Update from Up Front: Clarifying Ski Marking

Bib order

Those of us lucky enough to have snagged an Elite Wave start got two interesting emails (if you don’t care about this, just skip this post). First, our bib number. In general, in recent years, the Birkie has given you a bib matching your finish from the year before. Finished in 92nd place? You ski in bib 92. Finish in 200th place? 200 for you.

They then inserted other skiers into the unused slots from people not skiing (people who petition their way into the elite wave: IYKYK) and if the Elite Wave started out with more than 200 skiers a few numbers over 200 might be used. (For women, it would be 500+finish place.)

This year something seems to have changed. I’m not exactly sure what it is—and I should note that none of this matters one bit—but they seem to have ordered everyone and then assigned numbers, so everyone is skiing ahead of their place. It may be that they ranked previous year skiers and assigned the bibs in order, and then put new skiers at the end, or that they ranked everyone by expected finish, and assigned the bibs. We’ll know on race day. Maybe.

Ski Marking

The big thing, though, is fluoro waxes. They are banned for everyone, but the ban is being enforced for Elite Wave skiers. Here’s a summation updated with some clarification from the Birkie office of the 800-plus word email which was sent to Elite Wave freestyle skiers:

  • The Birkie is the Worldwide Leader in non-fluorinated sports since FIS is dragging their feet. Thou shalt not use flouros. Fluoros are bad but they make your skis fast. (Although if it’s -4˚, not that much faster.)
  • So they’re bring back ski marking! In the long ago past, there was a ski check at the Birkie. Someone reporting to the TD would mark your skis (with your number, or maybe just an X) with a sharpie and off you’d go. It used to be more of a thing, although I used to also do way more non-Birkie USSA/FIS-sanctioned races, so maybe it still is a thing. But while it’s not required by FIS, it is being used by the Birkie to mark skis which have been tested for fluoros. (The idea is that you have to finish on the same skis you started on, although with an allowance for a swap for broken equipment.)
  • Both women and men will have to check in at the ski control check starting at 7:45, for women until 8:20 (10 minutes before the start) and men until 8:30 (20 minutes before the start). Ski check will take approximately 10 minutes. Once your skis are marked, they can’t come out of the start area.
  • Once their skis are marked, skiers can move freely in and out of the start area, and ski racks will be provided in the start area for the quarantined skis. This will allow skiers to make a last-minute trip to the bathroom or baggage truck.
  • The Birkie is suggesting that skiers complete ski check early to avoid any unnecessary waits; late-arriving skiers will not be accommodated with a later start. Given that this is the first year of this process, I would suggest arriving early and leaving extra time if you are in the Elite Wave.
  • You can have extra warm-up skis, and it seems that you can go in and out of the Elite Wave pen without your skis, but this, too, is not particularly clear. You can’t put them on a baggage truck, so unless you have a parking pass, you can’t really use them. (I guess you could leave them at the start area and pick them up much later.)

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