I received my first pair of Karhu's earlier this year. I needed an all-around dry snow skate ski, and a coach of mine picked a pair out for me at the Karhu factory in Cowansville- Karhu Volcan RS Cold, Medium flex 194 cm. I brought them home to Vancouver after Christmas, but I have been too busy, and the snow has been too wet (or too non-existent) to even bother looking at them. I had great intentions of doing base preparation work on them to get them ready for a good race day, but never got around to it. They sat, untouched from the factory, in my ski-room.
Until today. Vancouver (and Cypress Mountain) got a big ole dump of dry snow on the weekend, re-opening their lower trails and re-igniting the hallowed Tuesday night race series. This was to be my first race of 2005 (several races I had intended to do had been cancelled due to the miserable snow and weather conditions in BC). I was thinking about what pair of skis to use, and decided to test out the Karhus. I knew it was a risk, because I only had about 40 minutes to do some prep-work on the skis before I had to leave for the race, and I had never even skied on the skis!
I threw them on the bench and started working on them. I gave them one light sanding with a coarse fiber-tex (similar to 320 sandpaper) and then metal-scraped them 3 or 4 times. Then I brass-brushed them, then I plastic-scraped them several times. After that I hot-scraped them twice with Vauhti blue bulk wax. I let the third coat cool, and then applied Vauhti IR Spektra purple for a race-wax.
It was beautiful skiing: -2 and dry, hard-pack snow. The sky was clear, so the lights of Vancouver were laid out below us, and you could see Nanaimo off in the distance on Vancouver Island. The race was duathlon-format. I took the lead and had a 25-second gap in the classic race, before a stupid error caused me to end up face-down in the ditch, wallowing in soft snow, losing 20 seconds. I was in second place after the transition, with an 8-second gap to Vesa, my Finnish friend. I knew the Karhus were good as soon as I started on them. They felt unbelievably smooth and stable. I closed the gap to Vesa quickly, and sat behind him for a little while. My skis were noticeably faster than his. I took the lead after the uphill section, and skied hard but in control through the rolling/flat stretch. I really put it down on the long downhill stretch, and I put a bit of a gap on him, tuck-skating and just tucking in the track! We started up the long gradual uphill before the finish, and I knew it would come to a sprint. My skis made me very confident that I had enough to take him in a sprint, and sure enough, I was able to nip him by a few metres.
I cannot believe how fast these skis were, basically straight out-of-the-box! The best thing about them was how smooth the camber is. The ski kicks off really clean, and tracks excellently without effort. The balance on a flat ski is amazing, and they edge very neatly. These are hands-down the best dry-snow skaters I have ever skied on.
So thanks to Karhu and everyone at Karhu for a great start to 2005! First race of the year, spanking-new skis, and first win of the year. How could I ask for anything better?