Efficient Classic Technique
Yields More Fun Skiing
Frustrating Binding Tabs
Skiing Pics this Week
Happy New Year from
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Posts from January 2017
It's the third week of January - mid winter in Montana. I'm having a lot of fun skiing this winter. There's no doubt about that. But the American Birkebeiner 55 km ski race in Wisconsin is a little over four weeks away. And the Rendezvous Race in West Yellowstone is a week after that. I felt the past weekend was a good time to do a little check on my skiing. So Nancy and I headed down to West Yellowstone for a three day weekend.
The first two days there we got quite a bit of new snow. The temperature the entire weekend hovered in the low 20s. The trails were groomed each day and the skiing was fantastic. But the periodic heavy snowfall didn't allow for good photos. So I got in some distance skiing. One session was several hours long and I managed to get in a fun 30 km. It's always reassuring to know I can ski that far without any rest breaks other than for some liquid and a few small snacks.
Monday morning was clear and sunny. The trails had just been groomed. Nancy was gracious enough to photograph me while I skied.
In the photo above I'm skiing a nice diagonal stride. I'm pretty satisfied with my relaxed forward lean, good pushoff on the ski, nice poling position with strong pole push and, in general, the timing of all the movements. It's hard to use one photo to visualize good diagonal stride technique so I'm including a short video below. If you have any questions on what you see, let me know. Use the link in the left column of this page to send me an email.
I'm also trying to incorporate more double poling, especially double poling with a pushoff, into my skiing. This is a great way to change up muscle use and increase speed in certain types of terrain. Double poling with a pushoff is faster than a diagonal stride on flat sections of trail. The photo sequence below shows that technique. Basically it includes weighting a ski and pushing off followed by a pole push with both arms (poles) simultaneously. The arms push on the poles, follow through, relax and begin to swing forward. It's during that forward swing that the next pushoff of the ski occurs. I'm doing OK on the double pole with a pushoff and a little better on just double poling. I think I just need to smooth it out some and add more power.
Improving ski technique, be it skating or classic, allows for more relaxed skiing, greater speed, more endurance and definitely more fun.
There are many ways to enjoy winter. The snow people were created by some of the headquarters staff at Glacier National Park. They often get outside during their lunch hour. A warm day last week was perfect for playing in the snow while being creative.
I switched to a New Nordic Norm (NNN) boot last year because the boot just fit better. The boot switch required a binding change on my skis. The new bindings are NNN Rotefella Xcelerator bindings. The stock binding is in the above left photo. The metal tab in front of the black rubber flexor locks down tight. In fact it is so tight that it is difficult to lift the tab after skiing. I fought with the tab with gloves on and with bare hands. I became frustrated with the binding because opening the tab shouldn't be all that hard.
A week or two after that first time with the NNN binding I was watching an FIS World Cup Cross Country Skiathlon Race on my television. In a Skiathlon athletes race classic style for a certain distance then change skis and poles quickly to skate the remainder of the race. The camera focused closely on several athletes as they changed skis. I immediately noticed that some of their Xcelerator bindings had a bright pink something that my bindings did not. Investigating further I discovered that Rottefella makes NNN Xcelerator Grab Tabs that slip over the metal tab on the Xcelerator binding. Once the Grab Tab is in place the binding is much easier to open. I got a few pair of Grab Tabs in my Christmas stocking that year. No more frustration trying to open the binding!
The weather this week featured a warmup. Temperatures reached 53 on the Rocky Mountain Front. But cold air was trapped in west side valleys that kept the snow quit cold. Higher elevations in the mountains also stayed cool enough to keep the snow as a nice powder. Here are a few scenes from my ski adventures this past week.
Moose are fairlysecretive and often hard to spot. But this one posed nicely for me as I skied past.
Nancy and I enjoyed the deep snow at the Izaak Walton Inn. I always love to see the trees so heavily flocked with snow.
Compare the view above to the view below. Both were taken from my porch only a few days apart. The view is beautiful and always changing. I think the mountains are calling me to go ski! Bye!
Waxing a classic ski for good grip is not all that difficult. This is especially true in colder conditions. Many skiers rub on a thin layer of wax, cork that in, then go ski. Depending on snow conditions that thin layer of wax may wear off quickly or, because it's too thin, not provide enough grip. One solution is to apply a thicker layer of wax. The thicker layer may, especially if it is not corked smooth, may provide less grip or result in snow sticking to the wax. Here's a good tip to get the best grip from a hard wax job.
I call it the Wax Pyramid.
I prepare the glide zones of my ski by ironing in a good hard glide wax. I prefer Toko glide waxes. They come in four colors: Yellow, Black, Red and Blue. These can be mixed right on the ski base to provide optimal glide. Once my skis are glide waxed, scaped and brushed, I apply the grip wax for the snow conditions. For grip in colder conditions I use the Swix VR hard waxes. When the snow gets warm and approaches 32 F I switch to a no-wax or skin ski. Most of the winter, though, a hard waxed ski will work best.
After selecting the wax to use, I crayon in the wax over the full length of the wax pocket. Then cork it in so it is nice and smooth. No lumps or glumps please! Also, when corking the hard wax it is best to cork from the ends of the wax pocket toward the center. This helps build the pyramid.
I apply a second layer that covers the center two-thirds of the wax pocket. Again cork from the ends of the wax layer toward the center. The third layer is shorter yet and covers only the center one-third of the wax pocket. Cork from the end toward the center. The resulting wax application is thickest where the ski rides highest off the snow yet thins where the ski might be gliding on the snow most of the time. The "Wax Pyramid" provides great grip and the best possible glide.
When the snow is especially abrasive or when I plan on a longer ski session I might apply two layers of hard wax in each zone. The key is to keep each layer thin and smooth. Applying more thin layers is always better than fewer thick layers of hard wax. The complete wax application should not take more than a few minutes and is best done on a warm ski indoors. Be sure to carry a wax or two and a cork in your pocket while skiing just in case you need more grip.
The Rendezvous Trails grooming report looked great and the weather forecast was good. So Nancy, Jen, Ron and I headed down to West Yellowstone to celebrate the New Year. This has become somewhat of a tradition now as this was the third year in a row for an Eat, Sleep and Ski New Year in West Yellowstone.
Check out the snow on the roof of the trailhead building and archway to the trails. There's a lot more snow there now than when I was in West just a few short weeks ago.
Plenty of new snow fell during our trip as well. The trails were well groomed but new snow continued to cover up the tracks.
Fortunately the new snow was very fluffy, aka Montana Powder, so skiing in the powder was a joy.
I did mention "Eat, Sleep and Ski!" We pretty much did just that. Peeking from behind the sign is my New Years Eve dinner entree at the Madison Crossing Lounge. It was a delicious bison filet (medium rare) along with a crab cake topped with a mushroom sauce and served with mashed potatoes and asparagus. Very tasty! The chocolate mousse for desert was pretty special too.
I classic skied each day. Ron and Jen did some skating as well. I worked hard to keep up with Ron and caught this view on part of the Windy Ridge trail.
We got plenty of new powder during our three days skiing. Fortunately the sun manged to pop out now and then to add some drama to the skies.
Here's a video taken near the junction of the Volunteer Trail with the Rendezvous Trail. Turn the volume all the way up! The falling powder hushed all sounds from the woods. If the video doesn't start right away it might need a little time to load.