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Summer Maintenance for Skis

Madshus marathon racer Øystein Pettersen (NOR) works on his skis during a test camp at Sjusjøen this spring. Photo: Stefano Zatta

Clean, wax and summer prep your skis and in a few simple steps.

Madshus marathon racer Øystein Pettersen (NOR) works on his skis during a test camp at Sjusjøen this spring. Photo: Stefano Zatta

Madshus marathon racer Øystein Pettersen (NOR) works on his skis during a test camp at Sjusjøen this spring. Photo: Stefano Zatta

You have probably put away your skis for the season, but did you prepare them for a summer in storage and a new winter?

Taking good care of your skis not only make them fast, it also makes them last longer.

Glide zones left dirty and dry will oxidize over the summer, leaving them feeling slow even with new wax in the fall.

Nobody likes to grab a pair of classic skis soiled with old klister and debris from the last spring fling when the first powder of the new season arrives in the fall. Additionally, that klister left on the skis has a nasty tendency to get very liquid in the summer heat, and will run all over the skis and everything else in the proximity of those skis, potentially leaving with you with a really sticky mess in a lot of unexpected places.

Spend a few minutes on your skis before you put them away for the summer, and your boards will be fast and furious when the snow flies again in the fall.

So, exactly what do you do?

Jan Erik Berger, who has been a wax tech with both the Norwegian national team and several of the long-distance teams, shares his tricks of the trade.

Start with cleaning off any remains of klister and kick wax. Scrape off the worst with a metal scraper dedicated to kick wax or a klister paddle (those plastic scrapers that come with the klister tubes). Then apply liberal amounts of wax cleaner, such as Swix Base Cleaner or Toko Gel Clean. Wipe clean and dry with Fiberlene or shop towels. Feel the surfaces with your hands to make sure all sticky residues are removed. Don’t forget to wipe down the bindings, tops and sides of the skis as well.

Once the skis are clean and dry, start applying glide wax to all glide zones. Don’t glide wax the kick zone on classic skis.

Use a medium-hard glide wax, such as Swix CH/LF7 or similar from other manufacturers. Berger prefers the medium hard waxes for convenience reasons.

“Using a medium-hard glide wax for summer storage saves the step of rewaxing with a colder glide wax when you are ready for the first ski in the fall: You just scrape off your summer wax and go ski,” Berger explains.

Previously, many wax techs recommended using a very soft glide wax, such as Swix CH/LF10 or similar, for storage, but the soft wax is generally too warm for skiing in the fall.

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After thoroughly cleaning the skis, glide wax the glide zones. Photo: Inge Scheve

After thoroughly cleaning the skis, glide wax the glide zones. Photo: Inge Scheve

Make summer work for your skis
However, if you don’t mind the extra waxing step in the fall, using a soft wax for storage has an added perk: The summer heat doubles as a natural hot box to saturate your bases.

“This is a cheap, simple and safe way to hot box your skis, without even building one and no risk of damaging your bases. Just store your skis bases-up in a garage, attic or storage shed where the summer heats up the space to 40-50 degrees C, and you have a natural hot box,” Berger says, noting that this treatment requires a warm glide wax for best result.

“If you plan to hot box your skis this way over the summer, you should choose a warmer, softer glide wax for storage than the CH/LF7,” Berger says.

That’s it. Your skis are clean, waxed and ready for the next season.

Is there anything else you need to do?

With skis cleaned, waxed and put away, take a look at the rest of your equipment too.

Poles
Look over your poles and repair or replace any baskets or broken parts. If you are using the same poles for roller skiing, now is a good time to switch from snow baskets to roller ski ferrules.

Waxes and tools
Klister tubes that have been opened have a tendency to leak, and can pose a problem any time of the year. But the summer heat makes the klister thinner and runnier, and increases the risk of leaving a sticky mess on everything in the wax box. Grab some Fiberlene or shop towels and some base cleaner, wipe down all the containers, and make sure the caps are tightly on. Push the content to the front of the tube, and roll up the bottoms. Store them vertically in their cardboard boxes with the caps pointing up to prevent them from running.

“If you have refrigerator or freezer in your garage or basement, this makes a great summer storage for klister. Other ski wax can be stored at room temperature,” Berger says.

Clean off your wax iron, tables and wax forums, brushes and scrapers. Putting your brushes in the freezer for a couple of hours makes it easier to get all the old wax shavings out of the bristles.

Finally, do a quick inventory of your wax kit: Make a list of which products your are out of or low on, so you are armed and ready when you make the first wax run in the fall. Better yet, stock up now on the end of winter clearance sales. Then you’re all set for the first snow.

Bonus
The work you put in now pays off with interest in the fall. Once it’s snowing, all you need to do is scrape, brush and go!

Look over your wax kit and make a list of what you need to replace before put away the box for the summer. Photo: Inge Scheve

Make a list of what you need to replace before putting away the wax kit for the summer. Photo: Inge Scheve

Choosing the Right Race Skis – Part 3: Get the Most Out of Your Equipment

When you’ve arrived on your skis and they’re out of the box, then what? Theoretically, there is nothing else you have to do but go ski and tear up the trails. However, there are still a few more tricks in the box that help you get even more from your skis.

The NIS plate on which your bindings are mounted allows you to adjust the position of your bindings. Moving them backward and forward will alter the properties of the skis. In general, start skiing with the binding in the neutral position, marked as 0 on the NIS plate. “This is the point where your skis were measured and your kick zones for classic skis were determined based on this position,” says Bjørn Ivar Austrem, who is the Global Category Manager for Skis at Madshus.

The NIS plate allows users to adjust the ski by moving the binding forward or backward on the ski.

The binding can be moved 3 steps backward or forward, using the NIS key that came with the binding box. Adjusting the binding will slightly alter the ski’s properties, and in reality give you the benefit of having several pairs of skis in the same pair. Depending on whether its skate or classic skis, the ski will perform slightly different, but the principle remains the same.

NIS on classic skis: “Moving the binding backward on a classic ski will increase the glide, because you will sit slightly higher on the flex curve of the ski,”Austrem explains.

Accordingly, moving the binding forward on the classic ski will increase the grip. Using this opportunity, you can move the binding back in a flatter race with lots of double-poling terrain where glide is more important overall than monster kick. And for a hilly race with lots of long climbs, you might want to move the binding forward for better kick, and being able to get away with a slightly colder kick wax (which also improves glide in flatter sections of the course).

“Don’t be afraid to experiment with different positions and see how the ski performs for you,”Austrem suggests.

NIS on skate skis: On skate skis, the NIS binding principle is the same, but because of the ski and flex construction, the effects of moving the binding forward/backward is slightly different. If you move the binding back, the skis will feel like they accelerate faster, they ski easier from standstill to race pace. This might be a benefit on hillier courses with lots of transitions. Moving the binding forward is the opposite. It might feel harder to get the skis “up to speed,” but you’ll reach a higher max speed.

“You can think of the NIS binding steps as the gears on your car: Moving the binding backward is like using your lower gears, moving the binding forward is like going into overdrive,” Austrem explains.

And finally, you can adjust for different snow conditions. Moving the binding back in soft conditions gives you a little extra tip float. Moving the binding forward in icy or hard packed conditions will add a little more pressure to the tip and give you a more edge and control.

More on choosing the right race skis
Part 1: Construction, materials and what’s right for me
Part 2: Flex and Splay

 

Treat Your Poles with Care

Racing poles are delicate pieces of equipment, and should be treated as such. Something to keep in mind when you’re standing in the track banging your brand new top of the line carbon race poles against your bottom of boots to get the sticky snow out of the grooves. Don’t.

While they are designed to withstand a lot of force in one direction, they are vulnerable to impact in other directions.

“Top-of-the-line racing poles are made from the lightest, most delicate carbon structures out there. They are designed to handle a lot of force in one direction, but they don’t take being hit on other things,” Jon Fewster points out. Fewster is the Global Category Manager for Poles and Boots at Madshus.

“While most people wouldn’t throw their nice carbon bikes carelessly into the back of their pickup or bang their bike shoes against the frame to get the mud out of the cleats, people often toss their poles into the back of their car or bang the pole shafts against their boots to get the snow out of the grooves and bindings,” Fewster says.

“Don’t whack your poles against your boots to get the snow out. If you do, you greatly increase the chance that they will break in a finish sprint,” he says. (Article continues below the images)

Do not use these….

… To clean the snow out of these!

 

Use tougher pole for roller skiing
Roller skiing is particularly brutal on carbon race poles, as the repetitive pounding on pavement puts a lot of stress on the carbon fibers. Therefore, you might consider whether you want to use your best carbon poles for everyday roller ski workouts.

Snow is more forgiving than pavement, and doesn’t create the same kind of impact. Accordingly, you can use the stiffest poles more often.

Baby your poles
Fewster recommends placing poles in a pole bag when transporting them in the car and especially if checking ski bags with airlines.

“Take a little time to take care of your gear. Good poles are not cheap.”

 

Protect your poles with a padded pole bag in the trunk of the car. Photo: Inge Scheve

 

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