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Making the most of your skin skis is easy

Madshus Intelligrip skin skis makes classic skiing a breeze. Photo: Stefano Zatta/Madshus

A 3-step guide to perfect kick and glide.

Madshus Intelligrip skin skis makes classic skiing a breeze. Photo: Stefano Zatta/Madshus

Madshus Intelligrip skin skis makes classic skiing a breeze. Photo: Stefano Zatta/Madshus

Skin skis continue to top the sales charts, and it’s easy to see why:

  • Skin skis make it a breeze to get out for a weeknight workout.
  • Skin skis lower the entry barrier to Nordic skiing for recreational skiers who find kick waxing to be tricky and time-consuming.
  • Skin skis are great choice when the conditions change over the course of the day.
  • Skin skis solve the hairy waxing conundrum when the temperature fluctuates on either side of freezing.
  • Skin skis work equally well in cold and dry snow, in hard-packed and icy conditions, as in wet, slushy snow.
  • The skins are made to last several hundred kilometers, and are easily replaced if they get worn out or damaged.

All Madshus Intelligrip skin skis are ready to use right out of the box, as is. However, while skin skis are kick wax-less, they are not entirely maintenance free.

Roger Gråv, who is the head of the Nordic department at Sport1 in Lillehammer, Norway, offers a quick guide to getting the best performance the longest life out of your skin skis.

“There are really just three things to remember: prep, clean and glide,” Gråv says.

Prepping
The skins can be prepped with a skin-ski specific product to avoid icing up and globbing. Adding a prepping product to the skins can improve overall glide in certain conditions.

The skin prepping products resemble the liquid glider products that have been available for years, and the effect of these would be similar. However, skins require a special product with fewer harsh solvents in order avoid damaging the glue that keeps the skin attached to the base, Gråv explains.

He recommends using a skin-ski specific product.

“The skin-ski specific products are not that different from the regular liquid and spray on glide products, but the skin-ski specific products don’t have the same harsh solvents as the traditional varieties. The solvents can damage the glue, and even cause the skins to come off,” he says.

Skin ski prep is available both as liquids/spray-on bottles and also as pretreated wipes. Prep the skins when needed.

“You will notice when they need prepping. Typically, you will find that the skis don’t glide as well. Also, it’s a good idea to prep if the snow is really wet,” Gråv says.

Cleaning
Generally, skin skis don’t need any special treatment or cleaning. But if you have skied on trails with significant debris or dirty snow, it’s a good idea to clean your skins afterwards.

“You don’t need to clean your skins each time you ski, but if they look dirty or feel draggy, cleaning the skins will improve the glide. This is particularly relevant if you’ve skied on warm and wet or icy tracks where a lot of people would use klister, because your skins can pick up some of that dirt. Just check your skin and see if it’s needed,” says Gråv, noting that with black skins, it can be a bit tricky to spot the dirt.

“If you see areas of the skin that seem duller than the surrounding skin, or the texture appears flattened, that is often a sign that you should clean the skin,” he says.

Cleaning is a simple operation. Gråv recommends using skin ski-specific cleaners, for the same reason as with the prepping products: the skin-specific products don’t have any harsh solvents that can damage the skin or dissolve the glue.

“Traditional base cleaner contains pretty strong solvents, which can cause the skins to detach from the base,” Gråv explains.

Skin ski cleaners are available both as spray-on/liquids and in pretreated wipes.

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Madshus Intelligrip skin skis are ready to use as is, but in certain conditions, using skin ski specific prepping and cleaning products can improve both grip and glide. Photo: Stefano Zatta/Madshus

Madshus Intelligrip skin skis are ready to use as is, but in certain conditions, using skin ski specific prepping and cleaning products can improve both grip and glide. Photo: Stefano Zatta/Madshus

Gliding
Like all Nordic skis, skin ski bases should be glide waxed in front of and behind the kick zone (the middle part of the base with the integrated skin).

Glide waxing skin skis is easy, but make sure to cover the skin while applying the glide wax, scraping and brushing, in order to avoid spilling glide wax onto the skin, and protect the skin from scraped wax and wax dust from brushing.

“Covering the skin with a protective tape strip is a simple way to protect the skin while you work on the glide zones. Then just peel off the tape when you’re done and you’re good to go,” Gråv says, adding that most Nordic ski retailers carry such cover tape.

Get the right ski
With increasingly more skin ski models on the market in several different segments, skiers have a variety of skis to choose from: Touring, training and racing skin skis have different properties and qualities.

“It is just as important to get fitted for the right skin ski as with any other ski. Determine what kind of skiing you plan to do with your skin skis to ensure you get a pair that meets your needs and expectations,” Gråv says.

Roger Gråv explains how to get the most from your skin skis. Photo: Submitted

Roger Gråv explains how to get the most from your skin skis. Photo: Submitted

Passion for Perfection: The Daily Grind

Roger Dahl puts the same attention and precision into every ski he grinds, whether the ski belongs to Ole Einar Bjørndalen, Heidi Weng or a recreational skier. Photo: Stefano Zatta
Roger Dahl is the head of grinding at Madshus. Photo: Stefano Zatta

Roger Dahl is the head of grinding at Madshus. Photo: Stefano Zatta

Starting with the 2017/18 season, Madshus will offer our proprietary World Cup grinds to everyone. But what are these grinds and why do grinds matter? Meet the head of the grinding department: Roger Dahl.

Dahl has been involved in grinding skis since the first stone grinders came on the market in the mid- to late 1980s. He was involved with the Norwegian Ski Team’s grinding project that revolutionized the industry in the 1990s. And he has been grinding skis full time at Madshus since 1999.

“Everyone will benefit from the right grind. It doesn’t matter what kind of ski or wax you have if the grind isn’t right for the snow and conditions.”

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Roger Dahl. Photo: Stefano Zatta

Roger Dahl never lets the ski out of sight during the grinding process. Photo: Stefano Zatta

Putting his passion to work
On top of his 42 years of experience and a skilled hand for pushing the ski through the grinder, Dahl has a keen eye for detail and a passion for perfection, as well as a nose for invention.

“This is craftsmanship. It requires an attention to detail to a level that this is certainly not a trade for everyone,” Dahl says.

“You have to be meticulous. We are operating with margins that are in the fractions of one thousands, where just a hair too much or too little of the grind patterns separates the medalists from the list fillers,” he explains.

But Dahl thrives on the challenge. He is always looking for improvements to the grinds, and brand new structures.

“We always try to improve glide. We are constantly thinking about ways to adjust the structures or even come up with entirely new patterns.”

Dahl loves working with the community, and puts the feedback to work.

“I feel really lucky to be able to combine my job with my passion. One of the things I love about this job is that I get so close to the community. I meet a lot of people, World Cup athletes and recreational skiers, wax techs and equipment manufacturers, who are passionate about skiing,” Dahl says.

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Madshus dominated the Tour de Ski podium in Val Mustair (SUI) after the 5km classic mass start race: Ingvild Flugstad Østberg (center) won, with Heidi Weng (left) in 2nd place and Krista Pärmäkoski (FIN) in 3rd place. Photo: Nordic Focus

Roger Dahl makes sure the Madshus racers have the best glide. This is the Tour de Ski podium in Val Mustair (SUI) after the 5km classic mass start race where Ingvild Flugstad Østberg (center) won, with Heidi Weng (left) was 2nd and Krista Pärmäkoski (FIN) was 3rd. Photo: Nordic Focus

More than just a pattern
“Grinding and the research and science behind the grinding is probably the most important thing that has happened in this industry,” Dahl says.

“I’ve seen a lot of structures and grinds. It fascinates me how much of a difference just a small adjustment can make. It can be things like the speed of the grinding stone, the speed of the grinding diamond, the speed at which you feed the ski through the machine… Any and all of these parameters can make a ski great or completely destroy it,” he explains, noting that specialty grinds are not just for the World Cup elite.

“At Madshus, all the research that goes into making the perfect grinds for the World Cup skis directly benefits the consumer. I use the same grinds, the same equipment and put the same level of effort an attention into the skis I grind for recreational skiers as I do for the skis I grind for Ole Einar Bjørndalen or Krista Pärmäkoski,” Dahl says.

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Roger Dahl puts the same attention and precision into every ski he grinds, whether the ski belongs to Ole Einar Bjørndalen, Heidi Weng or a recreational skier. Photo: Stefano Zatta

Roger Dahl puts the same attention and precision into every ski he grinds, whether the ski belongs to Ole Einar Bjørndalen, Heidi Weng or a recreational skier. Photo: Stefano Zatta

Go general rather than specific
Grinds are designed to make skis glide better in various conditions. There are different grinds for different temperatures and conditions, such as warm conditions and cold conditions, new snow, old snow, transformed snow and man-made snow, wet snow and dry snow, and any combination of these.

But while the World Cup skiers have a large quiver of skis and grinds to cover all of these, most recreational skiers don’t. Accordingly, Dahl recommends getting grinds that cover a wider range of conditions, such as a more universal warm grind or a universal cold grind. The 9-6 grind is a good example.

“Our 9-6 grind is one of the most versatile grinds on the market. It covers a wide temperature range and will work on a variety of snow types from quite cold and dry to quite warm. Additionally, the 9-6 is a grind that takes well to a manual rill on top of the basic grind as well, so this is one I recommend as a good, all-round grind,” says Dahl, adding that the 9-6 grind is popular among the World Cup skiers as well.

Spring brings some of the best skiing of the whole season. Photo: Kent Murdoch

No matter what your goals are, the perfect grind adds to the experience. Try one of the Madshus speciality grinds, which are available from the factory starting this season. Photo: Kent Murdoch

Summer Care for Skis

Take care of your skis now and you will be ready to rock and roll when the snow flies next fall! Photo: Inge Scheve
Take care of your skis now and you will be ready to rock and roll when the snow flies next fall! Photo: Inge Scheve

Take care of your skis now and you will be ready to rock and roll when the snow flies next fall! Photo: Inge Scheve

A few simple steps to do now, and your boards will be fast and furious are when the snow flies again.

It’s spring, the elite skiers are just about to officially enter the 2016-17 training year and it’s dryland season. You have probably put away your skis for the season, but did you prepare them for a summer in storage and a new winter?

Make sure your skis are every bit as fast and good as they were for the last days this spring. Additionally, 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 over the hot summer has a nasty tendency to get very liquid and run all over the skis and whatever lies in the proximity of those skis, potentially leaving with you with a real sticky mess in a lot of unexpected places.

So what to 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 (one of 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 after 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. Previously, many wax techs recommended using a soft glide wax for storage, but the soft wax is generally too warm for skiing in the fall. Accordingly, 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!

But why not make summer work for your skis? Berger shares one of his favorite wax tips: use the summer heat as a hot box to saturate your bases.

“This is a cheap and simple way to hot box your skis without even building one. 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.

With skis waxed and put away, take stock of the rest of your gear too. 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.

And what about your wax and grooming tools? 

“Klister tubes that have been opened always pose a problem, and the summer heat just makes it worse. 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 standing with the caps pointing up to prevent them from running. And if you have an old fridge in your garage or basement, this makes a great summer storage for klister. Other ski wax can be stored at room temperature,” Berger says.

Also, 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.

And finally, do a quick inventory of the wax box. Write 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.

As a last bonus: The work you put in now, pays off in spades in the fall: once it’s snowing, all you need to do is scrape, brush and go!

Jan Erik Berger shares his advice for getting the best from your skis. Photo: Submitted

Jan Erik Berger shares his advice for getting the best from your skis. Photo: Submitted

Preparing Brand New Skis

New skis are ready to rock out of the box but a few extra steps can make them even better. Photo: Inge Scheve
New skis are ready to rock out of the box but a few extra steps can make them even better. Photo: Inge Scheve

New skis are ready to rock out of the box but a few extra steps can make them even better. Photo: Inge Scheve

So you got new skis? Congrats – and here is what to do to make them as good as possible.

Brand new skis need a good helping of TLC before they are race ready. It’s time to get to work, but perfect bases is not rocket science. We recommend the following drill.

  • Start by cleaning the skis well. Yes, even brand-new skis can be dirty just from transportation, storage and the sales floor at the retailer.
  • Use a base cleaner for the kick zone, and a glide wax cleaner on the glide zones and for the entire ski on skate skis.
  • Polish the glide zones (for skate skis: the entire base) with Fibertex and brush with a soft metal brush.
  • Heat in a couple of layers of fairly soft glide wax, such as Swix LF/CH8 or similar. Let cool and then reheat the glide wax again. Let cool, then scrape and brush well.
  • Heat in a layer of somewhat harder glide wax, such as Swix LF/CH6. Heat in twice, then scrape and brush thoroughly.

That’s it. Just lay down your boards, glide on and enjoy.

Additional steps for classic skis: Sand the kick zone with sand paper, and heat in a good layer of base kick wax. Then go to where you plan to ski, and add the kick wax of the day outside, on site.

And just a gentle reminder to get the season off right: Do a lot of no-pole skiing at the start of the season and reconnect with your technique.

Learn more about tuning and optimizing your skis with “how to” videos from Madshus Academy:

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

 

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