Traveling Ted is a blog that takes readers along on my adventures hiking, canoeing, skiing, and international backpacking. Many blogs focus on one aspect of backpacking, but I tackle both the outdoor adventure side and international exploration as well.

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Madshus skis Birkie

Madshus skis would be the ski for me for this year’s Birkie

Picking up Madshus skis

When I picked up a pair of Madshus skis at the American Birkebeiner expo, I almost threw them in the air they were so light. You know that feeling when you anticipate something heavy and you brace to pick it up only to find it is much lighter than expected? That is how I felt when I first handled the skis.

They felt this way for good reason.  Madshus nanosonic skis are the second lightest cross-country ski on the market. The first is also made by Madshus. Madshus is located in the Nordic skiing homeland of Norway, and they have been around since 1906. The name of the company is pronounced like matches, except the us is enunciated instead of an “e” sound at the end. They produce all of their skis in Norway with the finest materials available.

Madshus skis Birkie expo

Picking up my bib and a pair of Madshus skis at the Birkie expo

I could not wait to try them on, and I did not have long to wait. Less than 24 hours later I was at the start of my third Birkie with the Madshus skis, shoes, and poles ready to go. I really wanted to beat my time of the previous year of 5:34 minutes, but with over 15 inches of fresh snow on the ground from a blizzard that struck two days before, I knew this was not going to be easy.

2014 Birkie start

Beautiful but cold start to the 2014 Birkie

Last year, I borrowed a pair of Fischers skis. They were fantastic and had great glide thanks to the fantastic work of Devils Track Nordic  in Grand Marais, Minnesota who hot waxed my skis a couple of days prior. I did not get a good kick wax going as I did this myself, and it was my first time using wax, so it was no surprise that it did not go well.

Ben from Madshus skis told me via email that they would make sure the skis were waxed prior to the race. It did not take long to find out that they did a tremendous job on both the kick and the glide.

Birkie waxing

Trying to get my wax on at last yea’r Birkie

Wax on/wax off

For those unfamiliar with waxing, there are two important techniques. A glide wax is applied by a hot iron and helps keep your glide going downhill. A kick wax is applied to the are just under your feet and grips  the snow and gives you momentum especially going uphill and on flat surfaces. If done right, but techniques save a lot of manual effort and help you go faster and save you much needed stamina for the 54 kilometer Birkie Race.  

I had never skied with a good kick wax. It was great how I could climb uphill sections with less effort. There were times where I was neck and neck with another competitor who was grinding away at the uphill sections while I nonchalantly kicked uphill with half the effort.

Madshus skis

Madshus skis and boots on the Birkie Trail

The Birkebeiner race

The Madshus skis also had a great glide that was equal to the Fischer skis from the year before. I made up a lot of ground on other skiers who on downhill sections were ahead of me by continuing my glide longer after they stopped and began kicking.

It was an interesting experience racing with two different kinds of skis over the last two years. I definitely give the nod to Madshus although the Fischer skis were great too. The Madshus are a little more expensive, but they are quality and worth it.

I finished with a time of 5:34, which was 3 minutes slower than last year. Even though I had a faster time on Fischer skis, I think when you weigh the variables; my performance from this year validates the Madshus skis.  

Birkie

A lot of snow led to a beautiful forest, but tough skiing

Bad racing conditions

Everyone stated that the conditions were the worst for fast skiing that they had seen in a long while. I had breakfast the next morning with a Worldloppet Master skier Andy Johnsen who had just completed his 35th Birkie, and he said the conditions were the toughest he had seen. If anyone would know, it would be him.

Also, I was in better skiing shape last year. I got off to a slow start conditioning wise this year after December/January trips to Asia and Florida. Last year I did more running too, so I had better stamina last year.

Bottom line is Madshus Skis rock

The bottom line though is that Madshus skis are a pair I would recommend to anyone. I also was provided with a pair of boots and poles, and I was equally impressed with the performance of both. The poles were extremely light and the shoes were quite comfortable.

Post Birkie pose

Post Birkie with the Madshus skis

Madshus graciously lent me a pair of skis, boots, and poles for this year’s Birkie, which I returned the next day at the Sunday expo. Their generosity, which was great appreciated, did not impact my thoughts on this post. I am sold on Madshus, and I highly recommend if you are looking for a top quality ski that you give them a shot.

TT

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