Do you really need to know how to wax skis?

by Openski.ru / 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.

 

Photo Credit: Openski.ru

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.

 

Photo Credit: Openski.ru

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.

Transporting Top Coat Gels On An Airline

Q: I have been having good success with SWIX HVC warm and cold liquid Cera as a final top coat in humid (above 70%) conditions. I’d love to bring the two containers I have, but a friend says the TSA may give me a hard time in transporting them in my ski tube. Have you been able to transport these kind of top coat gels on an airline?

 

A: If your wax containers have the little flame symbol on them, you are probably not supposed to fly with them. So, I should tell you not to…

That being said, if you are checking a bag of regular standard sized luggage and equipment that will go through the X ray machine, you will probably be able to fly with them if your bag is not searched by hand. If they are in an oversized piece of luggage that will possibly be hand screened, your chances of being able to fly with them are not very good.

The safest route would be to buy the one HVC liquid you are going to need at the expo, use it and then figure out shipping it home.

– Joe H. (CXC Skiing)

The Choice of Wax in Different Snow Types

Q: Could somebody please explain how to identify the different snow types and how these affect the choice of wax, both glide and kick?
 
Also, after watching one of the Worldloppet races on TV: what causes the elite skiers to change tracks frequently? You often see them switch and sometimes switch straight back if the track is not as quick as they expect.

A: The best wax for any day must maximize two conflicting variables. As they say no two snow crystals are alike, so there are an infinite amount of snow types. But to begin think of two: new snow vs. older transformed snow. When snow first falls it is the sharpest it will ever be. Every hour each flake gets rounder. The colder the snow the harder these crystals. So new cold snow has sharp hard crystals that like to stick to wax.

This is why getting kick in new cold snow is easy while getting glide is difficult. Each hour/day or grooming run the crystals get rounder and kick is more difficult and glide get easier.
The warmer the air the faster the transition from sharp to round take place.

For kick wax you want a wax that is just softer than softest crystals so you can get adhesion and kick. For glide you want glide wax harder than the hardest crystals to get glide. The more moisture and humidity the rounder the crystals.



For glide the snow crystal types matter, but not as much, as in kick. The newer the snow the more you need a hard wax to resist crystal penetration. So you choose the ideal hardness based on the temperature of the snow and air.

From there: the wetter and higher the humidity the more you need to manage moisture by adding fluorocarbons that are hydrophobic. New snow is slower in glide than old snow and unforgiving in glide waxing errors. Old snow is more forgiving because it is rounder but the older it gets generally the dirtier it gets and the more moisture there is to manage(often).

Skiers change tracks much as nascar racers change lanes looking for an advantage. Every skier across the snow warms the crystals, so you can get different performance depending where you are in line.

Andy at SkiPost.com

 

Warm Weather Glide Waxing

Q: I’d like to ask a question about glide waxing when the temperatures go above the freezing point. We are having unseasonably warm weather with melting temps and possibility of rain when traditionally we are working with the coldest waxes trying to stay warm and find glide. I can certainly go to a warm weather wax, but now that the snow has melted and not yet refrozen, I’m afraid that a yellow wax is too soft to hold up on the skis. I know a dry base will not shed water, and I know that the right structure is important to helping break suction, but how does wax hardness (durability) factor into this. Any suggestions?

A: In the wettest weather you want a soft wax because it is more hydrophobic and lubing than the colder waxes. It will last 100km. The problem is that it picks up dirt. So you want a hard under-layer and then a soft water repelling top coat. The longer the race the more you want to go slightly harder to keep the dirt off.

When it is wet, fluors do really help. And help you buy time. A low-flouro layer of “Moly” or “Graphite” to the glide-zone before applying the warmer, wetter high-flour glide-wax will help with the dirt while giving the ski the right wax on-top, for the snow conditions.

You can get a block of warm flour and put it on top of the high-fluro glide wax, this will help speed the ski up even further, but will not last more than about 10km.

For warm and wet snow, use a wide shallow linear structure tool. Remember it is always better to go for a wax that is too cold than too warm, and too much structure vs. too little.

Andy at SkiPost


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Slow in the Tracks

Q: At a recent frigid race in the UP, we had light lake effect snow falling on a nice hard groomed base. The classic track was significantly slower than the skate deck, even after skiers from a shorter race had skied in the tracks. Nobody used the tracks from the elite wave. Some skiers with stiffer skis and medium grinds reported faster skis than those of us with soft flexes and “cold” grinds. Flouro didn’t seem to make a difference one way or the other. What was going on here?

A: In the new cold snow you were in the classic tracks were most likely slower because the ski base had a greater surface area contacting the new cold sharp (slow) crystals. On the corduroy, the skis had a smaller surface area trying to glide over the new sharp crystals there by reducing glide. If it was so cold and dry that no water layer is ever created between the ski and the snow the reduced contact area would help. If no water layer is ever created, than skiers skiing in the tracks would barely affect the crystals they ski over so the in tracks would not get faster very fast. If no water layer is ever created (and the snow is clean) than Fluoro’s would not be seen to increase speed as they do not have have any water to manage. If temps got warmer or if humidity increased this could all change very quickly.

Andy at SkiPost


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Iron Cleaning

Q: I was wondering what are the appropriate steps to take to clean a wax iron between waxing for glide and applying base binders (i.e. klister or hard wax binder). Also, my iron has gobs of hardened glide wax on it. What is the best removal method for this?

A: It is best to have two irons. One digital for glide and an inexpensive one for kick. Otherwise it is really difficult to make sure that you do not get kick into your glide or visa versa. But if you must share an iron, wipe thoroughly with fiberlene between jobs wile the substance is still warm. If you warm up the wax you should be able to rub it off with fiberlene. Worst case, wax remover but not hot.

– Andy at SkiPost


WAX ROOM – Cleaning and Maintaining Tools

In Humble Defense of Klister

By: CXC Team Member, Andy Brown 

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There are two kinds of skiers in the world, those who like klister and those that don’t. Many skiers cringe at the very thought of having to resort to something so “repulsive” and simply throw in the towel or switch to their skate gear when things aren’t Extra Blue. Why is this? What have these little tubes of goo done to earn their near universally shunned status within the ski community? Yes it’s a bit sticky, and yes it can make a mess, but there is more to it than that.

Here in the Midwest, we are generally fortunate to have plenty of hardwax classic skiing. Most days we can throw on one of any dozen green or blue hardwaxes and go kicking merrily down the trail. We forget how rare this is in comparison to mainland Europe and the wetter warmer coasts. When we think of klister, it is treated as an inconvenience, forced on us by less than ideal conditions. We overlook the fact that klister lets us ski more; that this little tube is doing everything in its power to keep us from sliding backwards despite the icy, wet, dirty snow. If we lived somewhere warmer we wouldn’t question this fact. It would be obvious that klister equals more skiing.

Skiers aren’t born with this unreasonable bias, they are taught it. The anti-klister indoctrination begins in high school where upperclassman described to the freshman the horrors that are contained within those little cardboard boxes. That if you open pandora’s box, your skis will turn into glorified snowshoes, your hands will become permanently fused together, and your dog will get glued to the ceiling. Within that tube are horrors from beyond this world, radioactive alien space snot, and heaven help you should you need it for a race. The freshman’s eyes grow wide as they listen to these tales and three seasons later they will repeat them to the next batch of impressionable minds. I know, I’ve done it myself.

With a bias firmly established many skiers simply avoid the stuff than actually gain any experience or proficiency with it. They don’t know how quick and easy it is to smooth a coat of klister on a classic ski by hand. My klister enlightenment came skiing at Elm Creek with Marc Beitz. The snow was coarse wet corn snow and no one was having any luck kicking. Marc took my skis and squeezed on chevrons of Rex OV brown klister. He then took his whole palm and slowly dragged it down the ski, smoothing the klister perfectly in one pass. Marc put his gloves back on, the whole process taking less than 2 minutes, no muss, no fuss. We started down the trail, effortlessly striding past everyone who were stuck herringboning the hills. Two hours of perfect classic skiing in the warm sun was our reward, and to this day Rex brown klister holds a special place in my heart along with Rode Multigrade klister, though that wax is story for another day.

The final reason for klister’s unpopularity is skate skiing. Yes skating is great and yes it’s easier to simply skate rather than use klister. Why mess around trying three kinds of klister when my skate skis will always glide. And they have a point. Klister isn’t the easiest answer, but like everything in life you get out what you put in. Challenge yourself to classic with klister and you will be a better, more enlightened skier. Striding with perfect kick in difficult conditions is incredibly rewarding and in a way makes klister more special than any pure fluoro or swix extra blue will ever be..

I have many great memories of classic skiing, a lot of them made possible by using klister. On those days klister enhanced my experience, not hindered it. If a little tube of goo can help me make fond memories with my friends and family, then I am proud to call myself a klister lover.

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