Weather Speculation: Race will be good. Race may be soft.

Headline says it all. The race is going to be great. Not too cold. Lots of snow. Plenty on the trail.

But the trail may be soft. Despite the Birkie’s best efforts to plow snow off the trail (yes, that’s what they’re doing with any snow that falls) they can’t get it all. So even if there’s cold snow underneath to mix with the new snow, it won’t be as solid a skate deck and classic track as what’s there now with a week of cold and no new snow. (Plus, the skate deck will break down faster; probably only the first few dozen skiers will really want their stiffest skis unless there’s a lot of water content in the snow and a refreeze, and that’s not about to happen.)

Now, this is a great problem to have. The headlines in 2017 from five days out mentioned words like “grim” and referenced the song lyrics “livin’ on a prayer.” This year you should only be praying you don’t only have a pair of super-hard track skis.

The details?

Seasonable weather Tuesday. Wednesday brings snow. The models are in pretty close agreement for Wednesday: 3 to 4 inches. Could it be 2 or 6? Sure. I’ll go with 3 to 5 to be safe. That gets plowed off and incorporated, and for the Korteloppet, Friday morning should be cold enough—down below 10—to firm up the trail pretty well.

Then things get interesting. The temperature for Korteloppet Friday (pretty much second biggest ski race in the country, mind you, although the Book Across the Bay may be larger) will be in the low- to mid-20s. Which is perfect for skiing. But after the race, two things happen. 1) it doesn’t get cold overnight. 2) it snows.

With just 1), we’d probably be in pretty good shape. The snow is cold enough down deep that the groomers could go out and pack the trail southern portion of the hard and let it freeze up. But with new snow falling on top, even an inch or two, and it being in the 20s, it might stay relatively soft. Firm and packed, sure, but not rock solid. Which, with thousands of skiers to come, might not be super-hard.

Of course, the first 20+ kilometers will be untouched. So they just need to get plowed off and retilled, and might stay quite firm. Except, of course, for the 1 to 2 inches of snow overnight, and temperatures in the 20s. If I had to venture a guess right now, I’d guess the race will be skied in snow or snow which has tapered to flurries, with clouds and light winds, and with temperatures in the mid- to upper-20s. Which is quite warm for the Birkie!

All this can change. The snow could stay south on Friday night. The main storm on Saturday evening—get ready for a fun post-race drive—could come earlier. The snow could taper to a period of freezing drizzle which could glaze the course right before the race (this actually could happen). The course could be skied with fresh grooming underneath and then a dusting of snow on top of it (the groomers can’t groom right up to the start, so if it’s still snowing, the corduroy gets buried). But right now all signs point to soft and warm. But not too warm. Maybe perfect. See you there!

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