Summer Storage Waxing for Nordic Skis

At the end of the season, it is so tempting to just leave the skis the way they are and walk away. There is a price to pay for this though: slow skis that need to be stoneground. Here are some basic steps to take at the end of the season that you will be grateful for come early winter:

  1. Clean any kick wax or klister completely off the ski bases using Waxremover or GelClean.
  2. Clean and copper brush your bases very well so the bases are clean. Quite often in the spring, the snow is very dirty. You want to remove any dirt you might have picked up. This includes not only brushing the skis out well with a copper brush but probably also using wax remover. If ski bases are dirty, apply wax remover and then brush well with a copper brush through the wax remover before cleaning. You might need to do this multiple times. Powder snow, which is what is commonly skied on in the fall is extremely sensitive to dirt. Dirty skis will be especially slow in early season snow.
  3. Hot wax the bases with Base Performance Red. Red is the perfect consistency for storage waxing. A harder wax can yield air pockets and a softer wax can get “eaten up” over the summer. Make sure to use a lot of wax for maximum protection.
  4. Store the skis in a place or fashion where they will not get very dirty or dusty. If they do get dirty during storage, be sure to scrape the ski bases before heating wax in (do not reheat the dirty summer storage wax!).
  5. I like to use this time of year to make sure that my klister tubes are closed completely so they don’t leak out over the summer.

Additionally, consider storing opened klister tubes in a colder place to prevent leakage.

***

This advisory is courtesy of TokoUS.com

 

“Fighting” the Skis When Classical Skiing Downhills

Q: I have over 30 years of skiing and racing, but starting last year, and beginning again this year, when classical skiing downhills I have to “fight” the skis as they want to drift out, or the tips of each ski to cross each other. Don’t have any issues when skating, I’m thinking it’s because the skating boot has a more rigid feel on the ski while classical boots have a looser feel because the heel needs to be off the back of the ski more. I’m doing something wrong because I could ski downhills with no problems in the past. I consider myself a really good downhill skier.

 

A: I can try my best to answer your question from a few different possible areas. 

1) THE SKIS

It could be possible that your current classic skis are too soft in terms of flex. This can happen with skate skis as well, and the most common term I’ve heard (and used) is “squirrely” to describe skis that wander. 

Essentially, if a ski is too soft it means the tips and tails will not have enough contact pressure with the snow…I suppose a metaphor might be the balance required to ride a unicycle versus a bike. It’s easier to balance on a bike (or well-flexed skis) because of the larger contact area distributing pressure over a bigger space, whereas on a unicycle everything is right under you. 

It might be an interesting experiment to swap skis with a skiing partner or two (COVID-concerns taken into account) to see if you feel the same type of experience on other pairs, which could rule out or confirm this theory. 

2) HIP AND ANKLE STRENGTH

In terms of your body and being able to respond to downhills and ski control, two critical areas are the ankles and hips. The ankles, most directly, impact ski control through their strength and coordination. You’re correct that without skate boots there is a bit more control needed…this is great on the climbs because when classic skiing you really want to feel the full range of motion when rolling the foot through the kick. However there’s less support for descents. 

Ankle strengthening exercises are numerous if you look at some PT sites for rolled ankles…lots of common ones include writing out the alphabet with each foot, or using a long sock with some weight in it to make “foot circles” in the air for strengthening. 

People often underestimate how much the hips can impact the stability and control a skier has, too. Even if you weren’t writing-in about this topic, I’d still suggest taking some time each week to incorporate hip strengthening through the use of resistance bands which are cheap and generally easy-to-find. 

The stronger the hips and ankles, the more you should be able to control the skis without using too much extra energy! 

Hope those are, at the very least, some helpful starting points. Happy skiing-

– Adam Terko, Mt. Mansfield Nordic Coach

Source: SkiPost

The Right Tool for the Wax Job

If the proliferation of waxes, skis, training equipment and outdoor gear involved in Nordic skiing has you overwhelmed, it’s intimidating to think that you need even more tools to keep it all in good shape. Luckily, most skiers like to work with their hands just as much as their lungs. Here are three helpful—outside the box—tools for working with your racing or touring boards. Certain brands offer variants of these tools in a ski-specific format, but that doesn’t mean the traditional tools can’t get the job done. Most of these items can be found at your local hardware or home improvement store—the wax tech’s favorite retail outlet aside from the nearest coffee shop.

[Photo] Liam John

PUTTY KNIVES FOR CLEAN KICK ZONES

Whether it’s a frozen glaze of green hardwax fossilized on your base, or a runny pool of klister that looks like an avant-garde fingerpainting, it’s going to have to come off your skis when conditions change. A sharp, stiff putty knife is the best tool for the job. Don’t skimp on plastic versions unless you’re purchasing for a young skier, and avoid the flimsier metal variants. There are a lot of cheap options, but just like scissors or kitchen knives, your work will be faster, cleaner and safer with the higher quality options out there. Seven or eight dollars for a good putty knife is money well-spent.

GET TRIGGERED ABOUT YOUR TORCHES

Torches can be invaluable on race day as well as for home waxing. There are safer options for changing pole tips and grips, but torches work in a pinch. There are smoother ways to apply klister too, but torches work when you need them and are especially handy if you are without a power source for an iron or heat gun. Frozen wax bench components? Tent stakes entombed in ice? Time to reach for the torch. For the fastest and most efficient work, purchase a torch-head with a “trigger start.” Like a good stiff putty knife, these are more expensive than the typical torch components. But the ability to open and close a powerful flame one-handed, with your gloves or mittens on, can be invaluable. This is another item that is well worth the added up-front cost.

HAND CLEANER AND SOLVENT

Klister has a unique way of adhering to surfaces such as the snow, your ski bases and your skin. Scrubbing with hand soap does a marginal job with removal, and one popular practice is to put your hands right into your gloves. It’s common knowledge that the klister is magically transferred from your hands to the lining of your gloves, where it disappears forever. But there is another way. Some wax companies produce creams and salves that whisk klister right off your hands. However, you can also find products that do the exact same thing without costing a fortune. Most hardware stores, and, in this case, mechanic and auto-parts stores, stock hand creams designed to remove oil, grease and other car crud from your skin. Lo and behold, these products work for klister, particularly the creams that contain a bit of fine sand particles for extra scrubbing power. A little bit goes a long way!

Adam Terko is the head coach of Vermont’s Mansfield Nordic Club and has been skiing competitively (and writing about it) since before Fischer skis had holes in their tips. He’s also the technical editor of Cross Country Skier and writes the how-to column “Back Shop” in each issue.

Subscribe now to the print Cross Country Skier Magazine to read Terko’s latest column and more at crosscountryskier.com/subscribe.

Warm SC3 Grind

When the temperature outside is warm, having the right skis is going to be really important. The best skis for water skiing have good tip and tail float over soft snow and slide through the wet snow. Having a warm (aggressive, more structure) grind helps the ski avoid suction in waterlogged conditions, unlike cold conditions where we want a flatter surface to glide on. A warm grind like our SC3 is what will most likely be running the fastest.

As the snow melts the moisture runs out, but there is a lot of dirt that does not wash out with the water, it stays in the snow and just builds up. When there isn’t any new snow to dilute the snowpack and old snow keeps getting groomed, the dirt is churned in and will be in every layer of the snow. We know having dirt stuck on and in the base of the ski slows it down, which is why I am always talking about how important it is to clean that dirt out when we are prepping skis. The ski choice is one way that we can get ahead of that dirt. A white, or clear base ski has different base material that is designed to repel more of that dirt that trys to adhere to the ski. When you are testing skis sometimes the white bases don’t feel faster right away, but their value is really apparent after you have skied a few kilometers on them because they pick up so much less junk from the trail.

If you have any interest in wet snow skis or skis for next year, please contact Pioneer Midwest.

 

Selecting a Pair of Race Skis for a Ski Marathon

If you are fortunate enough to only have one pair of classic/skate race skis, you can skip this section. If not, please continue on.

If you are selecting a pair of race skis (either skate or classic) for a ski marathon, your first and foremost concern should be the flex of each pair you own. Flex is the most important, yet most commonly overlooked element of your race ski, yet most racers get bogged down with which grind or wax is being used. Assuming all things are equal and you have the correct flex, grind, and wax on a ski, the flex will do roughly 70% of the work in making your skis feel fast. In other words, even if you get a new grind and we nail the wax job, if you brought a warm/wet-flexed ski to a 10ºF marathon, you’re going to feel like we lathered your ski in candle wax and klister.

So, how do we find the right ski? Hopefully, you’ve had a hand in your own ski selection when you purchased them and have a good idea for what conditions to use them for. If not, most specialty ski shops have a flex board where they can use the paper test to determine your ski’s contact zones. If you wanted something more technical, Pioneer Midwest has a flex test machine that will graphically display your contact zones and Matt Liebsch could determine the optimal conditions for your ski.

In selecting the right ski for the right races, both your job as a racer and our job as wax techs get much easier, as we will all know the skis won’t be fighting you or the wax for 40+ kilometers.

What factors does ski length play?

Q: I’m a 5’7 skate skier using size 187 skis. Is it my imagination that taller skiers with longer skis (and legs) have a gliding advantage, especially when gliding downhill? I always seem to out-glide my wife who has high end but shorter skis. Likewise, taller folks I ski with consistently out-glide me on downhills.

If true, then we should purchase the longest manageable skis? Is skier weight a big factor?

 

A: A difference in ski length for two skis matched to your weight, of most commonly 5 cm, provides a very slight difference in ski performance if all else remains the same. And what you may gain on the downhill or soft snow due to longer glide zones you may lose when climbing due an inability to turnover as rapidly or handle the skis as precisely.

If you ski in the flatland and ski V2 and V2 alternate a majority of the time a longer ski will feel better.

If you ski out West where you are climbing V1 for long periods and then descending rapidly the shorter ski will often feel better. If the longer skis were in fact faster we would have skate skis much longer than 192cm.

That being said, heavier skiers often appear to have a downhill advantage as their conservation of momentum allows them to decelerate less than lighter weight skiers as the skis flexes over and smashes through the undulations of the snow surface on a downhill. If we descended in a vacuum, and not on a snowy surface, we would descend at the same speed, but descending on uneven snow often means that heavier skiers can often decelerate less as the ski flexes especially in rough but solid snowpack. If the snow is very soft the opposite can easily occur. But the lightweight skiers downhill weight disadvantage is an uphill advantage and a soft snow advantage.

Andy at SkiPost

Visiting Salomon Factory in Altenmarkt, Austria

by Garrott Kuzzy

“The process was enlightening, especially how the flex is literally baked into the ski to perform for specific conditions” – Garrott

Garrott Kuzzy and Jean-Marc Draeyer check out the finished Salomon skis after a factory tour in Altenmarkt, Austria

 

Altenmarkt, Austria sits in the valley below the face of the Dachstein mountain. The lush green valley is home to 4,000 inhabitants and about as many grazing brown cows. On the edge of town, past the cobbled pedestrian streets lies the Atomic – Salomon ski factory. It is not hard to understand why this valley might attract skiers, surrounded by alpine ski hills on almost all sides.

I stopped in to check out the facility and get a better understanding of how skis are produced. Jean-Marc Draeyer, Salomon’s head of race ski production, took time away from selecting skis for the world’s top racers and specialty Nordic shops to take me on a tour of the facility. Photos are not allowed, but the process was enlightening, especially how the flex is literally baked into the ski to perform for specific conditions.

At their core, high end skis are identical to airplane wings. Nomex is a honeycomb product known for its high strength to weight ratio, ideal for skis and wings alike–anyone who wants to fly. Sheets of poplar wood panel are glued and pressed to the honeycomb, making what will become the ski’s internal sidewall. The poplar is sourced locally, as the highest quality possible is necessary to keep a consistent shape for the life of the ski.

At this point, the honeycomb-poplar panels look more like something you might use to insulate a house. The panels are then cut into the shape of a ski. As many as 20 skis might come from one panel. The tip and tail of the skis are also added separately. The tips and tails look about as thin as a piece of paper and have no shape.

A metal mold is produced in the factory for each ski model and length. Each ski component is laid into the mold, starting with the base, a thin layer of carbon and another layer that acts like an arch support in a shoe. Next, the honeycomb-wood core is the most important ingredient in the sandwich, followed by another layer of carbon and the graphics on top. The ski in the mold is now ready for the press.

The ski press heats up the mold and components enough to adhere everything together. How are skis given their flex? What makes a ski good for wet, soft or hardpack conditions? This is not random. Before the ski mold goes into the press, one of 36 pressure points can be tuned like a Steinway to create exactly the desired flex for each ski. Seeing this took a lot of the mystery out of ski flex for me. The skis coming out of the mold are laser flex tested to confirm the desired results.

At this point, the product resembles a ski, but is still very rough around the edges. Literally. There is still material and glue coming out of the seams. The ski looks a lot like a sandwich with a few too many ingredients.

To finish the ski, it is sent down what looks like a 100 foot long Rube Goldberg machine for skis. Along the track, the sidewalls are cut and polished, the groove cut out of the middle and the rest of the base is ground to the desired specifications. At this point, the skis look finished, but there is one more step: each individual ski is flexed again, then paired together before being assigned serial numbers and prepared for shipment. If you look at your own skis, you can likely see the texture of the honeycomb pressed between the layers, ready for you to fly on the trails.

From the factory in Altenmarkt, skis are shipped to all corners of the Earth. Simi Hamilton has recently been testing his new Salomons in the ski tunnel in Oberhof, Germany and Jessie Diggins is training on hers in at the Snow Farm in New Zealand. Skis are also starting to arrive in shops, ready to glide on snow this winter.

See you on the trail,
Garrott
info@lumiexperiences.com

Ski Picking – what does that really mean?

by Matt Liebsch

I cannot believe it is almost time for our first ski picking trip of the year.  We are planning to visit 7 different race rooms/factories/warehouses/distribution centers between now and the end of September.  This will be our most ambitious travel schedule to date. We don’t really like to travel this much but it is necessary to obtain the best skis the industry has produced. If we could snap our fingers and have amazing skis show up on our door step, we would vote for that. The unfortunate truth is the industry as a whole lacks complete control of their process. Before I owned part of a ski shop, I worked as an electrical engineer and a quality/test engineer. This gave me a unique background in production and process improvement. At a former employer, we would strive for Six Sigma… look it up, but basically it means a measure of quality that strives for near perfection, or roughly less than 3.4 defects per million opportunities. That is critically important when building electronics for the aviation industry but maybe slight overkill for the snow sports industry. Just because the ski industry lacks anywhere near total control over their process/quality doesn’t mean they are not striving to get better. They are investing as much as they can in their process but they still don’t have complete control.  They are using methods and materials that inherently introduce variability into the end product.

What does this mean for you, the consumer? It means not all skis are created equal. That is important to understand and cannot be understated. Ski companies are charging the same price for the same ski but it is not the same product. Skis are a handmade product, made from things like wood, carbon fiber, foam, and fiberglass and injected with resin and pressed/heated into shape. There is a lot of variability in both the materials and the process. When you sign up for a ski request from Pioneer Midwest, you are not only signing up for a ski that fits you, but a ski that is of the highest quality.

QUALITY: When people talk about their favorite pair of skis, the thing that makes that happen is the quality, not the fit. The fit is likely in the ballpark, but high quality skis make the ski their favorite. I have a seen a lot of skis that “fit” but are absolute garbage. What makes a quality ski… in our experience, is low and even contact pressure within the glide zones and elastic response under varying loads.  The ski industry does not want to talk about the inherent variability in quality for a given ski model. The goal of marketing departments at all ski companies is to portray that one high end ski is just as good as another of the same branded high end ski, implying that just the fit (see below) or snow conditions for said ski are different.

FIT: Most reputable ski shops should be able to find a ski that “fits” i.e. the stiffness of the ski is appropriate to your body weight. The stiffness of the ski needs to be within a range, and actually, those fit ranges are quite large and even larger when the ski is of the highest absolute quality. The difference between a 94kg ski and a 98kg ski is negligible on a “fit” scale, but the quality makes the difference.

How we test and pick skis: https://www.pioneermidwest.com/resources/ski-picking/matt-liebsch-going-ski-picking/

Ski Analysis: https://www.pioneermidwest.com/services-125806/ski-analysis/

Cool article on trees to skis: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/28/sports/skiing/from-tree-to-ski-at-the-fischer-family-factory.html


Sign up for ski picking: HERE


Cores… wood and paper dipped in resin.

Pre-press, materials get assembled here before pressing.

Press… heat and pressure to form into shape.

Post pressing, before finish work.

Adam is in the zone after 12hr+ day of picking.

We are serious ski-nerds, lots of testing and multiple methods of testing.

Our latest ski tester.

We travel to look at a lot of skis, we bring our flex testers with us to quantify the pre-work with our hands and eyes.

Buying a GPS/HRM Sport Watch – The Basics

by FasterSkier

The functions are many on our wrist-worn data collecting training tools. And in some ways, the putative cause for that post-training bliss might be the very data stored on that GPS/HRM device when uploaded to your training analysis app. Maybe you notched a PR, or simply logged 10,000 feet of vertical gain during that offseason ski tour. Or … you simply like pinpointing precisely where your heart rate spiked during that pre-Birkie time trial.

Whatever your fancy, these watches marketed towards backcountry adventurers, endurance athletes, and training log devotees provide data for real-time feedback and week to week, month to month, and annual progression trends when it comes to training.

Like many commodities in the outdoor sport industry, brand loyalty can be divisive. The bottom line is that many companies make high functioning and reliable wrist-worn devices to track distance and speed with GPS and collect heart rate data. These devices come in many flavors; some geared more towards runners, and others towards those who demand an altitude reading and GPS waypoints for mountain navigation.

Andy Newell, founder of Nordic Team Solutions and longtime World Cup skier, had this to say about using a GPS/HRM watch for cross-country ski training.

“I use a HR monitor but almost never use any GPS function,” Newell wrote about how he uses his sport watch. “All I need is a watch that can time and let me know how many minutes I am in each zone. I turn off the GPS because then I don’t need to charge the watch as often. If I’m in the backcountry I just use an app like Gaia. I think for the most part elite xc skiers do not use GPS too often with their ski training because resistance is such a huge variable on snow and can even be variable on the roads depending on the conditions. It’s the same reason why skiers log our training in hours and minutes rather than miles or kilometers like a cyclist or runner.”

We asked Newell to query his collegiate group of skiers training in Bozeman, MT. this summer about what type of device they use and the basics about their functionality. Before we expand the discussion, here are the results.

What Type of heart rate monitor do you use? Please indicate brand and model.

  • Suunto Spartan sport
  • Garmin Premium HR Monitor-Soft Strap
  • Garmin Fenix 5s plus watch with latest Triathlon strap
  • Garmin Forerunner 735xt
  • Polar strap with Apple watch
  • Suunto Ambit 3 peak and sport
  • Garmin HRM-Run (HRM4)

In your opinion what is the best function of the watch? i.e. heart rate, GPS, multi sport, heart rate zone guidelines.

  • Heart rate and GPS
  • Heart Rate
  • The watch features many different types of sports and activities, it can track HRV, and it has the ability to be fully customized to fit the needs of most any athlete.
  • Very easy display to look at interval time and heart rate.
  • Multi sport
  • The best function of my watch (Suunto Spartan) is that it monitors my sleep. I am able to see my average resting heart rate, the amount of hours I have slept and how many of those hours were ‘deep sleep.’ This is a tool that helps me monitor my recovery from training load.
  • Heart rate and GPS

Do you download and look at your heart rate data? Yes or No. If yes, please indicate how you use that data. i.e. Keep track of interval data, race data, keep a training log.

  • Yes, to see time at each level and how quickly I recover.
  • I will look at my max and average HRs for interval sessions/races and put them in my training log. I also record a morning HR in my log, but take it by hand. I typically do not download and look at the graphs, though.
  • Yes I look to see what my max heart rate is and my average heart rate at the end of the workout.
  • Yes I look at what levels I was skiing at during the session
  • Yes. I use that data to determine if I was in the proper zone for specific workouts. I also record my Max HR during races and time trials in my training log, out of curiosity, taking the conditions into consideration, but to see how hard I push myself.
  • No, I haven’t in the past but I’ve started to now. I usually just look after the workout to see how hard I was working and if that correlates with how I was feeling. I’m still trying to understand it all 🙂

If your watch could do something super rad that it currently does not do… what would that be?

  • Have music downloaded on it.
  • Dispense peanut M&Ms.
  • Be somehow able to measure lactate.
  • My watch does everything I need it to do so I would have to go with voice commands.
  • I would want it to show my current speed which it does not.
  • Play music/connect to Bluetooth headphones.
  • My watch is super sick already!! Not sure if I have any ideas.

As Newell stated, if a watch has HRM capabilities and the ability to time duration in each specific heart rate training zone, you should be good to go. The GPS features come in handy if you want data on distance traveled, total ascent or descent, and speed. Or if you tend to be the type of athlete that mixes adventuring with traditional “training”, the GPS can be a precision navigation device. As a basic yet functional training tool, GPS is not a necessary condition. However, if you don’t mind charging your watch more often, the added bonus of GPS data is a nice feature: it allows for proper analysis of pacing strategy during training or racing.

“Both are nice info to have, but the main focus today is duration,” Øyvind B. Sandbakk explained about having athletes collect data on kilometers skied or duration of the training session. Sandbakk is the managing director at the Centre for Elite Sports Research at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in Trondheim and the head of research and development at the Norwegian Olympic Sports Centre (Olympiatoppen).

Like Newell’s athletes, we also asked Sandbakk what feature he would like to see incorporated into sport watches.

“From normal sport watches they use GPS for speed in a given terrain, and heart rate for indications of metabolic intensity,” wrote Sandbakk. “Ideally, we should also have integrated Inertial movement units (IMUs) in the future, that can detect what sub-technique they use and temporal patterns (cycle rate and length). This would also allow us to indicate the external power they are using (watts).”

Style options are many for GPS/HRM watches. The mainstays of the industry are Polar, Garmin, and Sunnto. You can add Apple, Coros, and Fitbit among others to the list. It’s worth taking time to determine your budget and desired features. For backcountry skiers/mountaineers, the added bonus of a barometer is nice for more accurate altitude readings. That comes at a cost. Which reminds us that these watches can be expensive.

A basic HRM can be found in the $50-$60 range. Adding in a GPS and more functionality can push the wrist-bling into the $250-$300 range. Add in features like a thermometer, safety and tracking, and music storage to name a few and it’s easy to launch into the $400-$600 stratosphere.

For runners, having built in GPS is handy for speed and pacing data. For trail running specifically, here is how Carbondale based FasterSkier writer Rachel Perkins uses her sports watch.

“I pay a lot more attention to mileage and vertical gain than I do during the ski season, but I rely mostly on HR for pacing since mile splits are pretty irrelevant,” Perkins said. “On roads, I rarely pay attention to HR just because pace and effort are so much more directly correlated.”

When considering a watch, the standard is to shy away from relying on an optical sensor HRM. The optical sensor sits on the underside of the watch and makes direct contact with the wrist. Even with technological advances, optical sensors still do not rival the accuracy of using a traditional chest strap to measure heart rate. (Trail Runner Magazine ran a solid story on why optical HRMs still struggle with accuracy.)

“But here’s the big problem—the errors are not consistent,” David Roche wrote in Trail Runner about the inconsistent readings from wrist positioned optical HRM sensors. “If it was always 5% low or 5% high, we could use that information (you’re probably having flashbacks to the accuracy v. precision distinction from high-school science class). Instead, it’s all over the place, and since 5% is an average, sometimes it might read 190 or something that makes an athlete write a panicked entry in their training log.

“It’s kind of like Michael Cohen testimony. First it says one thing, then it says another, so even if it’s right one time, how can you trust it? In this analogy, I’m not sure if I’m CSPAN or Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.”

Political preferences aside, not wearing a chest strap is handy, but for accuracy, the chest strap is the way to go.

If you are looking for a new sports watch and in need a deep dive review, D.C. Rainmaker is the best place to start.

The imagination can run wild when considering the possibilities of collecting data from our sport watches and becoming a more efficient and stronger skier. The type of IMU datasets Sandbakk hopes for may appear sooner than we think in the exploding marketplace for wearable fitness technology. But for now, if you are just entering the market and want specific heart rate data with no GPS functionality, a basic HRM may be all you need to track your training and improve. For parents shelling out cash for that motivated high school athlete, that might leave more money for new ski boots if that teen is hitting their growth spurt.