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Atomic's new Skintec waxless ski technology

Tue, Oct  18, 2011 - By Rick Halling

Attention: Hard waxes and klisters - Love don’t live here no more

That’s right, take your old wax box full of nasty sticky stuff and just throw it away. After almost ten years of testing, Atomic introduces its Skintec classic ski to the general public. The idea behind Skintec technology? Atomic agrees with the industry that it is nice to have a waxless ski that outperforms waxable skis for those difficult zero degrees Celsius conditions. But why stop there? Why not have a waxless ski that is competitive in all conditions? That was the impetus behind Atomic’s Skintec, a synthetic waxless ski with excellent grip and fantastic glide in all conditions.

Atomic Skintec technology for waxless cross country skis Atomic Skintec technology for waxless cross country skis

All conditions, all the time. Atomic’s Skintec works in every type of snow.

A little history will help explain how it works. Many of the Masters reading this article will remember the early days of Mohair skis in the late 70’s and early 80’s. Those skis definitely had some problems, their glide was slow and they easily iced up. Atomic took two steps to eliminate those concerns. First, they went with a new Mohair material from the Swiss climbing skin company, Kohla. This skin uses a synthetic fiber similar to Teflon that prevents the icing from the past. This also provides far faster glide than the old Mohairs without sacrificing grip.

The second step taken by Atomic was to make sure the ski can glide just as fast as a waxable ski in all conditions. This meant creating a unique flex pattern designed specifically for Skintec. Atomic created the “Step Down Sidewall” with a flex pattern that is different from regular classic skis. Instead of the usual transition from glide to kick zone, the Step Down Sidewall has a symmetrical camber with the entire kick zone riding above the snow during the glide phase. There is a special highly elastic insert in the kick zone that then allows the skiers to easily compress the ski and get excellent grip with the Mohair.

Atomic Skintec technology for waxless cross country skis

Check out the bright yellow insert above the base. This runs only the length of the kick zone. This is the insert that makes up the “step down sidewall.”

Atomic began testing the Skintec technology at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. It is safe to say that no other race ski has undergone so much testing before being made available to consumers. Initially, Atomic simply took very stiff klister skis and glued strips of Mohair onto the kick zones. This is what the original Mohair skis were like in the late 70’s. Over the years, Atomic grew to realize that a Mohair ski needs a unique flex pattern and the strips need to be actual inserts, they can’t be glued on. An extensive number of prototypes were made and tested since the 2002 Olympics with feedback by elite racers from around the world.

Atomic Skintec technology for waxless cross country skis

A pair of Skintecs at the Boulder Mountain Tour in Sun Valley. Consumers and dealers have already had the chance to test the ski at several events with very positive feedback.

Atomic Skintec technology for waxless cross country skis

For almost ten years, race director Roman Toferer has been getting Skintec feedback from Olympic gold medalists with testing on four different continents in all conditions. Please, do not refer to this ski as a “zero.”