We get asked for lots of waxing advice throughout the winter, but the frequency of waxing related emails really picks up in the days leading up to the CSM and Gatineau Loppet. Here's a small sample of the correspondence we received right after last year's Gatineau Loppet.
I will be participating, for the first time, in the Boreal Loppet in Forestville. It is a 100 km skating ski race. Some of you have done it or have participated in 100 km event (penguinman) and, I hope, could provide good recommendations for waxing. Anybody that knows my choice of wax for the Keski knows that I need all the help I can get...awaiting your suggestions and also specific tips for that kind of distance...thanks.
Hi Megan or others on the team,
I did the 53km skate race as others of my friends. Several of us had waxing difficulties. How do you prepare your skis for weather like the one we had on Sunday morning when you are not part of a racing ski team? We now realized that relying on web site information for “expected to work fine wax” by race starting time could be risky if costly. Thanks for your time.
Just curious to hear what you guys used for glide on Sunday. All XC Ottawa members that I saw seemed to have really good skis. My Swix HF6 choice did not produce the expected results since it was much colder than anticipated. I think I would have done better with snow-shoes on!
I was wondering what wax did XC Ottawa decide to go with on Sunday morning...and did it work? Always important to learn from our mistakes!
First I will say that XC Ottawa has raced on exactly what it recommends on the website every year - 2006/2007/2008. We're not trying to trick you. All of our recommendations are based on testing the waxes Saturday and the experience of our Vauhti guru John Suuronen. You can attend one of his clinics to learn more.
We only test and use Vauhti waxes because we find them reliably fast, especially in Ottawa snow types. A blue glider from wax brand X is not the same as a Vauhti blue glider, so we can't predict if it will preform the same - we didn't test it.
There are some general recommendations when preparing your skis for a long race, regardless of brand you may choose. Those being:
- Start early! Most loppet waxing can happen days in advance, don't get caught trying to put on 6 layers the morning of the race.
- If you need to change the structure or get your skis stone ground, do that as early as possible.
- Before even predicting the race wax, you can clean and harden the base by applying a layer or two of Blue or Green glider. This will help with the durability of the top coats. You can start this a few days out from the loppet.
- Keep an eye on the forecast, but look more closely at the snow type. Waxes glide on snow, not air, so it's snow temperature and snow type that matter most!
- If it looks like it will be very dry old snow then the next layer will be a hard graphite or hard molybdenum.
- If the snow will be warm and dirty, then a warmer graphite or molydenum might be in order.
- Once you've got that far your skis are ready for the top coat! This is usually a fluorinated wax that you can apply the day before.
- Once you are finished with the glide you can lightly sand your grip zone with 80-120 grit sand paper then clean off the dust. Sanding direction should be from tip to tail, rather than perpendicular. This sanding will give grip wax a bit more surface area to bind to and help it last the entire distance.
- A base binder is always a good idea when you are going to be skiing for more than 20km. Keep the binder thin! A thin binder won't slow the ski, but a thick application might. The purpose of binder is to keep the grip wax on the ski, not to actually provide you with grip.
- If it's really abrasive but kick wax is still working then I recommend heating a few thin layers of the wax-du-jour with the binder. Cover this with a few layers applied when the binder has cooled.
- Klister is the ultimate binder! When the snow is old, man-made or transformed, very abbrassive, or wet then a klister binder is the way to go. Again, keep it thin as you will want to apply a grippier binder over top.
- Once you've figured out the wax-du-jour you can apply as many layers as your skis require.
- I can't stress thin, smooth layers enough! Apply kick wax with light pressure, cork every layer glass smooth and repeat as needed. Don't lump on extra wax because you are going 'a long way' - those lumps will just make it 'a long way slowly'.
Good luck to everyone this weekend and look for our Vauhti wax recommendations Friday and Saturday afternoons.