Getting good glide on skis can take less than 10 minutes

Posted: Thursday, February 08, 2001

KENAI (AP) -- Waxing a ski can be about as simple and cheap, or complicated and expensive, as the skier wants to make it.

Just how complicated and expensive?

In 1998, when Skyview assistant principal Allan Miller went to the Nagano Winter Olympics as an assistant for the U.S. Biathlon team, the group went with a budget of $30,000 for wax.

Miller would stay awake through the night, endlessly applying wax to skis and testing them to make sure America's biathletes would get optimum glide. If the ski was three- or four-hundredths of a second faster in a 10-meter test chute, it could mean valuable seconds throughout a race.

Just how simple and cheap?

Alan Boraas, a former high school ski coach and Kenai Peninsula resident since about 1970, can get his skis waxed in less than 10 minutes. He also has a system of eight inexpensive waxes that will cover both the classical and skate skier in at least 95 percent of the conditions during a typical peninsula winter.

The total price of these waxes is under $40.

So, which end of the spectrum should the recreational skier gravitate toward?

Follow Thoreau. Simplify, simplify, simplify.

''For beginners, or anyone, don't get frustrated if the wax doesn't work too well,'' Boraas said. ''Try to work with it by doing things like altering your technique.

''Don't expect it to be perfect all of the time. The main idea is don't let wax get in the way of having a good time.''

There are basically two types of wax -- kick wax and glide wax. Those with skate skis need to apply glide wax to the entire base of the ski.

Those with waxable classical skis need both glide wax and kick wax. Kick wax is applied on the base under the binding.

If you hit the trail and the wax isn't just right, it's not time to freak out.

''Waxing is one part science, one part mystery,'' Boraas said. ''Sometimes, even with a bunch of experience, the wax is wrong. Make it work.''

If skiers have both classical and skate skis, they can increase their chances of having a good wax by skating when the temperature is near 32 degrees and classical skiing as the temperature nears 0 degrees.

That's because skate waxing gets tough as temperatures drop near 0, while classical waxing can be frustrating when the temperature is around freezing.

Boraas also had some advice for those with new skis. Take glide wax, the warmer the better, and drip it and melt it onto the ski. For skate skis, do the entire bottom. For classical skis, just do the glide zone.

Drip and melt the wax on the new ski three to five times. Scraping does not have to be done after every melt, but make sure the ski is allowed to cool for at least 15 minutes between each dripping and melting. Not allowing the ski to cool could eventually wreck the ski.

Those with old skis should have stored skis over the summer with a thick layer of warm glide wax covering the bottom. If this step wasn't taken, there are probably white areas on the bottom of the skis now.

''The ski bases get oxidation,'' Boraas said. ''That means they won't accept wax.''

To solve this problem, get the skis stone ground at a ski shop or have a qualified person metal scrape the bottom of the ski. Another method is to use 150-grit sandpaper and scrape, tip to tail, until the oxidation is gone.


(Distributed by The Associated Press)

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