cold temps, Holmenkol Racing Mix Cold and Holmenkol Speedbase Cold are also great options.

For the powders, IR Powder has been running well for us in conditions like this all year, however, it will be too cold for IR on race day. When it runs, it really tends to run fast relative to everything else and the new snow really appears to be a good match. Holmenkol Race Powder Mid is also an amazing powder and wins almost all of our tests at the Birkie over the years. This is ideal RP Mid conditions - new snow starting cold and warming. We expect Race Powder Mid to be an excellent option, also at a good value compared to other powders.

For top coat, SkiGo IR is also running really well, like the IR powder, but this is probably not going to work on race day for early starters. SkiGo C22/C105 mix and Holmenkol Mid 08 are also great options and will manage the forecast overnight cold and warming during the race. We mix the C22 and C105 often for new snow like this. Apply both as you would normally, crayoning on one on top of the other, then hand cork or rotofleece, brush.

For kick, looking at the forecast, SkiGo HF Violet should be perfect, but you will want to have some warmer options ready to go at the start. We really like Rode Super Blue and Multigrade Violet on Friday. It seems unlikely that these will be in play, although for later starters they may be. SkiGo HF Red could be put in a layer under the toe to give a little extra boost for later starters.

update Wednesday, Feb 21 2PM

Our initial tests give us some confidence going into the race. Temperatures overnight were extremely cold (around 0F), so the snow is running a bit colder than race day forecasts are predicting. The winners from our test are all old stand-bys here at the Birkie, so there are no surprises; we feel very confident recommending them, even as it warms over the next few days.

Birkie Race day is looking like we will have 2 days of mild temps hovering around 20F, with a short stretch Friday night where temps drop to 13F. The snow will be cold, but should warm relatively quickly. Our paraffin choices both have ranges that are perfect for the forecast. Holmenkol Racing Mix Mid was excellent today, only slightly behind Racing Mix Cold, so that is why we recommended it. SkiGo HF Universal was the clear winner in our test and has been reported winning several other people's tests as well. Both of these paraffins are great choices and will improve with the warming temps, but also be able to manage cold temps as well.

For the powders, Holmenkol Race Powder Mid has won our tests at the Birkie almost every year. The only time it has not won is when temps have been unusually warm or extremely cold. There is something about Birkie snow that works with that powder. Race Powder Mid is excellent in new snow and new/old mix, especially as it warms from cold to freezing. Which is exactly what we have here - not only is it the Birkie, but it is looking like ideal Race Powder Mid Conditions. So, we confidently can recommend Race Powder Mid. SkiGo C105 is also almost always good at the Birkie, so we are extremely confident in that choice as well.

There may be a few wildcards that sneak into play as the snow warms, however. SkiGo IR Powder and SkiGo N21 powder have been running really well this winter, with N21 creating some ridiculously fast skis many times this winter. The snow has been just under the range of both of these powders, so as things warm up, these may come in hot and start blowing everything away. We don't expect this to happen, but we'll look forward to seeing how these do in tests on Thursday and Friday.

update Tuesday, Feb 20 2PM

As we get closer to race day, the forecast is changing with a small snowstorm brewing for Thursday and temps pushing a few degrees colder than earlier. Reports on the ground are that there was 2-3 inches of snow Tuesday morning that is mixed in with a lot of old snow. The forecast is now calling for a small amount of snow Thursday Night/Friday morning. This storm looks like it will add a little bit of new snow and possibly some freezing rain to the snowpack, but it probably will not change things too much from earlier in the week.  The conditions still look ideal and waxing should be straightforward - there should be many wax options that work well.

Base prep will be vital for the long-distances of the Birkie and SkiGo LF Graphite has been our choice at the Birkie nearly every year. With conditions looking cold and with relatively new snow, LF Graphite is an easy call to make early. LF Graphite will not only harden the base and speed up the wax job on top of it, but it will also provide extra durability and dirt repulsion, keeping the skis fast over long distances.

Historically, Holmenkol waxes run extremely well at the Birkie, and given the early forecast, we are confident that Holmenkol Race Powder Mid (formerly Mid 08) will probably be the call once again this year. It wins our tests at the Birkie nearly every year, and the current forecast fits in to ideal Race Powder Mid conditions. We will certainly test a lot of powders, but we are pretty confident that this will be in the mix.

For paraffins, we are expecting Holmenkol Racing Mix Mid and Racing Mix Cold to be in the mix, as well as Skigo HF Universal and SkiGo HF Orange/Green mix 50:50. These have all been running well in the midwest this year, and run well historically at the Birkie. Expect one, two or three of these to be in our final wax call.

As always, it is a good idea to have two pairs of skis with a couple of options in case the forecast doesn't behave. Given the forecast at this point, we recommend a mid-range ski for the primary with a colder ski as backup.

We will update this recommendation daily until Friday, Feb 23, 2018.

*Note: BNS imports Holmenkol and SkiGo waxes, and also sells waxes from Swix, Toko, Rode, Solda, Rex, Guru, Innovax, Magnar and others. We search for the fastest waxes for our customers and our testing is professional, objective and transparent. We make our best effort to test what we think is the best from each brand. However, given that we are testing more options from Holmenkol and SkiGo, there is a bias toward those brands. With this full disclosure, you can assess the legitimacy of our testing yourself. Visit Swix and Toko for their official recommendations. If you have any questions please contact us.