Birkie Prep with Laura McCabe

Last week I got a few calls asking if I'd be able to help get some skis ready for the Birkie. That's nothing new, of course - there are thousands of skiers trying to prepare for their best race.

But one caller was from Laura McCabe, a contender for the overall title in the women's division. Laura skis with the Saab/Salomon team and won this year's Noquie 50K classic race and recently finished 4th at the Boulder Mountain Tour.

Laura and I decided to meet to examine and test skis on the snow so that we could decide which skis were the best bet for this year's race. I asked Laura to bring all her skate ski candidates (5 pairs), all of them waxed the same and ready to go.

We tested the skis for feel and also used a speed trap to measure in-the-track glide properties. Laura has a good feel for her skis, and my tests (for feel) confirmed her impressions of the skis.

The speed trap was useful. All of Laura's skis have Ultratune grinds, and three of the pairs had the same structure. The speed trap was really useful in separating three very different pairs of skis, since the base structure wasn't a variable.

The pics show Laura tucked and gliding past the timing wand (top), and the lower shows Ultratune's digital timer strapped to her leg. The speed trap uses two reflective stakes to trip a light beam emitted by the timing unit. The skier starts from a dead stop at a pre-marked starting point and builds speed before the speed trap. Then the time is recorded between two points. Several runs are measured for each pair of skis.

The result? Expect Laura to be well prepared for the Birkie!