Thursday, December 04, 2008

Annual Reminder

That "free hot wax" on a brand new ski is like giving a single sip of water to someone crawling across the desert.

That quick hot wax for $5 or $10 at Happy Valley Family Ski Resort is like a quick squirt of Bactine on a third degree burn.

In a few strides you'll be dragging that raw surface across the unkind field of ice crystals as if you'd never wasted your money on the token efforts of the Helpful Wax Grunt.

Helpful Wax Grunts pride themselves on how quickly they can get wax onto, and off of, your skis. Their whole economy is based on quick turns. They thrive on YOUR helplessness and waxing phobia.

"Wax my skis once and I glide well for (less than) a day. Teach me to wax and I glide well for a lifetime."

Be a partner with your skis, or at least a good master to them. Feed and water them regularly.

Extruded touring bases with waxless grip patterns often don't benefit a great deal from hot waxing anyway. High density sintered bases used on touring skis don't absorb a lot of wax. Extruded bases with molded grip patterns don't absorb any. If you have something like a Fischer Superlight you might hot wax the glide zones, but all no-wax skis need a smear-on anti-icing compound in the grip zone. High-density and extruded bases can use it on the whole base.

Lower density sintered bases, which you get as you move up in quality on performance skis for skate or classic technique, absorb wax and need it for their health. A token shot once or twice a year won't do it. If you ski a lot, count on freshening up the glide once a week or more.

If you ski hard but have to take days or weeks off, store your skis with wax on them. Iron on a layer of something in the medium temperature range and don't scrape it off. When you get to ski, you can scrape the wax and brush it out. It may be right for the conditions. If not, do a coat of the right wax.

Glide waxing is simple. The process takes a few minutes, but you don't have to tear your hair and twist your brain about it the way you sometimes do with grip wax for classical. Relax and enjoy it. Your skis will thank you and you'll have more fun using them.

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