Friday, December 05, 2008

Waxing in Fairbanks

Ski waxing here in Fairbanks has some interesting nuance. First a caveat however, I may be about the worst (adult) wax technician out there. Nevertheless, this is what I know about waxing.

Glide wax rule of thumb: Wax cold and stay cold. Most of the cold weather waxes seem to work fairly well here. I've had success with Start Green, Swix CH4, Toko LF Blue, and Star LA8 and Star HA8. Of those, Toko LF Blue and Star LA8 have usually been the best. Even under higher humiditities the low flouro waxes seem to work pretty well. As we know here, once it gets down to 5 F or colder, adding some cold powder helps those staticky skis helps keep the glide a bit.

One nuance that I've found is that you're pretty safe with the cold waxes up to 20 F degrees or more, even though the label might say the range is below 12 or 14 F. Our snow stays cold for longer, even when air temp warms up to well above 20, and it is fine grained. This is especially true if the snow is relatively fresh (i.e., not transformed by warmer weather).

Kick wax rule of thumb: Wax warm. I'm still learning, often the hard way, about kick waxing around here but unless it's way way cold (below zero) you are better off waxing a level or two warmer than what is recommended on your tube. It can be 5 or 10, and you'd think that a cold weather wax would work fine, but actually a mid-range (recommended for mid-high 20s) will work best. For example, at last week's classic race in Salcha the guys who had the best kick were using VR40, which is for mid-upper 20s. It was about zero out there, maybe 5 above by the time we finished.

For very cold weather, I like Rode Special Green. I've had some success with Rode Multigrade Blue as well this year, but in the classic race at Birch Hill a couple weeks ago it was very slow. A combination of Swix VR30 and VR40 can be effective. Last year I was using Star Top Blue to cover layers of wax (sometimes greens and sometimes blues). This worked to varying success.

Klisters: well it's not klister time of year so I won't go there for now. Many people here are deathly afraid of klisters. After spending several years in New York and Minnesota I learned a lot about klisters and how to ski with icy conditions and I usually prefer klister conditions to hard wax.


Blogger Evan said...

I need to get into skiing. It would be a good cross trainer. Every winter I plan on buying some gear and every winter I am more and more broke. Next year for sure. =)

Stay warm up there. You guys are nuts to brave that kind of cold.

10:36 AM  
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