Birkie timing? Pretty much perfect

PSA: Remember that the Birkie Trail is closed today through race day. Yes, even with the new snow.

There’s no question about snow for this year’s Birkie (although it sounds like the trail was littered with leaves and pine needles during a windy warmup on Saturday evening, the new snow will cover that). Given the following weather conditions, which would you most like to ski?

  1. 15˚ at the start, 13˚ at the finish, wind chill of 0˚, moderate snow
  2. 10˚ at the start, 10˚ at the finish, wind chill of -5˚, several inches of soft snow the night before, some snow during the race.
  3. 0˚ at the start, 10˚ at the finish, wind chill below 0˚, a foot of new snow in the 48 hours preceding the race.
  4. -5˚ at the start, 10˚ at the finish, cloudy, light winds
  5. -5˚ at the start, 10˚ at the finish, sunny, light winds
  6. 5˚ at the start, 25˚ at the finish, sunny, light to moderate wind
  7. 5˚ at the start, 10˚ at the finish, sunny, light to moderate wind
  8. -5˚ at the start, 20˚ at the finish, sunny, light to moderate wind

Really only 5 and 6 sound like good conditions for a race. 1 through 4 sound like pushing the border of Type II fun. Remember 2014? Option 2 might well resemble that (and option 1 not far off). Option 3 would be better weather conditions, but more soft snow to fall apart on the climbs, turning the race into a much-longer-than-normal slog. 4 and 5 don’t sound too bad, with 5 being a bit better with the sun, but still cold, especially waiting around for the start. 6? It sounds not too bad.

Of course, these are the next eight days in Birkieland, with #6 being Saturday. #5 is Friday for the Kortelopet, which is not too bad given the later start and shorter distance (and sun). The open track race is going to be cold and soft, but with an untimed, smaller field it should stay in good shape. And the extra ski traffic, combined with all of the grooming the Birkie will undertake over the next six days, should create a firm, solid skate deck and rock-hard classic tracks for a pleasant day on Saturday. The only potential downside is that there will be an overall headwind, which may be especially pronounced on the Lake. But that’s a small price to pay for otherwise almost-perfect Birkie weather.

Stay tuned for a final discussion about the weather with Chief Meteorologist Ketzel Levens which will be posted tomorrow or Wednesday.

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