Understanding Glide and the Factors That Effect It
Ski selection is often overlooked as the focus tends to be on wax. Waxing is the easiest way to change the condition a given ski will function in but is 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 (flex), specifically what conditions are the skis designed to function best in. This is important to understand because regardless of the 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 specifically the length of the high and low-pressure areas of a given ski.
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
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 that 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 way to adjust the structure to the skis flex characteristics is done by stone grinding skis as you gain the ability to tune the structure to the ski but you also remover old base that no longer holding glide wax.( ski base material is basically a dense sponge that seals up due to heat and plastic components in wax.) Stone grinding is a process that cuts the structure into the base leaving a permanent structure versus the temporary structure provided by rilling tools. It is also important to point out that stone grinding is the only way to remover old unwanted structure.
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 skis 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.
I have noticed that many racers are spending a lot of money of race wax but they are not getting the full use from the wax due to sealed based skis that are not flat thus the wax iron is not able to transfer the heat needed to bond the wax to the base.
remember the order of importance
ski selection - structure - wax
- Matt Fox