THREE STRATEGIES FOR MARATHON SKI RACING
Waxing for marathon racing forces a skier to make trade-offs between cost and performance. To simplify waxing for marathon racing I put together three strategies based on the wave you are starting in. These strategies are: Wave Five, Waves Three and Four and Elite, Waves One and Two. While I am specifically talking about glide wax strategies, these approaches can be applied to skate skis or the glide areas of classic skis.
A Wax Kit for Your Wave Click here
|Wax Kit for Wave 5|
I am suggesting practical and affordable ways for you Wave Five racers to get more speed out of your skis, and hopefully, more enjoyment out of your races.
The only real differences between Wave One and Wave Five waxing strategies are the number of skis you own and the cost of the wax. If you are a Wave Five skier you, likely, have just one pair of race skis - the rest, how you prep your skis and apply wax, is the same.
Start with a clean, porous base
If your ski bases have distorted or discolored areas the bases may be burned (burned bases look a bit like teflon). A hot iron, or an iron stopping too long in one place, can burn your ski bases. Burning seals the base material which makes it more difficult for wax to bond. Additionally, cold waxes can seal your race base. The hard plastic green glide wax you may be using repeatedly during cold weather will coat your ski base with plastic.
Stone grinding will remove the sealed areas and make them porous and receptive to waxes again. If you have one pair of race skis a good universal grind will give you flat skis and a structure that will serve you for most race conditions.
Note on Scraping and Brushing
Whether you are using high or low fluoro waxes be sure to scrape between each layer of wax with a sharp plastic scraper then brush thoroughly with a nylon brush (I use a nylon roto brush). After nylon brushing I do some hand bronze brush work (Swix T01580 Course Bronze Brush) to open the structure. Excessive metal brushing can remove too much wax from the base.
Hardening off the base
Before race waxes are applied you should iron on two layers of Blue (Swix CH6) or Green (Swix CH4). This will “harden off the base” and will allow your race wax to last much longer, run better and pick up less dirt.
Selecting wax according to snow type and weather forecast
When selecting a race wax you should take into account the abrasiveness of the snow along with temperature and humidity - if you are skiing on icy, abrasive or cold new snow, you should go with a colder harder wax. If are skiing on new mid-temp snow you can choose a wax closer to the temperature suggested on the wax package. We have often seen even elite-level racers choose waxes based on temperature alone and not consider snow type. This is a mistake that can slow you down considerably. For example, on a 28 degrees F day the manufacturer’s generic instructions will suggest LF7. However, the icy snow will cause drag because the hard snow crystals grab the soft wax and slow the skis. A harder wax such as LF6 will resist the abrasive snow and your skis will be faster.
Wax for the low temp of your race window.
If the forecast shows your start time at 10 degrees F and and your finish time at 30 degrees F, you should go with the Rex LFG Blue which has a range of 10-21 F. This is the right choice because the snow temperature rises much slower than the air. At the end of your race the air temperature may be 30 degrees F but the snow will still be much colder. Another important reason to wax for the low temp is colder waxes resist abrasions and last longer. As a rule of thumb, waxes work best at the top end of their temperature range.
Apply your race wax
A couple days before your race, using the wax selection hints above, apply three coats of your selected wax. Iron on, scrape with a plastic scraper, brush thoroughly with a nylon brush and, if you wish, one pass with a bronze brush.
Wave Five Wax Kit
For Wave Five skiers (and Waves 6, 7, 8) three good waxes for your wax box will be the Swix LF8, Rex LFG or RCF Blue, Start LF08. I selected these waxes because they cover nearly every temperature and a low-fluoro wax will nearly always outperform a non-fluoro wax.
|Wax Kit for Waves 3 + 4|
If you are a Wave Three or Four skier you are a good skier and take the sport seriously. I put together strategies and a wax kit with higher fluoro waxes designed to get a bit more speed out of your skis.
Get your skis ready
First, if you have 2-3 pair of race skis, know your skis and grinds and how they perform in specific conditions. You should have one pair that runs better in warm conditions and one for cold. For a big race like the Birkie there are a bunch of skiers breaking up the snow ahead of you and soft snow skis frequently work best for skiers who are not toward the very front of the pack. Be sure to “harden off” your skis with a couple layers hard wax like Swix CH4 before applying race wax.
Base Race Wax
Base LF/low fluoro wax helps bond high fluoro waxes with the ski base. Flouros will not bond with polyethylene (ski base material) and fluoro content should increase with each layer. I recommend Start BWLF because it has a high fluoro content and is hard enough to bond with the ski base.
Your last layer should be a high-fluoro wax. High-fluoro waxes make your skis fast. They repel moisture, reduce friction and do not pick up as much dirt as low-fluoro waxes. I suggest Swix HF 6 + HF 8 because they have a high fluoro content for the price and these two will cover most conditions.
Wave Three - Four Wax Kit
A wax kit for Wave Three - Four skiers should contain Swix HF 6 and HF 8 along with Start BWLF; waxes which cover the vast majority of conditions and get a racer the most fluoros and speed for the money.
|Wax Kit for Elite and Waves 1 + 2|
Get your skis ready
Just as I tell Wave Three racers, know your skis and grinds and select two pair of skis to prep for the race. Harden off your skis with two coats of hard wax like Swix CH6 or Swix CH4
Base Race Wax
Apply one or two layers of a low fluoro base wax like Start BWFL will help high fluoro layers bond with the polyethylene ski base.
Swix HF waxes are great picks - they have a high fluoro content for the money and have a great track record for delivering
Pure Fluoro Top Coat--powder
To make your skis repel water even more and go even faster, use a pure fluoro top coat. Swix FC100 Is one the best all around pure fluoros. It has been around for years and is still used by World Cup racers. Powder flouros like FC100 lasts a long time and work at the top performance for over 50 km. If you use flouros from a block you will notice diminished performance around 25km.
May not always need Pure Fluoros
With the right HF wax and If snow is clean and humidity low a Wave One or Wave Two Skiers can have very fast skis without a pure fluoro top-coat. Within the HF Temp ranges I have had some great races with straight HF Waxes.
Wave One/Elite Wax Kit
A marathon kit for a racer looking for top-flight performance should contain Start BWLF, Swix HF6 and HF8, and Swix HF100 fluoro powder. This will ensure the fastest skis possible and covers nearly all conditions.
2. Bronze brush
3. Wax iron Swix t73
5. Scraper sharpener.
6. Cera F cork