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Skiing in the rain

Tue, Feb  2, 2010 - By Josh Korn

Josh Korn is a Salomon National Tech Rep/Ambassador of Fun. This aricle originally appeared care of SkiPost.com.

There is nothing better then waking up on the morning of a classic race with fresh snow, blue skies, and 20F.  This is what I like to call a 'Blue Extra' morning!  What I mean by that is perfect glide, and perfect kick on one of the simplest tried and true kick waxes out there, Swix Blue Extra, or V40 as it is known now.  Clearly quality kick is not the only thing that is easily found on a day such as this.  From a wax techs perspective, a day like this makes attaining fast gliding skis simple, and hence a stress free day!
 
As a whole, a very large amount of the Cross Country ski community lives in parts of the country where this scenario happens few and far between, so we need to ready for the extreme conditions!  Those of you in the East know what I'm talking about, and to all you folks in the Midwest, you definitely know what I'm talking about.
 
This past weekend in Minneapolis, MN for the Wirth Park Super Tour / JOQ we encountered conditions as far from my ideal 'Blue Extra' conditions as possible.  For those of you who were fortunate enough not to have been standing in the rain for 2 days, I will give you a brief overview of the conditions...Rain, Rain, and more Rain!  Sunday morning for the 10k/15k mass start classic race, we woke up to 35F and rain, every racer and wax techs kick waxing nightmare.  Overnight temperatures hadn't fallen below freezing, and the snow was completely saturated.  In fact, upon arriving at the race venue we found actual standing water in the tracks on numerous low-lying areas.
 
On a day like we encountered last weekend in Minneapolis, ski selection was just as important if not more important that actually dialing in the wax.  At Salomon we have 2 different base materials in the Equip 10 skis, a warm and a cold base.  With regards to the overall profile/flex of the ski, they differ between the two.  The cold-based skis are designed to have a smoother profile meant for maximal contact with snow, for instance cold weather, or powder conditions.  On a very wet / klister day such as the Minneapolis Super Tour, going with a pair of warm-based skis with a more abrupt profile is the way to go.  The reason behind this is to have less contact with the snow through the tip and tails of the ski to help break down the suction created from the wet snow.  Another term used to describe this is 'Tip Splay'.  Having a pair of skis with good tip splay is important in the sense that during the kicking phase, the tip is floating through the snow.
 
After the overall profile of the ski, the absolute most important aspect of a quality klister classic ski is having a pair of skis with a high camber, or mid-flex.  This is of utmost importance when applying klister, and not having it drag.
 
Conditions like this make people complain about not having enough kick, but at the same time not having quality glide as well.  This can easily be avoided by having a pair of skis with good tip splay, a high camber, and appropriately marked wax zones.  The word at the Super tour this weekend was that 'no one' had good skis.  This was absolutely false!  People that knew their skis, and felt comfortable on them had good skis
With regards to assuring good skis in above freezing conditions and rain, adding additional structure to the ski is very important.  This past weekend with temperatures around 35F, and totally saturated snow, having enough hand structure in your ski was essential to having a fast ski.  I was doing race service with Swix that day, and went with a 2.0 mm Linear rill applied with the Swix 'Super Riller' T0401, with a 1.0 mm Broken V applied with a Swix T0403, over the top.
 
Just because conditions get a little bit crazy, or out of the ordinary, don't be concerned, be sure to keep it simple, know your skis, and pick the right pair for the day.