Inside the Factory: Skin skis are coming to the World Cup

World Cup skiers testing Redline Intelligrip skin skis prior to the Lillehammer World Cup in December. Photo: Stefano Zatta
Product developer Svein Ivar Moen expects to see skin skis at the World Cup level. Photo: Stefano Zatta

“I suspect that we will se skin skis on the World Cup in not too long,” says Svein Ivar Moen.

The former Norwegian national biathlon team wax tech, personal wax tech for Ole Einar Bjørndalen and product developer at Madshus, is certain that we have only seen the start of the skin ski revolution.

“As product developers, we always assume that the product we are working on will be used at the absolute highest level,” Moen says, explaining that many of the World Cup skiers already have and use skin skis.

With more than 20 years experience as a wax tech, Moen knows that things can get quite hectic in the wax room if conditions change right before a race.

“At this point, most of the World Cup skiers use their skin skis as a backup. They may bring them to the venue as a last resort if conditions change radically right before the race starts and there is no time to prepare another pair of skis. In those cases, the skin skis serve as a safety option. However, I am pretty sure that the skin skis will evolve to a viable race day option,” he says.

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Heidi Weng with her Reline Intelligrip skis at the Lillehammer World Cup in December. Photo: Stefano Zatta
Heidi Weng with her Redline Intelligrip skis at the Lillehammer World Cup in December. Photo: Stefano Zatta

Amazing progress
Moen points out that the progress in skin ski technology over the past few years has been mind-blowing, and that skins are now available on the top racing ski models including Redline. At Madshus, the engineers and testers are constantly working on optimizing both the ski construction and the skins themselves.

“We are always working to optimize the camber and flex, and the actual skin composition, the materials used in the skins, the length of the skins, as well as the length and stiffness of the hairs in the skin. This is an area where we are currently working on a lot of different projects,” Moen says.

The bindings will expand the use
Moen points out that the new binding system MOVE, which allows the skier to move the bindings forward and backward on the NIS binding plate without stopping to take the skis off, will make the skin skis even more attractive. These small adjustments can make a huge difference in the skis grip and glide properties.

“Moving the binding backward will improve the glide. Likewise, moving the binding forward will improve your grip. So if you know that you are headed into a section of sustained climbing, you can move your binding forward for better kick, and when you see a long downhill you can move the binding backward. This added flexibility will dramatically widen the use of the skin skis both for elite racers and recreational skiers,” Moen says.

Related: Behind the scenes: A passion for innovation

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The new MOVE bindings allow the skier to move the binding forward and backward on the NIS plate without taking the skis off. Photo: Stefano Zatta
With the new MOVE bindings, skiers can move the binding forward and backward on the NIS plate without taking their skis off. Photo: Stefano Zatta

Skin skis are a game changer
While the experienced wax tech primarily works on providing the World Cup racers with those marginal competitive advantages and mostly on traditional waxable classic skis, Moen considers the skin skis a game changer for cross-country skiing.

“At the end of the day, what really drives and motivates me, is building skis and equipment that fuel that passion for skiing regardless of level – fun experiences every time. Skin skis contribute to lower the barriers to getting started with skiing, and they make it easier to get out on busy weeknights. With skin skis, it’s just as convenient to go for a quick ski as it is to reach for your running shoes and go for a jog. And I’m pretty sure we will see the skin skis on the World Cup as well,” Moen says.

Svein Ivar Moen (far left) discussing test results with fellow Madshus product developers. Photo: Stefano Zatta
Svein Ivar Moen (far left) discussing test results with fellow Madshus product developers. Photo: Stefano Zatta