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Spray Kick-Wax on the Swedish Vasaloppet Course

Sun, Oct  29, 2006 - By Leif Torgersen Axell

In December 2005 we (Swix) started testing the new line of spray kick-waxes. To apply the spray, the kick zone should be thoroughly cleaned and roughed up with sandpaper; the same process as with traditional kick waxes. One single application on both sides of the groove is all that is necessary.  No corking needed! This can be applied indoors or out but must be allowed to dry before using. We found that as with other waxes, if applied too thick icing might happen, certainly in falling snow due to the tackiness of the spray. With extensive testing we found that other waxes i.e. hardwaxes or klisters might be put on top of a layer of liquid wax, but never spray on top of a layer of ordinary wax.  After testing in a variety of conditions throughout the winter we discovered there are no substitutes for klisters in glazing, wet, or icy conditions but as long as there is fresh snow, the liquid kick waxes work on both sides of freezing!

By the end of the winter I wanted to put the wax to the ultimate test. It was agreed upon that the famous 90 km Vasaloppet course in Sweden would be a suitable test. The stunt would be performed on Thursday, March 2nd, 3 days before the race day. 

That morning I awoke to see 15-20cm, some places even more, of new snow covering the forests.  Lasse our Swedish representative took me from Mora by car to the start in Salen.  The day before the skis had been glide waxed with LF4. They were taken out of the car and immediately sprayed with two thin strips of V40L. Only 30 seconds of waxing work! 

In the large, open start area, which is about 1500 meters long, the machines were working to pack the heavy snowfall.  It was 0850 in the morning.  I had my rucksack packed, containing 4 Cokes and 3 chocolate bars, normally sufficient for 6-7 hours of skiing. The weather was not too bad, practically no snow in the air and -9C. The surprise was, that this morning the machines had not started their work into the long uphill out of the start area.  Lasse and I decided however, that the machines very soon would catch me. They of course, had to pack the new snow immediately.  So we said good-bye, and I started my marching in the virgin snow.

After half-an-hour I reached a mark, telling that I had passed the highest point. From there, it is flat and gradually downhill all the way to Mora!  The skis were great; perfect kick and glide, although in the deep snow I could not see them! The machines had to show very soon, either from start or coming towards me from the other side. But no, for hours I had the heavy forests and the winter-land all to myself, not a sound, not another human being.  I thought that this is fantastic skiing, in the middle of the Vasa trail, that Sunday would be filled up with thousands of skiers, a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

After 2 hours sharp I reached Smågan. I had done the first 12 K out of 90. Sitting there, carbo-loading with Coke and chocolate, the machine form Salen finally arrived. It was just in time, had it not come there and then, further skiing would have been pure madness. Just following the machine was like being on a ski-lift! After 2 hours of heavy marching in the deep snow, everything now felt extraordinarily comfortable. The pace was suitable, but some places the machine had to stop and remove the edges of snow pulled up in crossing roads.  When the machine did work with the roads, I went forward, out in the deep snow again, but only very slow to maintain the body temperature.

At last the machine and I reached Mångsbodarna. Here we also met the grooming machines coming from the opposite direction. Trails were perfect, and the V40L was still griping and gliding perfectly!  However, I had been out there for three hours and still had 66 K left to Mora.  Fast mental calculation concluded that it would to be a fight to finish in the daylight.  Luckily I knew the course relatively well after competing back in 1965 and 1995 and knew that the last kilometres followed an illuminated trail in Mora. I also had to think about rationing of the food. A feeding stop every hour was absolutely necessary to reach Mora.  Another threat to my performance was showers of snow, now gradually leaving a few centimetres of wind-blown, not very fast, snow in the trail.  So, I steadily proceeded.

Passing the 45 K sign, half way, was celebrated by an extra swallow of Coke. Before the control in Oxberg, there are some few up-hills, not very long, not very steep, but coming at a critical moment; starting to get tired, and still a long way to go. I remembered them very well; it was just here I hit the wall in 1965, loosing my placement among the first hundred.  However, this time with no bib on my chest there was no reason to dig too deep. I reached the top, but now my body gradually started to feel the full days work in the forest. Some of the kilometre-markings, like 25 left, 20 left, did taste better than others.  Fortunately, the finishing part of the Vasa Race-course goes through easy terrain.

My skis continuously worked well, but I had no food left, and was in complete darkness when I reached the illuminated trail.  Even tastier kilometre-signs then came: 3K left, 2 K left. Then you see the church in Mora and you have finished.  Its clock showed 1840, 9 hours and 20 minutes without touching the skis.  V40L had passed the final examination!

Post Script:

Seventeen hours after waking up in Mora this beautiful day in March, I was back in Oslo.  It struck me that most days of your life pass by and very soon are forgotten. However, this day will not disappear that fast.