How to select the right skin ski

How to select the right skin ski
Madshus skin skis make skiing as simple as grabbing your skis and getting out there, from training to race day, touring your favorite trails or venturing into the backcountry. Photo: Madshus

The lineup of skin skis keeps expanding, and there is a skin ski to cover all skiers’ needs. But what are the differences among the models, and which one is right for me?

Skin skis are probably the most versatile cross-country ski on the market, covering all snow conditions and a huge range of temperature, entirely without worrying about kick wax.

“The grab and go concept is one of the best things about the skin skis: They allow you to just grab your skis and get out there. You don’t need to spend a lot of time figuring out the right wax, applying it and then removing it. Keep a pair in the back of your car or your roof box, and all you need is your boots and gloves,” says Petter Soleng Skinstad.

Skinstad, who has more than 15 years experience both as an elite skier at the national level and a marathon racer, was the first to win the Birkebeiner race on skin skis (FredagsBirken Ski, 2016) and is a part of Team Madshus.

Skin skis not only have made it much easier to squeeze in a quick workout on a weeknight; they have opened up classic skiing to a whole new world of skiers. But as the spectrum of ski skiers expands, so does the lineup of skin ski models.

The basics
All skin skis are based on the same technology: using a special skin made from mohair and nylon in the kick zone, replacing the wax pocket.

The skins are built like the perfect wax job: thicker in the middle and tapered toward the ends to provide optimal glide as well as secure and reliable grip in all conditions.

However, the construction of the skis varies, from World Cup level racing skis to recreational touring and serious backcountry skis.

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The skin is placed in the kick zone of the classic ski, eliminating the need for kick wax. Photo: Madshus

Here is what you need to know to find the perfect ski for you
“First, you need to take stock: What kind of skiing will you be doing? What is your skill level and ambitions? These are crucial elements to consider in order to find the right skin ski,” says Skinstad.

He explains that a World Cup level racing ski will be lighter and livelier, but also requires solid technique in order to get grip. A race-oriented ski one or two steps down the ladder will deliver most of the same properties and performance, but comes with a softer flex and mellower camber, making it easier to get reliable grip while still enjoying the benefits from World Cup level design and engineering.

The Skinstad brothers, who are part of Team Madshus, spent much of their summer testing the new Madshus skin ski lineup in different snow conditions. Here is how it breaks down, and how the models differ, from World Cup racing to backcountry touring.

Redline 2.0 Intelligrip®:
A top-level racing ski with a lively flex and 100 percent mohair skin for optimal glide and reliable kick. This is the perfect ski for racers and advanced skiers who need an easy solution for both hard intensity workouts and easy distance training, as well as a backup pair for racing. Redline 2.0 Intelligrip®Comes with the MOVE binding system that allows you to move the binding forward and backward on the binding plate without taking the ski off.

“The MOVE system hugely increases the range of use for the skin ski, from flat double-poling terrain where you want to move the binding back in order to optimize glide, to steep hills where you move the binding forwards to provide better kick,” Skinstad explains.
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Race Pro Intelligrip®:
“Race Pro Intelligrip® delivers a lot of what you find in the Redline 2.0 Intelligrip®, but with a slightly gentler flex. This makes it easier to get reliable kick, without sacrificing the glide. In my opinion, this model works just as well for races such as the Birkebeiner as for everyday training and as a backup pair for racing,” Skinstad says.

Comes with a skin made from 70 percent mohair and 30 percent nylon, for added durability.
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Race Speed Intelligrip®:
“Another race-worthy skin ski option, but like the Race Pro Intelligrip®, this too has a gentler flex for easier kick. This is a really great allround ski,” Skinstad says.
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Endurance Intelligrip®:
“This is also a ski based on the engineering from our top racing models, but with a kinder flex and softer camber, which makes it perfect for those who are just starting to get serious about skiing. Whether your goal is to enjoy cross-country skiing recreationally or maybe want to try a race, this ski will cover your bases,” Skinstad says.
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Race Pro Intelligrip® Jr: A junior version of the Race Pro Intelligrip®, delivering all the race-proven features and performance as our adult model.

Endurance Intelligrip® Jr: The junior version of the race-derived Endurance Intelligrip®, ideal for aspiring racers.

Racelight Intelligrip® Jr: The perfect ski to kick-start the love of cross-country skiing and a passion for winter. This ski delivers reliable kick and glide in all conditions, from the back yard to the racetrack.

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Petter and Mårten Soleng Skinstad testing Intelligrip® skis on the Ramsau glacier this summer.

For the touring and backcountry segment, Madshus has the following lineup:

Active Pro/ Active Intelligrip®: Made for touring and training in groomed tracks.

Nordic Pro/ Nordic Intelligrip®: A slightly wider ski, providing added stability both in and out of the tracks.

Fjelltech M50 Intelligrip®: A wider ski that bridges the gap between groomed track skiing and occasional off-piste adventures.

Fjelltech M44 Intelligrip®: A slightly narrower touring ski that covers both groomed track skiing and occasional off-piste skiing in firmer conditions, with the added security of a steel edge.

Panorama M62 Transtion Intelligrip®: Our widest backcountry ski, engineered with an alpine camber and flex, and with a full-length steel edge.

Panorama M55 Transtion Intelligrip®: The perfect all-round backcountry ski, slightly skinnier and lighter than the Panorama M62 Transtion Intelligrip® but fully equipped with a steel edge from the middle of the ski and backcountry flex.

Panorama M50 Transtion Intelligrip®: The lightest and narrowest of our backcountry skis, but still offering a full length steel edge – perfect for days with firmer snow.

Read more about the full line of Madshus Intelligrip® skis