How to Improve Your Ski Glide

Cross Country Skiing, Service, Wax -

How to Improve Your Ski Glide

When the goal is to get skis to glide faster, wax is often the focus and ski selection and structure are overlooked. Waxing is the easiest way to change the condition a given ski will function but is in fact the last and least effective solution. Changing the wax will only make a small difference in the function of your skis.


When taking glide into consideration the following guide should be followed. 

Ski Selection

Ski selection (flex) refers specifically to what condition the skis are designed to function best in. This is important to understand because, regardless of structure or wax, your skis were designed to perform best in ether general all-around conditions or they were designed to perform in specific conditions, limiting their performance in others. These limitations are due to the pressure distribution of the ski when it flexes, specifically the length of the high and low-pressure areas of a given ski.

Examples:

Soft Track - pressure distribution is set back further from the tip of the ski allowing the tip of the ski to float up and over soft snow

Hard Track - pressure distribution is set closer to the tip, driving the tip into the snow giving you better control

Warm - shorter higher pressure areas vs Cold - longer lower pressure area 

Structure

The structure is the second factor to consider when selecting skis. You may be asking what structure is. Structure is a series of grooves cut or pressed into the ski base creating a pattern that interacts with the snow. The purpose of the structure is to tune the ski base to specific conditions. This can be done with rilling tools or by stone grinding the skis. A rilling tool will press into or drag across the base to create peaks and valleys that allow large snow crystals to pass by or create turbulence under the ski, aiding glide. The best and more permanent way to adjust the structure to the skis flex characteristics is done by stone grinding. Stone grinding is a process that cuts the structure into the base leaving a permanent structure versus the temporary structure provided by rilling tools. By stone grinding you gain the ability to tune the structure to the ski but you also remove old base material that is no longer holding glide wax. Ski base material is basically a dense sponge that seals up over time due to heat and plastic components in wax. It is also important to point out that stone grinding is the only way to remove old, unwanted structure.

 

Wax

Wax is the easy part of the whole glide solution because it can be changed from day to day based on conditions and can even give marginal improvements to incorrect ski or structure selection. It is important to keep your ski base clean and stone grind your race skis at least once per year to avoid throwing good money after bad, as you will not get the performance out of expensive wax if your ski base is not able to accept the wax.

Remember the order of importance:

Ski selection - Structure - Wax

Keep these factors in mind and your skis will be gliding quickly in no time.