Do you really need to know how to wax skis?

by / Denis Kananen

The discussion about the high cost and health risks of fluoride ski wax, as well as its ban from youth competitions, made me think that this is an absolutely local problem that will never affect amateurs. And I was prompted to this dialogue with an Australian friend of mine, who is mastering his skiing skills in Sakhalin (Russia) being 50 years old, madly in love with skiing – preparing for a marathon in Sapporo.

The dialogue was very interesting. Shane is good at analyzing the information coming from the ski world — the Internet and communication with local skiers. First of all it concerns ski equipment — it’s no joke learning skate skiing at a certain age. But he is interested in all the attributes of a skier.


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He was sure that the preparation of skis is a mandatory skill, like a single-point rental, without which a person with skis can not call himself a skier. He wanted to buy a machine, an iron, scrapers, brushes, paraffins, etc. Imagine his surprise when I told him of my formula for the perfect sliding of skis during races and training.

I have absolutely nothing, just 4 pairs of skis and one is for the first snow. Before each start, three pairs are always ready with powder — I give them to a specialist, 1500-2000 rubles for each. And you shouldn’t grudge money on this!

Before the start, I test-ski all three pairs and choose the best one, I get incredible pleasure from fast skis.

Until the next start I have:
– training skis Karhu Mini, which I give away for preparation very rarely – they’re like slow training rollerskis;
– relatively fast skis, which I used at the last start.

I alternate them during my training. As soon as the time comes to the next start, I give away only one pair for preparation. Before the start, I test-ski on all three pairs and use again the fastest pair.

Sometimes friends were desperate to find quick skis and I give them a pair, which was the second on the roll. And before the Sakhalin marathon, I gave the third pair as well. Thus, they pay for the preparation of these skis.


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In the final analysis, if I had 10 starts in winter, I spend 20 000 rubles on preparation. I have a fast pair on training days and something to choose from on a race day.

Of course, Sakhalin has unique conditions in relation to Europe and the European part of Russia, when all winter just one powder worked well both at 0 and -15, and the snow was almost always fresh and clean. And my skis are directly from the factory, designed for my specifications. But that’s not the point.

Preparation of skis is an important part of both professional and amateur skiing. It’s a huge industry where ambition, money and a bit of magic intertwine. If you are too lazy to bother — you give the preparation of skis to professionals and they get poisoned and spend their time, while you calmly get ready for the race.

But someone likes to prepare the skis, to test, to buy powders, waxes, to spend evenings before the race themselves. No savings, if you count the time spent. But it is a certain fetish, just like among those bicycles that create a custom built bike for themselves from a wheel to spokes on wheels. This is the interest, which is also an important attribute of cross-country skiing, thanks to which people from year to year are engaged in their favorite sport.

So I presented two points of view to Shane. What will be his choice — we’ll see in the winter.

In any case, simplification and standardization are not the path that cross-country skiing should take. Let each producer invent something new, let there be new powders, grip tapes, brushes, etc. We will all have something to discuss, to experience on the track and to spend money on. As soon as there is nothing else to choose from — it will be the beginning of the big end.

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