SKATE SKI WAXING

         
 

 

  Applying Skate Ski Waxes:

Only glide waxes are used on skate skis.

Glide waxes are applied as follows:

  • Clean the base
  • Drip the wax on using an iron
  • Iron the wax in
  • Scrape the wax off
  • Brush

Prior to applying the glide wax the ski base should be cleaned.  All dirt, hair and other debris should be removed.  Also, brush the ski to remove the old wax--especially if you are going from a warm wax to a cold weather wax.

 

   

First drip the wax onto the ski using an iron.

Remove the wax from the center groove in the ski.
Once the wax is scraped off the ski, brush the ski.

 

 

  Use an iron to drip the wax onto the ski.  The iron should initially be set at a medium setting.  If the wax starts to smoke the iron is too hot--the setting should be lowered.  If you experience difficulty in melting the wax increase the heat.

After dripping the wax on the ski, the wax has to be melted into the pores of the ski.  This is accomplished by ironing the ski from tip to tail.  Always keep the iron moving to avoid overheating the ski.  The wax should never be smoking during this process.

Once the ski is waxed, allow the ski to cool for at least 30 minutes.  Then scrape the wax off using a scraper.  The scraper should be at about a 45o angle.  Apply the pressure needed to remove the wax.  Scrape in the direction of tip to tail--never across the ski.  Also, remove the wax from the groove in the center of the ski as well as from the side.

Next brush the wax.  Once the wax is scraped off the ski, wax remains in the valleys of the base structure.  This wax is removed by brushing.  Failure to remove this wax will result in a slower glide.

When brushing start with either a stiff nylon brush or a very soft copper brush.  Bronze and brass brushes are too stiff and may damage the base. 

Once the coarse brushing is completed, brush the skis with a soft brush such as a nylon polishing brush or a horsehair brush.  You will notice that the wax particles being removed with softer brushers are smaller.  This is analogous to using coarse and then fine sand paper on wood.

Take care not to brush all of the wax off.  If a ski is brushed excessively the ski base becomes dull.  When this occurs the glide is comprised. 

When the ski is properly brushed, the base structure (the fine lines in the base) will be readily visible while the ski base will have a glossy appearance. 

 

   
         
 

 

  Ironing Tips:

Toko did a study to determine what is the optimum method of ironing skis:

  • Slowly moving an iron at a low temperature setting across the ski.
  • Quickly moving an iron at a high temperature setting across the ski.

As the goal of waxing is to penetrate the base as far as is possible, Toko analyzed the extent of base penetration using the above ironing method.  They found that the best penetration occurred when the iron was slowly moved across the base with a low iron temperature.

Another important tip is to allow the skis time to cool.  At least 30 minutes--and ideally an hour should be allowed for the wax to cool.  This is the time required for wax to cool and be absorbed into the base.

Iron at room temperature.

When ironing it should take about 7 to 9 seconds to travel from the tip to the tail.  This is the optimum ironing speed and will help you avoid overheating the base.

Although expensive, try to use an iron designed for waxing for three reasons. 

  • This type of iron has an uniform temperature across the base.
  • The temperature is adjustable
  • It may save a relationship or a marriage (don't use your spouse's clothes iron!)
   
         
    Types of Glide Waxes:

Hydrocarbon or paraffin glide waxes are have the lowest cost and performance.  They are good for everyday skiing and training.  Typically, they are not, however used in racing.  Unless you have won the lottery, these are the type of waxes you will use most of the time.

Low fluorocarbon waxes are used as a base for the high fluorocarbon waxes or can be used alone especially at lower temperatures.  They are used a training wax or can be used as a racing wax at lower temperatures.  This group of waxes has a higher performance than the hydrocarbon waxes and more wear resistance.  (Note snow is abrasive and will wear wax off a ski).

High fluorocarbon waxes are a higher performance group of waxes.  These waxes provide fast acceleration, are wide ranged in temperature, durable, and dirt resistant.  They are ideal race waxes or can be used as base for even higher performance, specialized waxes.

Wax Selection:

Outside of racing or very high performance situation (such as being chased by a mountain lion), using a wax colder than the ideal is not a serious mistake.  However, using a warmer wax than the conditions require will seriously impede your ski performance.  Therefore error on the side of being colder than desired.

This page is under development with a lot more text, waxing charts, and actual photos to add.  However, since the season is underway and the skate skiing section of this website is receiving a lot of hits, I thought I would publish this draft before completion. 

For now use the Swix Wax Wizard (click here),  Toko's page (click here), or Solda's page (click here) in order to select what wax to use.  Also, Swix and Toko are the most popular waxes used.  However, there are other waxes available including Solda, Rode, Star, and Fast Wax

To visit the rest of this website which contains over 200 links to cross country ski sites, and information on where to go skiing, ski conditions, ski racing etc click here.

Base Structure:

Recent studies have shown that the structure of the ski base has a pronounced effect on ski performance.   Structure is added by stone grinding or rilling--with stone grinding considered the preferred method.  Structure appears as a series of lines or ridges followed by valleys or depressions in the skis.  The height of the "ridge" as compared to the valley is varied depending on the type of snow expected.

Once cut into the ski the structure is essentially permanent--especially if stone grinding is used to cut the structure into the base.  Rilling produces a less permanent structure.

The type of structure to use depends on the temperature, age, and humidity of the snow.  Current recommended structures are as follows:

  • For powder below 9 F very little structure is needed.  Under these conditions an excessive amount of structure will result in slow skis. 
  • As a cold powder snow 9 and 19 F is very dry, a fine linear structure (0.5 to 0.75 millimeters) is recommended.
  • A fine broken structure is desirable for powder snow in the 20's.  Powder snow at these temperatures can contain a significant amount of moisture.
  • Wet new snow requires a very coarse structure (2 to 3 millimeters). 
  • Transformed cold snow requires a medium structure (0.75 to 1 millimeter).  The linear structure seems to match-up well with the round crystals creating a 'bearing on rails' type effect where the skis handle better and also glide faster.
  • For wet transformed snow at temperatures above freezing that is not breaking use a linear structure with a broken structure over it.
  • When transformed wet snow is breaking down an aggressive 2 to 3 millimeter linear pattern is required.  This type of snow occurs during warm rains.

Although stone grinding is considered to be the gold standard for adding structure to a ski base, both Swix and Toko sell hand structure tools.  Swix's Riller is reported to be able to add a deeper, longer lasting structure than Toko's Structerite.  Apparently, the structure resulting form the Structerite lasts only for a few weeks.  However, in some circumstances this may be a distinct advantage.

As skill and a considerable amount of skiing experience is required for stone grinding, ask the elite or master skiers for their recommendations.  Do not trust your skis to just the anyone for stone grinding.

If you are truly rabid and have unlimited funds, you should considered several pairs of skis with each pair being stone ground for different weather conditions.  The rabidskier has two pairs of skate skis--one for powder and one for warmer conditions.  There is a noticeable difference in the performance of these skis. 

Although the proper structure will improve your performance this will not allow an average skier to become an elite skier.  Good physical conditioning, training, and technique are far more important.

In order to be timely, this page is being added to the site as it is being developed.  As a result, I do not have the exact articles I gleaned the above information from in front of me.  However, the information on brushing and base structure is a summary of an article that appeared in the last edition of Master Skier.  Information on waxing is from TOKO and Swix.  Toko has several papers that really dig into the science of waxing.  If I can find these articles on the web I will provide links to them.