The skin skis revolution starts now

Redline Intelligrip MOVE. Photo: Stefano Zatta

Catch up with Svein Ivar Moen, the head of the Madshus ski testing department, on the latest trends and what happens next.

What is the future of Nordic skiing?
“There is a lot of weather out there, snow storms and giant dumps as well as prolonged and more severe snow droughts. This makes for unpredictable conditions, which is one of the major reasons that skin skis are so popular. They have been on the market for a few years already, but the trend now is that more and more racers want to take advantage of the convenience even for competitions. The MOVE binding that allow you to change the position of the binding on the ski to adjust for better grip or more glide make the skin skis even more tuned in to each skier’s individual technique and specific needs. So I think we have just seen the start of the skin skis revolution.”

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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

Will this mean the end of traditional waxable classic skis?
“I don’t think so, but it will be interesting to see what happens. Skin skis have certainly made classic skiing more available to a huge new group of skiers. But we also see that the skin skis help people rediscover skiing. People who maybe had bad experiences with poorly waxed skis in their childhood and stopped skiing are now coming back to the sport. That’s really nice to see. Also, skin skis make it so easy to get out. You don’t have to spend any time waxing, which makes them a convenient option for weeknights and help a lot of people get outside after work. We notice that a lot of people buy skin skis for the tricky days and the busy days. However, just because more people and even elite racers try and buy skin skis, traditional waxable skis are still faster, especially in cold conditions. Accordingly, a lot of people will have a pair of cold conditions skis that they use when its easy Extra Blue waxing, but they increasingly use skin skis over klister skis for the warm and difficult days. ”

How does this affect the way you work?
“So far, the main target group for skin skis have been recreational skiers and as a second pair for racers. We have spent a lot of energy on making sure the skin skis have reliable grip and sufficient glide to provide a good skiing experience for most people. But now we see more interest among elite skiers for using skin skis even in high-level competitions. Elite skiers are more demanding, which means we have to work even harder to build skis with better glide, more precise flex and cambers.”

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What specifically do the elite racers ask for?
“Elite racers have more specific requirements, especially in terms of glide. They need the skin skis to match or outperform the waxable skis. This winter, we have done a lot of testing to tune these properties and we have tried some new skin materials. Skins are designed to act like a perfectly waxed ski, which means they are progressively thicker toward the middle. In order to accommodate that, the flex and cambers more resemble that of klister skis. This winter we have worked hard on adjusting the ski construction to provide better glide and at the same time allow for reliable kick. We also experiment with various base materials and grinds. So for the upcoming ski season, we are launching some entirely new models that will have even better glide.”

Svein Ivar Moen (left), Haakan Nordbäck and Peter Blom comparing their findings during a test camp at Sjusjøen. Photo: Stefano Zatta