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Terms, Selection and Use Term definitions are oriented toward novice and beginner skiers. The questions in the Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) sections start with Beginner topics and move toward more advanced topics. Each question is labeled with a B (beginner), I (Intermediate), or an A (advanced) only to help orient readers to what might be of most interest to them. Beginners should start by reading through the "Getting Started" section, as it will answer many of your questions.

Click on one of the following topics to go to any of the sections, or just scroll down the page.

Skis Terms and info for beginners (B) through advanced skiers (A)
Skis FAQ's
Boots
Info on boot selection and use for beginner (B) and intermediate (I) skiers.
Poles Info on selection and use for beginner skiers.
Waxing Info for beginners through intermediate skiers.
Waxing FAQ's
Clothing: Info for beginner through advanced skiers.
Energy and Hydration Info for performance, health, and weight management, please see the chart, "How does cross-country skiing compare as a calorie burner?" below.
Health and Weight Management
Performance

Skis
Terms

Ski Tip: Either the very forward up-lifted section of the ski, or the entire forward section of the ski, from the binding to the very tip.

Ski Tail: Either the very tail of the ski, or the entire back section of the ski from the back-end of the binding to the very tail of the ski.

Top Sheet: The whole top layer of ski.

Ski Base: The base of the ski is it's running surface. Ski bases are generally made of a polyethylene. Black based skis generally have carbon or graphite mixed into the polyethylene.

Kick Zone: The central portion of a classical ski's base - where one applies kick wax or where the "Contagrip" base is. See "Getting Started," "How do the skis work?"

Glide Zone: One a classical ski this is the tip and tail portion of the ski. On a skate ski it is the whole base section. See "Getting Started," "How do the skis work?"

Contagrip Base / Fish Scales / Waxless ski: A base for classical skiing that does not require kick wax. The Contagrip pattern is milled or pressed into the ski forming a pattern, which is rough in one direction and smooth in the other allowing the ski to slide forward on the snow but not slide back.

Ski Flex / Camber / Weight: The flex or camber of a ski is how much weight it takes to flatten the ski against the snow. A stiff flex requires more weight, a soft flex requires less. The flex of a ski is its most important attribute. A ski should be flexed to the skiers weight for it to work well.

Side Cut: Some skis have a side cut. Side cut refers to the shape of the ski's edge. A straight cut ski has no side cut; it is straight all along both edges. A ski with side cut may have a slight or even extreme hourglass or even double hourglass shape. Side cut grants many advantages including stability, ease of turning, more consistent ski flex and weight distribution over the whole ski base. Its disadvantage may be in its straight run-out speed - but this disadvantage is slight if it exists at all and is certainly out-weighted by the advantages.

FAQ's about Skis

B What Ski fit, ski model, etc do I need?
B Where is the best place to buy skis?
B Should I rent?
B-I Why are my skis slow?
B-I What is the difference between Skating and Classic skis?
Can I skate on my classic skis? / Should I get Combi skis?

B-A How do I prep new skis? (see waxing)
B-A How do I store skis over the summer? (see waxing)
I-A What makes a fast ski?
I-A How do I find a fast ski for the consumer?
Explanation of Ski Fit

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B What Ski fit, ski model, etc do I need?

Please see the info under "Getting Started", "What kind of skier am I?" "How do I find the right equipment?", and "How do I find a pair of skis that fit me?"

It is advisable that you visit your local cross-country ski retail shop to get the absolute best ski advice available.


Where is the best place to buy skis?
A cross-country ski specific shop is absolutely best. Since ski model, size and flex are so important it is best to visit a shop that knows what they are doing. Please don't buy a pair of skis just because they are a good deal - make sure they fit you and suit your needs.

Should I rent?
It may be wise to rent skis before you buy. That way you get a feel for what kind of skiing you'd like to do and what kind of skis you'd like to use. Some places will give you your rental money back if you buy skis from them, but ask first if that's the case.

Why are my skis slow? (see also, "what makes a fast ski?") Skis perform well because they're the right size and flex for you, the bases are in good shape and have been at least adequately taken care of, are properly waxed, and lastly they are quality skis.

For ski size / flex info please see, "Getting started," "How do I find a pair of skis that fit me," or take them to your local cross-country retail shop. For taking care of your skis base and waxing info please see waxing below. All major ski brands produce quality skis, but we recommend Salomon skis for the quality of their skis from their top-of-the-line racing to their beginner sport models.


What is the difference between Skating and Classic skis? Can I skate on my classic skis? / Should I get Combi skis? Combi skis are made for both skating and classical. They generally work OK, but are not very good for either. The main cosmetic difference between skate and classic skis is size. Skate skis are shorter and have a snubbed tip while classic skis are longer with a longer, full tip. The main real difference between the two is their flex. Classical skis have a much softer flex that allows the skier to press the middle section (kick zone) of the ski to the snow with relative ease. A skate ski is quite stiff and more ridged torsionally so that it can be used more like an ice skate than a running shoe. The middle portion isn't meant to be set flush with the snow like a classical ski. Skating on classical skis tends to be unstable and mushy feeling, while classical skiing on skate skis tends to be extremely difficult because of the stiffness of the skate ski. To accommodate this problem a combi ski is sort of like a soft skate ski. It is better to have two pair of skis if you will be doing both.

What makes a fast ski?
In order of importance: 1) Flex 2) Base structure

Base structure is the small pattern cut into the base material of a ski. The bigger the structure pattern the better it will be in warm conditions because larger structure combats the water suction found in warm conditions. Smaller structure is better in cold/dry conditions because this combats the friction found in such conditions.

When it comes to speed the most important quality a ski can have is proper flex. A Fast classical ski will continually balance a classical skier's need for glide and kick. During the glide phase, both the skis' tips and tails (the glide zones) will transfer the skier's weight to the snow, providing optimum glide. During the kick phase, the middle 1/3 of the kicking ski (the kick zone) will come into contact with the snow as the skier shifts their weight to just one ski, providing optimum kick.

A Fast Classical Ski will provide the skier with a smooth, predictable and consistent transition between the kick and glide phases in all snow conditions.

A Fast Skating Ski will transfer a skier's skating forces evenly through the ski to the snow while allowing the ski and skier to ride over the course. A Fast ski's most important characteristic will be a soft tip and tail that floats over (rather than plow through) soft snow and variations in terrain. The remainder of the ski will allow for a gradual and uniform transfer of the skiers weight to the snow.

Side cut grants many advantages including stability, ease of turning, more consistent ski flex and weight distribution over the whole ski base. Its disadvantage may be in its straight run-out speed - but this disadvantage is slight if it exists at all and is certainly out-weighted by the advantages. For a ski to be fast it must be the proper flex for the person who will use it.
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How do I find a fast ski for the consumer? Most Retail shops have more advanced and specific means to find the proper ski for the consumer. Otherwise, for a ski, be it skate or classic, to be fast it must be the proper flex for the person who will use it.

A simple, yet sound way to determine if a ski has the proper flex is to have the consumer give the ski a squeeze test. They should hold the pair of skis, base to base, with both hands at the binding, or high point, of the ski. The consumer should then squeeze the skis together.

Explanation of Ski Fit

Ski Fit
Any ski, skate or classic, must be properly sized based on your weight and a few other factors. Are you more or less fit than you were when your present skis were new? Do you ski more or less than when you purchased your skis? Has your technique improved or declined. Do you ski more aggressively now than in the past or now do you just go out and cruise? If any of this has changed you may need new skis to match the new you.

When I was racing fulltime I would enjoy and benefit from a much stiffer ski (both classic and skate then I do now). Now I ski a classical ski that closes at only 52% of my body weight. With these skis all I have to do is slightly shift my weight and I get tremendous kick with no compromise in glide. On my skating skis I would have raced at 125% of my body weight because I had a much more energetic weight transfer than I do now. I now ski at 110% of my body weight. I transfer the same weight but I do it more gradually now and wish to just cruise through the trails. So my present skis need to be softer to match the softer and gentler me. If your present skis fit you then you need to determine if the new ski technology and fresh ski bases will make skiing more enjoyable for you.


Are my classical and touring skis the correct stiffness for me?
If your classical skis are too stiff for your weight and technique, you will not be able to engage the bridge (kick wax or waxless Contagrip pattern) onto the snow during the push-off phase, and you will constantly slip due to lack of kick. If your skis are too soft for your weight, the kick wax will continually be dragging on the snow, and your gliding will be greatly impaired. If your skis are flexed correctly you will find that you will glide easily downhill and carry your momentum on the flats but with your slightest weight shift onto your kicking ski the bridge will close. This will allow your kick wax to bind with the snow crystals and your kick to propel you forward. If you struggle getting kick or glide, your skis do not fit you. Most people have classical skis that are too stiff for them which makes going uphill very difficult and classical skiing very frustrating.

Testing the fit of new or old classical skis

If you wish to conduct a rudimentary test of your classical skis place your skis together, base-to-base. Hold the skis on the binding plate. With one hand, squeeze the bases together as hard as you can. If you can force the bridge (kick zone) of the bases to touch with only one hand, your skis are most likely too soft. If the Kick zone remains apart with one hand then the skis are likely not to soft. Now try squeezing the skis together with two hands. If you squeeze the skis together as hard as you can with two hands and you cannot close the kick zone between your hands then your skis are likely too stiff. This is a simple test that will only work to expose skis that are way too stiff or way too soft. If your skis pass this test then they should be tested at a ski retailer with a perfectly flat testing board. Most retailers have testboards and knowledgeable staff that will help you test your old or new skis.

How to make sure your classical skis are not too soft or too stiff, with a testboard.
1. Place the skis on the testboard.
2. Stand evenly with a flat foot on each ski with the front of your toes at the skis balance point or your ski boots in their bindings.
3. Place the testboard slider under the ball of your feet. Test to make sure the slider can move back and forth under your feet. If it cannot move the slider then the skis are to soft for you and you need stiffer skis and this test is over.
4. If the slider does move freely your skis are not too soft and you need to make sure they not too stiff. Put all your weight on one foot and pretend to kick. For an elite racer this will mean rising to the ball of one foot. For a beginner this will mean a slight weight shift to the front of one foot.
5. Try to pull the slider out from underneath the ski, if you can, the pair of skis is too stiff and you need softer skis. If you can't move the slider than the skis are soft enough to get kick on.

Determining your wax pocket.
1. Place the testboard slider under the ball of your feet.
2. Stand evenly with a flat foot on the skis with the front of your toe at the skis balance point or in its binding.
3. Move the slider forward until it stops; mark this point on the skis sidewall. Repeat this procedure moving from the balance point rearward. Between these two points is your wax pocket for hardwax (thin cold kickwax layers) conditions.
4. Stand on one foot with pressure on one heel, repeat step 3. This determines your warm wax pocket for thicker sticky (klister and soft hardwax) wax conditions.

Are my skating skis the correct stiffness for me?
Proper ski flex will greatly enhance your enjoyment of skate skiing by providing tremendous glide and stability in all snow conditions. If your skis are too stiff you will find yourself wobbling from edge to edge because your skis can only distribute your weight to a few inches of surface area at the extreme tips and tails of the ski. These stiff skis will be extremely unstable (and therefore slow) in hard snow conditions and very slow in soft snow conditions as they force their way through, rather than over, the soft snow. If your skate skis are too soft, you will flatten the bridge (or camber) of your ski. This will result in an unstable ski that rotates like a clock hand from under the ball of your foot. Without any residual camber (suspension) it is also a very slow ski that robs your energy as it is forced to bend over variations in terrain. A properly flexed ski floats over ski trail variations as it suspends the skier and absorbs the variations with its camber.

Testing the fit of new or old skating skis.
If you wish to test the flex of your skate skis, place your skis together, base to base. Hold the skis on the binding plate. With two hands, squeeze the bases together as hard as you can. If you can force the mid-section of the bases between your hands to touch, your skis are most likely too soft. It is very difficult to test if skate skis are to stiff because you need your skate skis to be stiffer than your body weight. But if with two hands compressing your skis the skis do not close anywhere near the back of your binding plate the skis are likely too stiff. Most retailers have testboards and the knowledgeable staff that will help you test your old or new skis.

How to make sure your present skating skis fit with a testboard.
1. Place the skis on the testboard with the front of your toe at the skis balance point or in its binding.
2. Put all your weight on the heel of one foot. Move the slider underneath your foot. If you can not move rearward to near your heal the pair of skis is too soft and you need stiffer skis.
3. If you can move the plate freely from the near your heel to a minimum of 25cm in front of the binding the skis are within range of fit.
4. If the skis do not close anywhere near your heel then the skis are likely too stiff.

Classical
The skis are too stiff: the consumer cannot get the bases to touch in the middle.
The skis are too soft: using only one hand the consumer can press the bases together.
The skis are just right: the consumer can get the bases to touch in the middle by squeezing with two hands but not with one hand.

Skate
The skis are too stiff: the consumer cannot get 2/3 of the base to touch when squeezing with both hands.
The skis are too soft: the consumer can squeeze the bases flat with both hands.
The skis are just right: the consumer can get about 2/3+ to -3/4 of the base to touch when squeezing with both hands, but not more.

Boots and Bindings
Terms (use and selection): Please see "how do I find the right equipment?" from the "Getting Started" section as that will help answer your basic questions.

Ski Boot:
A cross-country ski boot ranges from something like a running shoe to a speed skating boot to mountaineering hiking boot and everything in between. The kind of ski boot you get will depend on what kind of skiing you will be doing. Choosing a boot is similiar to choosing any piece of footwear. If the kind of skiing you will be doing approximates running (classical skiing on groomed trails) then you will choose a ski boot to match - a classical ski boot for groomed skiing, such as a racing or sport touring boot. If you will be skating on groomed trails you'll need a skating boot, such as a racing or sport skating boot. If you will be venturing high into the mountains beyond the groomed trails, you will need something more in line with a sturdy hiking boot - a back country or even a tele ski boot.

We believe in the Salomon line of boots as they make quality boots from top of the line racing to introductory sport boots. Ski boots have a special sole that hooks into a specific binding system. The important thing is to buy matching boot and bindings.

A cross-country ski specific shop should be able to help you find the right model and size boot, and also the right boot to fit the bindings system you already have, or will soon buy. Ask your sport retailer before you buy and make sure you understand how the binding mechanism works before you head out on the trails.

Boots should be snug and supportive, but allow for good circulation so your feet stay warm.


Binding:
A ski binding is attached to the ski. Your ski boot clips into the binding thus holding the skis to your feet. Cross-country bindings allow the heel to raise and lower - it is free heel skiing. There are many binding systems available. Salomon is our recommendation for racing, sport, adventure and backcountry skiing.

How to mount racing bindings:
Neutral ski balance using the Salomon Profil binding is achieved with binding mounted at the balance point. Neutral ski balance using the Pilot binding is achieved with binding mounted 1cm behind the balance point.

If you mount the skis behind the neutral point the ski's tip will stay closer to the snow. If you mount the skis in front of the neutral point the ski's tip will rise quicker. Many racers like the Classic tip to stay low and mount the binding up to 1cm behind the skis balance point. On skis that feel soft, but on which you cannot get any kick you should try to move the binding forward 1cm.

Many racers prefer the Skate tip to remain neutral so they mount the binding at 1cm behind the skis balance point.

As a general rule we recommend mounting all bindings 1cm behind the skis balance point. The choice is yours and will only affect the ski during the return (un-weighted) phase. The glide performance will remain unchanged.

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Poles
Terms (selection and use): Please see "How do I find the right equipment?" from the "Getting Started section as it will answer most of your basic questions.

Ski Poles: Ski poles are used to help propel you forward (not just hold you up-right). Using ski poles engages the entire upper body thereby giving cross-country skiers the best workout in the world as all major muscle groups are put to use. There are a wide variety of ski poles to match the type of skiing one will be doing - racing, sport, adventure, backcountry, and like skis, the pole should fit the individual.


Basket: The basket is the cup with the sharp tip at the bottom of the ski pole. The width of the basket determines the type of skiing the pole is meant for. A very narrow basket is for well-groomed conditions, a medium-wide basket is for groomed or skied-in conditions and a wide basket is for un-groomed skiing. The basket's purpose is to hold the skiers weight above the snow - giving the skier maximum reward for their polling effort. The looser, softer the snow the bigger basket one needs. The sharp tip serves to bite into the snow so the basket doesn't simply slip or slough backward when pushed upon.

Handle:
A cross-country ski handle is the part at the top of the pole. Unlike an alpine ski pole handle, you don't have to actively hold onto your cross-country pole handle because of the way your hand is held by the pole strap.

Strap: A cross-country pole strap is entered from below. Simply hold the strap out with one hand and enter the loop from below with the other hand (the rabbit comes up out of the hole), next, allow you hand (the rabbit) to relax over the loop where both ends enter the handle so that the two parts of the loop fall between your thumb and fore-finger and your hand is resting on the loop. Now you don't actually have to hold the pole much at all as your hand is cradled over the strap. If you have any questions simply ask someone where you are skiing or at a ski shop for help.

Pole Sizing:
Classic poles - should fit under your arm or if you put your pole on the ground in front of you it should reach to the middle of your shoulder.

Skating - 10cm longer than classic - roughly in the chin/mouth area.

Roller Skiing Poles - use the same poles as snow skiing

Hill Bounding/Ski Walking- 5-7.5 cm shorter than skiing poles

All measurements with boots on, standing on the floor.
Pretty general rules, but make sure the poles are not too long.

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Waxing
Terms: Please see "What's up with Waxing," and "Guide to kick waxing," from the "Getting Started" section as it will help answer your basic questions. Also please visit www.swixsport.com for in depth waxing information. Don't overlook their "wax wizard" which tells you exactly which wax to use for specific conditions. It's really neat and it works well.

Ski Wax: Ski wax can be broken into two categories, kick wax and glide wax. Wax is used on the base of a ski to give you either glide or kick.

Glide: Glide is the ability of the ski to move over the snow as free as possible of friction and/or suction. Even for those who are not concerned with going fast, having good glide makes skiing easier and more enjoyable. Glide is supplied by glide wax and ski structure.

Kick / Grip: Kick or Grip is the ability of kick wax or the classical ski's waxless pattern to stick to the snow. To have kick is a good thing. It means you can push down and back on your ski, thusly moving yourself forward, without having your ski slip backward, which would keep you from moving forward. Kick is supplied by kick wax, klister.

Kick / Grip Wax: Kick wax is a sticky wax that one applies to the kick zone of a waxable classical ski. When a skier applies their weight to the ski, the kick zone comes in contact with the snow, the kick wax sticks to the snow and the skier is able to move forward. Different kick waxes are used for different conditions and there are a wide variety of kick waxes to match the variations in snow type.

Klister: Klister is an extremely sticky form of kick wax. It is in fact a very sticky liquid/gel that one applies to the kick zone like one does with kick wax. Klister is for very warm, slushy or icy snow. Skiing in klister conditions is very fun. Cork: A cork is a synthetic or real cork block used to smooth kick wax over the ski's kick zone.

Wax Remover: Wax remover is a liquid used to strip kick wax and klister from the ski. One uses a plastic scraper and fiberlene to help in this process.

Glide Wax:
Glide wax is used to give the ski better glide. Glide wax helps the ski combat the friction and/or suction of the snow. There are a wide variety of glide waxes to match different snow conditions. Glide wax also serves to protect your base and lengthen its lifespan. The more you glide wax your skis the better they will work and the longer they will last. Waxing Iron: Glide wax is applied with a waxing iron. One uses the iron to melt the wax onto the ski, and then to gently warm the ski base and spread the wax over the base. The warm ski base absorbs the wax.

Easy Glide Waxes: There are no-iron glide waxes that can simply be rubbed on. Swix makes a great line of these waxes called the F4 Easy Glide line.

Scraper: There are two basic types of scrapers, metal and plastic. A metal scraper is used to peel thin layers of the actual ski base from the ski - a job for advanced ski waxers only. A plastic scraper is used to scrape glide wax from the base. One does not actually ski on glide wax, rather one skis on the ski base, which is impregnated with glide wax. Scrapers are used to scrape the base completely clear of glide wax.

Brush: A brush helps remove the glide wax from the top of the ski base. Ski bases are not completely flat, but have a fine structure where wax can hide. The Brush cleans out the ski base's structure. The most common brushes are brass and nylon brushes. Stiff bristled brass brushes are for actually structuring the ski. Soft bristled brass brushes are for removing wax as are stiff and soft nylon brushes. Horse hair brushes are for brushing fluoro waxes such as Cera F.

High Fluoro / Fluorocarbon: Fluorocarbon waxes are used by racers to combat the suction of wet snow. Waxes high in fluorocarbons are called high fluor waxes. Fiberlene: Fiberlene aids in the removal of dirt, glide and kick wax from the ski base. It is a tough paper towel material that doesn't rip when used to clean skis.

Fibertex:
Fibertex is a tough and rough material, which serves many purposes. The foremost purpose is smoothing the ski base. When rubbed vigorously against the base fibertex actually pulls small hairs from the base making it smoother and faster.

Grind / Structure: A ski base is structured to combat the friction and/or suction of the snow. This structure is achieved by grinding the ski with a ski grinder. The structure is therefore called a grind. There are specific grinds for specific snow types - but that is quite advanced.

Riller: A riller is a tool used to give structure to a ski.

The essentials for getting started (Beginner info): There are many, many tools and tricks listed above and many not even listed here, but to get started skiing there are only a few things you need. Someone who skis only periodically doesn't need to glide wax their skis as often as someone who skis every week, but the more you can glide wax your skis the better they will work. For most, having a shop or a friend periodically glide wax your skis is a fine option and so you don't need to invest in a lot of equipment you will seldom use.

There are inexpensive, wipe-on Easy Glide waxes that come highly recommended for those who do not ski often or don't want to mess with waxing. Swix's F4 Easy Glide line of waxes is very convenient, easy to use and inexpensive. They are available at most ski areas and ski shops and come with simple instructions.

For those using waxless classical skis, using an Easy Glide wax over the whole ski will help improve glide drastically, and since you don't need kick wax that is all you need to get started. For those with waxable skis, glide wax should only be applied to the glide zones of the ski. F4 Easy Glide waxes are a good choice if you ski only periodically. Since you are using kick wax, you will need a cork, a plastic scraper and several waxes. Please see our "Getting Started" section, the "Please make it as easy as possible" question in the "Wax FAQ " section and www.swixsport.com or your local cross-country ski shop for more info.


Wax FAQ
B Please make it as easy as possible.
B If I just put the glide wax on, why do I scrape it off?
B-I My kick wax is too slippery.
B-I My kick wax is too sticky.
B-I Waxing Waxless skis?
B-I How do I care for my skis?
I-A When do I use Flouro's?
A What's the difference between all the Cera F products?

When do I use Graphite?
Do I need a rotobrush?
A Why do you layer glide waxes?
I-A Why do you layer kick waxes?
B-I I get Klister all over everything.
B-I How do I clean my glide zones?
I-A How do I prep new skis?
B-A How should I store my skis for the summer?

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Please make it as easy as possible. The easiest way to go skiing is with waxless (Contagrip) skis. You don't need any wax at all. Waxable skis do work better however and waxing doesn't have to be difficult at all. Most wax companies print the temperature range for the wax right on the wax tin or box itself. Swix offers the easiest (and best) line of waxes. They have a race line, which is great for advanced racers, and a very good and very inexpensive line of waxes for novice or sport skiers.

Kick wax is applied to the kick zone (under the whole foot and forward 10 to 20 inches) of your ski base.

In the novice line of wax there are a wide variety of waxes from Polar to special green to green to extra green on up to extra red. I recommend getting only a few waxes that will work very well in almost all conditions and a cork to smooth the wax out.

Minimum Recommended waxes. These are versatile and very good waxes: Swix Extra Blue
Swix Purple
Swix Red

Extra's

You can fill in the gaps with any of the waxes that fit between the one's recommended, but here are a few more good ones.
Swix Green (for real cold weather)
Swix Special Purple
Swix Special Red
Swix Universal Klister

Once you match the correct wax to the temperature, proper application is the trick. Simply rub a thin layer of wax over your whole kick zone and smooth it out with your cork. Put on several layers. If the wax slips, then apply it further forward, or put on more layers. If it still slips then put on a warmer wax. Remember the temperature the wax works best in is printed on the wax. Generally you can use the wax in colder conditions but not in warmer conditions.

Glide wax is applied to the glide zones (tips and tales) of your ski base or the whole skate ski base. It is ironed on with a waxing iron, cooled and then scrapped off. It is for keeping your ski base in good condition and running smooth and fast. Like kick wax, glide wax is marked with the correct temperature range. Again go with Swix. Swix CH 10, (maybe CH 8) and CH 6 should cover you in most conditions. If you don't want to glide wax your skis, it may be worth paying a store to do it every so often. Your skis will last longer and run better for it.

Most ski shops should be able to help you with waxing advice and many ski areas can also give you advice for the day you are going out skiing.


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If I put glide wax on, why do I scrape it off? The ski base absorbs the glide wax. You do not ski on the wax itself, but on the base which is impregnated with the wax. You must scrape ALL the glide wax off with a plastic scraper before you ski - don't worry, it's in the base.

My kick wax is too slippery.
Every kick wax comes labeled with the temperature it works best in. To be safe you can error on the "warmer" side, in other words if it is 20 degrees, use a wax made for skiing in 30 degree weather. Another solution is to apply more of the proper wax. You can wax more of the ski (wax forward of where you have been waxing within the ski's kick zone), or apply more layers of wax. It is best to apply many thin layers of wax, corking each one smooth. For more advanced skiers: On skis that feel soft, but on which you cannot get any kick you should try moving the binding forward 1cm. (Also, see "Getting Started," "How do I find a pair of skis that fit me?")

My kick wax is too sticky.
Use your plastic scraper to remove the old kick wax (that you used last week or even yesterday) before you apply new wax. Wax remover and fiberlene can also be used to do a thorough cleaning job. Follow the labels on the wax itself so that you are not using a wax that is too sticky for the conditions. Apply less wax and make sure you smooth it out well with your cork. (Also, see "Getting Started," "How do I find a pair of skis that fit me?")

Waxing Waxless skis? The kind of waxing that waxless skis require is glide waxing. The term waxless refers to the pattern (Contagrip) on the center portion of the base. The "Contagrip" pattern takes the place of kick wax - hence waxless skis. Glide waxing can be as complex or simple as you want to make it. Ski racers glide wax their skis every time they use them and use the "wax of the day", while recreational skiers don't need to wax their skis nearly as often and can use a simple rub-on wax.

Some glide wax can be ironed on using a waxing iron while others are simply rubbed on. Rub on waxes are simple and perfect for most recreational skiers. The Swix F-4 Easy Glide line of waxes is great and should be available at most ski shops and even ski areas - try the alpine ski section if it's not in the cross-country area. Regular glide waxes must be ironed on, then cooled, and then scraped completely off (as one does with alpine skis). This is the best way to go, as it performs better than the wipe on waxes, lasts longer, and helps prolong the life of the ski base better. Still it is better to use the F-4 Easy Glide than not to use a wax at all, and the F-4 wax is quick and simple so it is a very good choice.

While iron-on glide wax is applied only to the tip and tails of the ski, wipe on waxes can be applied to the whole ski. Simply rub the paste over the whole ski, including the "Cotagrip" pattern, but be careful not to fill-in the pattern with paste. Instructions will come with the wax.

Waxless skis are widely sold because it is the easiest way to get out and enjoy the sport. In keeping with that, they require a minimum of attention. Waxable skis often perform better, but require some knowledge of kick wax and a bit more attention. For most recreational skiers, waxless skis are a great way to go as they are clean and easy and perform very well for what the recreational skier is after.

How do I care for my skis? Skis can be cleaned with a wax remover. Simply rub the base with a rag or Swix fiberlene lightly soaked in Swix wax remover to remove dirt from the kick zone. Since the only wax used on waxless skis is glide wax you don't need to use wax remover to remove kick wax - which is the intended use of wax remover. Since an ironed on glide wax is scraped off prior to skiing it doesn't need to be removed with wax remover either. Wipe-on waxes are wiped smooth during application and generally wear off during the ski and shouldn't need removing, but dirt does (snow can be very dirty even if it looks clean, and dirt and grime slows your skis down a lot). One shouldn't use wax remover on the glide zone of a ski (often, if ever) as it will dry the ski base out making it prone to icing as well as drying the base out and making it slower. To clean the glide zone you can hot-wipe the base - scrape an ironed-on glide wax off while it is still molten on the ski (see "How do I clean the glide zones?"). This pulls the dirt off the ski. Also one can simply use a Swix ski brush to clean the base. Using a wipe-on or iron-on glide wax often will help keep the ski clean. (Rubbing on an iron-on wax doesn't work well).

When do I use Flouro's?
See the Cera descriptions below. Flouro's are for anytime there is much humidity in the snow. The more humid the higher flouro wax.

What's the difference between all the Cera F products? Cera 040 is for old, cold snow (less then 28 degrees). Cera 100 is for new, cold snow (less then 28 degrees). Cera 200 is for warm snow (over 28 degrees). This is the most often used type of Cera. Cera 080 is for very wet snow with extra water.

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When do I use Graphite? Graphite is for dirt and dry, cold snow. It isn't good when the snow is wet. It is used only as an under-layer to other waxes very seldom as the top layer of race wax (only if it were very, very dirty and then Swix Cera is best). A hard graphite for cold conditions can be good under a hard, cold wax such as CH 4. However, when it is cold we generally use LF 6 under CH or LF 4. A soft graphite for warm conditions isn't much good except as a base prep and as a training wax.

Do I need a rotobrush? The only reason to use a rotobrush is because it is quick; there is no other advantage. Use a very low RPM with the brass rotobrush, and be careful as it can be very aggressive. Some suggest that you should use fibertex afterward.


Why do you layer glide waxes? Glide waxes are layered for a number of reasons. First off it is important to apply at least a few and preferably many layers of warm glide wax into your ski before you ever use them. This will make them fast (makes skiing easier) and helps prolong their life. For the same reason, it is also advisable to keep a layer of glide wax on your skis when you are not using them. For racing, glide waxes are layered to attain the properties of a variety of waxes and because certain waxes adhere better to other waxes then they do to the base and so are layered on top of waxes that adhere well to the base. The conditions dictate how one will layer their waxes, but prior to every race top racers apply at least two or three layers of wax including the final race layer. More in depth info can be found at www.swixsport.com and through skipost.com weekly mailings - become a skipost member for free from this site.

Why do you layer kick waxes? Kick waxes are layered for a number of reasons. The first reason is that it simply takes more then one layer of wax to get good kick. Snow crystals must be able to penetrate into the wax well enough for your kick to hold and that takes several layers of wax. Rather then applying one thick layer it is better to apply many thin layers, smoothing each layer with a cork. This not only makes your skis glide better, but improves kick, combats icing and over-stickiness, and increases durability (thin layers rub off much less then one thick one). More advanced skiers layer harder and softer waxes to create the perfect wax for the conditions. This is especially true for new falling or fallen wet snow just below or above freezing. Even klister can be covered with kick waxes to help keep the klisters from icing in wet conditions. More in depth info can be found at www.swixsport.com and through the skipost.com weekly mailings - become a skipost member for free from this site.

I get Klister all over everything. Klister skiing is wonderful, but using klister requires care. Most people apply too much of the gooey stuff. They key is warming it for application, applying only as much as you need, cooling it before skiing on it, and removing it right after skiing with a klister paddle or spatula. You can use a heat gun or wax remover to help, but remove the bulk of it with the paddle before warming it up. Fiberlene soaked with wax remover is a great tool as it's tough and will not rip and tear.


How do I clean my glide zones? You clean the glide zone of a classical ski (tips and tails) the same way you clean the whole base of a skate ski. This is done using a soft wax such as Swix CH-10. With your iron at a low temperature (so as not to over-heat the base) drip a generous amount of CH-10 on the entire base. Next, slowly heat the wax and the base by walking the iron from tip to tail. A generous amount of wax is used as a protective layer so the base is not exposed to too much heat. Walk your iron in a slow continuous motion from tip to tail as many times as it takes (about 5 slow passes) until the whole base is covered in a molten, liquid layer of CH-10. This simple method allows for superior wax absorption, and the heat from the iron will open up the pores in the base allowing the dirt, grime and filth hidden therein to rise up into the molten wax. While the wax is still molten, take a sharp plastic scraper and scrape the liquid mess off your ski.

How do I prep new skis? Some skis require a little bit of work when they are purchased. How much work depends more on the ski's owner than the ski. A racer will work a lot on their ski while most people will just ski on them. It is nice to iron a few layers of a soft glide wax (Swix CH 10 is a great choice) into the base prior to skiing on them. You don't have to do this, but it will help the ski perform better. Keeping a layer of wax on the ski when you are not skiing on them is the best way to keep the base running smooth and fast, and it will help the ski live a long life. More work can be done to insure that your ski performs perfectly, but most recreational skiers need not worry about it.

There are a million tricks of the ski-prep trade. Our motto is simplicity. The object is to have a flat, hair-free base with structure as demanded by the conditions. For those who want to prep their skis, stone grinding is the most accepted way to do this. After a stone grind some work needs to be done. How much work depends on how good a job the stone grinder did. If the job is well done, simply use a soft fibertex (gray or white in color) with a sanding block to remove hairs brought up by the grinding. If the job is poorly done you have to start with rougher fibertex (green or gray in color) and work down to the softer stuff. On new skis that have a factory grind, try them out without investing any work at all - they may be great right away. Probably they will require a stone grind however.

If a stone grind is not in your budget some light work with the Swix T-89 razor can do wonders to "refresh" a ski's base. Use all cutting instruments with care and minimally. The T-89 is run lightly down the base (handle first - pulling the blade down the ski rather then pushing it down, which will dig it into the base.). A small amount of base should be peeled away. Using a brass brush can have a similar effect, after which you can use the medium textured fibertex (gray in color) and work toward the softer stuff (white). The next step is wax, wax, wax. Use a soft glide wax (Swix CH 10) exclusively for the first 5 to 10 waxings. You don't have to scrape the wax off each time during the prep phase, simply reheat the wax, but make sure there is enough on the base so that you don't over heat the base. More in depth info can be found at www.swixsport.com and through the skipost.com weekly mailings - become a skipost member for free from this site.


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How should I store my skis for the summer? For classical skis one should use a wax remover and fiberlene to thoroughly clean all kick-wax and klister from the kick zone, sidewalls and tops of the ski.

Next, the glide zones must be cleaned. You clean the glide zone of a classical ski (tips and tails) the same way you clean the whole base of a skate ski. This is done using a soft wax such as Swix CH-10.

With your iron at a low temperature (so as not to over-heat the base) drip a generous amount of CH-10 on the entire base.

Next, slowly heat the wax and the base by walking the iron from tip to tail. A generous amount of wax is used as a protective layer so the base is not exposed to too much heat. Walk your iron in a slow continuous motion from tip to tail as many times as it takes (about 5 slow passes) until the whole base is covered in a molten, liquid layer of CH-10. This simple method allows for superior wax absorption, and the heat from the iron will open up the pores in the base allowing the dirt, grime and filth hidden therein to rise up into the molten wax.
While the wax is still molten, take a sharp plastic scraper and scrape the liquid mess off your ski.

Next, while the base is still warm, use fiberlene to wipe off the remaining wax. Let the ski cool a little bit.

As the base cools, the pores squeeze a little more wax and dirt out.

Gently scrape the base again and brush with a nylon brush.

The next step is applying the summer layer of wax to the base.

A thick layer of CH-6 will protect the base and will not melt as easily in the summer heat as something soft like CH-10.

S wix Base-prep should be another good wax for this duty - it's new so we haven't tried it over the summer. You do not need to apply any wax on the kick zones of your classical skis, but if you feel compelled to do so, use a hard kick wax such as Swix Special Blue - don't glide wax your kick zone as that will make it harder to get kick wax to stick come next winter.

With a layer of wax on the base, store your skis in as cool a place as you can find. You do this for the sake of the base and also for the sake of the glue that holds the binding-plate down. In very warm conditions even the glue that holds the ski together can be affected by summer heat. To avoid softening the camber of your skis, store your skis with your ski-ties loosely fastened. Skis should not spend the whole summer strapped tightly together, especially in hot conditions. If you take the time to care for your skis, they will run fast for you next winter.


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Clothing (Advanced through Beginner readers)
Underwear is the most important part of dressing for skiing. Contrary to popular belief, the wicking ability of clothing is secondary to ventilation. The body functions optimally within a very narrow temperature zone. Body heat is a byproduct of work, and when you're active you need to expel the extra heat created by your muscles in order to perform at your potential and be as comfortable as you can be. Next-to-skin underwear products (rather than loose fitting underwear) help you expel heat thereby greatly reducing the loss of fluids, preserving your most important energy source, and keeping you in the optimal temperature zone.

The body perspires as a means of temperature control. Proper garments allow moisture to move away from the skin at an appropriate rate, while air-channels next to the skin should increase airflow thus keeping your temperature within the zone of peak performance.

Both an overly wet shirt and a shirt with overly active wicking properties lead to dehydration in the long term. A skier looses 0.2 pints each 1/2 mile, about 2 pints per hour, or 1.5 % of your body weight, drinking helps, but the body can only absorb around 1.2 pints per hour. Hence preserving your fluids by maintaining optimal body temperature helps you to increase your performance (see also "Energy and Hydration" "Performance" section).
Instead of wicking moisture away faster and faster good underwear balances the wicking and ventilation properties of their garments to help you stay within the optimal temperature zone.

Hats and gloves are a vital part of staying warm in cold conditions. Having cold fingers or ears can be dangerous and at best will make your ski outing much less fun. While the under-layer of clothing is designed to ventilate thereby allowing the body to breath and expel heat before condensation occurs. The second layer should transport heat away from the skin leaving your skin dry and allowing your body to keep vital fluids rather than sweating them away. This runs contrary to what one might think for outdoor winter wear, but the truth is, cross-country skiing produces enough heat to keep the body warm (and that modern clothing easily maintains this heat in even extreme conditions), so the major consideration when cross-country skiing is keeping from over-heating. The outer layer protects the body from the elements by not allowing wind, rain or snow to penetrate and wet the skin while venting the body's heat at an appropriate rate. Your body can lose heat through 5 different methods, respiration (breathing), radiation (emission of rays of heat from the body), evaporation (sweat or moisture turning in to a gas), conduction (heat lose from touch) and convection (wind, air movement). We recommend Craft under and outerwear. In the summer months Craft maximizes the body's means to release heat to help your body cool down. In the winter Craft balances the body's cooling / heating methods to keep you warm, but not hot and certainly not wet. All in all, Craft Technology ensures that you can go longer, and faster in greater comfort.


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Energy and Hydration
Tips for racers, health, fitness and weight management (see chart below: how does cross-country skiing compare as a weight burner?" Cross-country skiing is a high-energy sport. For this reason it's a great activity for gaining and maintaining health, fitness and weight. One burns more calories per hour cross-country skiing then doing almost anything else (please see chart below).

Health and Weight Management Ski racers must consume a high calorie diet just to keep up with the energy demands of the sport. While a ski racers would consume something high in protein and carbohydrates right after skiing and often consume energy bars, gels and drinks during training. A skier interested in weight management would obviously not want to consume such high calorie foods, however even for weight management it is be best to consume a snack after skiing while the body is still hungrily burning fuel. This will help the skier recover from the outing enabling them to maintain a consistently active lifestyle (which is more important and healthier than pure dieting) and hold off any binging caused by self-induced periods of starvation.
It is better to eat regularly and monitor the type and volume of calories than to skip meals. At the same time totally avoiding certain types of food can have an adverse affect on both weight loss and health. The body will store what it cannot get enough of. For this reason eating no fat is less successful then simply reducing the amount and types of fat one eats. The key, of course, is balancing the diet to include everything the body needs and balancing the caloric intake with caloric needs.

Cross-country skiing regularly enables one to consume more calories than someone who is not active because more calories are needed. It also grants the skier more energy with which they can live a more all-round active, energetic and happy lifestyle.


How does Cross-country skiing compare as a calorie burner?
Find the weight that is closest to yours in the charts below, and read down your column to compare the exercise value of cross-country skiing with other activities.
The charts are based upon a similar sustained effort in all activities. *

How many calories will I burn in 30 minutes?

Your Weight
Your Activity
115 pounds 132 pounds 154 pounds 187 pounds
Cross-country skiing 413 calories 473 calories 551 calories 669 calories
Running at a 10 min/mile pace 281 calories 321 calories 375 calories 455 calories
Biking uphill 248 calories 284 calories 331 calories 402 calories
Paddling a canoe or kayak 221 calories 252 calories 294 calories 357 calories
Downhill skiing 221 calories 252 calories 294 calories 357 calories
Golfing, walking & pulling a cart 193 calories 221 calories 257 calories 312 calories
Fishing with continual wading movement 165 calories 189 calories 220 calories 268 calories

How long will it take to burn 500 Calories?


Your Weight
Your Activity
115 pounds 132 pounds 154 pounds 187 pounds
Cross-country skiing 36 minutes 32 minutes 27 minutes 22 minutes
Running at a 10 min/mile pace 53 minutes 47 minutes 40 minutes 33 minutes
Biking uphill 60 minutes 53 minutes 45 minutes 37 minutes
Paddling a canoe or kayak 68 minutes 60 minutes 51 minutes 42 minutes
Downhill skiing 68 minutes 60 minutes 51 minutes 42 minutes
Golfing, walking & pulling a cart 78 minutes 68 minutes 58 minutes 48 minutes
Fishing with continual wading movement 91 minutes 79 minutes 68 minutes 56 minutes

* Courtesy of Owen Murphy, Graduate Student, Department of Health and Human Development, Montana State University, Bozeman, Montana. Calculations are based upon the upper end of the range (high intensity) of Metabolic Equivalents for each activity.

Performance
To keep up with the energy expenditure one needs to fuel the body both before during and after skiing. Energy demands vary greatly from person to person and from need to need. A ski racer training for competition will consume large quantities of food (a balanced diet including protein, fat, vitamins and minerals, and a lot of carbohydrates). Ski racers try to consume something high in protein and carbohydrates right after skiing and often consume energy bars, gels and drinks during training. The reason for this is to maintain muscle and liver glycogen stores as well as blood sugar levels insuring a quick recovery from each training session and to maintain a high level of performance during training.

In ski racing the body's store of carbohydrates is one of the greatest factors limiting performance. High intensity exercise like ski racing requires carbohydrates. Run low on carbo's and the body must switch to fat as its source of energy. Fat cannot be used as fuel without an adequate intake of oxygen. To get enough oxygen to burn fat for energy, the intensity of exercise must drop. Slowing down is contrary to our aim. Cross-country ski racing breeds a high-energy lifestyle of action, adventure and health. Remember, it isn't just ski racing that places a high demand on you body's store of energy - it is life it self.

In a long ski race, or during a long training session you can lose about 5% of the bodies stores of sodium and chloride. A loss of even 1% of your sodium and chloride stores can mean severe muscle cramps and a deterioration of the body's ability to regulate heat. Energy drinks with too high an electrolyte content actually slow the rate you can absorb liquids. You will not be staying hydrated or replacing your electrolytes and you'll have a gut full of liquid sloshing around.

Hydration is known to be very important and most people don't drink nearly enough during training or racing. Hydration also aids in recovery (as well as performance), so even a short race or training session demands steps to insure adequate hydration. Muscle glycogen levels and blood glucose levels must be maintained in order to perform optimally. The brain and the nervous system can only use blood-delivered glucose as they cannot store their own energy. Blood glucose levels are primarily regulated by the liver. The liver contains large stores of glucose, but these stores are depleted, as is muscle glycogen, during training and racing. Ingesting energy products with a (large) 80% composition of complex carbohydrate, during and after training and racing will help maintain blood glucose levels, spare muscle glycogen stores and help the central nervous system function optimally (a key to holding off a bonk). Maintaining muscle and liver energy stores is important not only with regard to performing well on any given day but when it comes to performing well day after day. Staying healthy, avoiding injury and training at a high level is dependent upon keeping your energy stores up. Eating solid or near solid food during exercise in an attempt to maintain glucose levels can cause a great deal of blood to be diverted from the muscles, where you really need it, to the stomach which must work hard to digest these solid sources of energy. It can be better to consume liquid energy rather than solid energy for this reason. We recommend E-3 by First Endurance to fulfill our energy and taste needs. Check out the entire First Endurance product line at www.firstendurance.com.
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