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Waxing Secrets from West Yellowstone

Swix, Toko, Holmenkol, Rossi

Fri, Dec  2, 2005 - By Curt Peterson

This year's West Yellowstone Thanksgiving Week Ski Festival was the largest ever. Reports are of at least a 20% attendance increase over the previous record. You must really experience this event. Michigan Cup skiers were well represented: Ernie, Steve Sr., Bob West, Matt and Judy Vaijda (sp? sorry), Don Camp, Dick Fultz, Greg Worrel, John Johnston, Susan and Tom Brain, Peter Johnson, Ben Lund, Jen, our GRNST summer ski coach, and her NMU woman's team, MTU team, and Bob Gregg. Sorry if I missed you. Next year we should consider an all Michigan event such as a group dinner, 5km practice time trial, group lodging rates, Michigan Cup masseuse, team coach, or other ideas.

Over the week's time, numerous product updates were presented. I attended most of the wax information meetings by Swix, Toko, and Holmenkol and talked to factory representatives. Here are some of the highlights.

From Kevin Sweeney at Swix:

  1. For Fluoro powders iron 5 seconds per each side of groove, brush, and then iron 5 seconds per side again.
  2. Fluoro liquids apply with Fiberlene cloth.
  3. For sealed bases use the Swix course steel brush in 5 easy pressure passes.
  4. You can iron in fluoro bar and liquid and liquid products for marathon needed endurance.
  5. You can use the high fluoro overlays with an LF base wax and still be effective. (my note- ok but what if the overlay wears off and you really need HF performance which is a typical Michigan condition).
  6. For classic kick zone use 100 grit sandpaper and only move back and forth: not cross wise or serpentine pattern.
  7. Fluoro endurance: powder/iron 40km, bar/iron 30km, liquid- less.
  8. For new Fischer classic skis may go further back from heel for kick zone wax.
  9. Swix coming out with spray klisters later this year.
  10. On the world cup over 80% of skis are hand rilled with the "pressed in" rilling tools over a stone grind, based on up to date last minute snow conditions.
  11. Swix's new top of the line iron has +- 1C degree accuracy from set point. Could be a great Christmas present (Gussie, are you reading this report, hint).
  12. For cold wax make sure you use enough iron heat to have the wax not appear light or white. If that occurs you have air under or in the wax. If done properly you do not need to hot scrape which can take off base. If the wax chips you probably haven't accomplished enough wax penetration or ski bonding. (Gee I have been doing this wrong for years but my hot scraper is a soft polypropylene scraper instead of hard acrylic to prevent ski damage)

Toko- Ian Harvey

  1. For pure fluoro bars, roto corking is the preferred method over hand corking or iron for less than marathon distance. After the bar application use a lot of downward force on the roto cork and the cork rotates counterclockwise when viewed from the side of ski with the tip to your left and the tail to your right. A roto cork can also be used with 100% liquid application, like Helix and there is almost no pressure on the cork. . Also the roto cork can be used in cold, on site applications that normally would not dry due to the cold. For the Helix spray, go down once on each side of the groove. Finish all high fluoro with polishing cloth and fine blue nylon brush.
  2. Use Toko soft copper brush for base prep, before waxing, and 1st brush after waxing.
  3. Interesting classic kick wax idea in variable conditions such as sun/shade where no kick wax worked well in both: Toko base wax has reasonable grip and glide but not optimum for either. This was used in last year's Nationals as a last resort but is not to be used in warm wet klister conditions.
  4. Use 120-180 sandpaper for grip zone on classic skis and re-do regularly.
  5. For classic ski hairies, use 80 grit + silicone on the new ski bases such as those from Rossignol and Fischer made for this purpose.
  6. For the Nor-Am race classic (25F and new snow- med high humidity) Jetstream Old was the ticket with touch of yellow classic wax over purple due to glazing. No-waxers were just a tad off for optimum but a lot of skiers were struggling with kick at the top of Deja Vue.

Holmenkol- John Dyste

  1. Matrix waxes are the new formulated HF waxes from Holmenkol and are offered in 4 color ranges (yellow to green) and then (yellow/black to blue/black for freeze cycled snow for moly type added durability.
  2. Pure fluoro bars are offered as MID and WET. WET is sopping wet so MID is used routinely from 15F to 30's F.
  3. Nanofluid (pure fluor liquid) is new this year and is offered in WET, MID, and Cold. 30km durability. After spray wait 4-6 minutes to dry. Smooth with cork, then felt, then soft nylon brush. MID is good for new wet packing and glazing type snow- but not for sloppy snow. Temperature range of around 15F to mid 20's F. For sloppy snow HK recommends actually a PF 41 wet powder over Nanofluid and Cold PF powder is better than Nanofluid cold. (Curt's note- ok why would you consider the WET or COLD Nanofluid. The only reason I can think of is last minute application potential.)
  4. Older 0/6 paste overlay for wet falling snow- 10km durability. Put film on and "care fleece" off.
  5. Use of new fine soft steel brush. Final brush for cold cold wax and a 1 pass on fluoro top coats after ironing.

Rossignol- Jim Fredericks USA Nordic director

  • Not a wax idea but we saw Jim prepping skis for the Nor-Am race in which he used a painfully slow iron pace to insure wax penetration and that was his point. This is contrary to everything I have been taught such as 30-40 seconds from tip to tail with a low/medium iron temp. (Hey, if you get free skis this might be a great tip.

Final summary- You need to attend this outing as skiers take over the town for the week with the resident's approval. This year we were blessed with sunny skies, lots of snow, perfect grooming, blue temperatures, and walk to the trail accommodations. An interesting note in this winter snowmobile town, is that when I talked to the owner of the combo book store coffee bar, she said that the day after Thanksgiving was their busiest day of the winter. I was surprised until she said not too many 'billers come into the book store. We both smiled knowingly.

Regards, Curt Peterson