Skip navigation
www.usskipoles.com/

US Nationals Waxing Commentary

Fri, Jan  16, 2009 - By Bryan Fish

Bryan Fish is the head coach of the very successful CXC team.  CXC member Caitlin Compton won the women's 5k skate and Matt Liebsch finished 3rd in the men's 10k skate.  They were observed as having had extremely fast skis.  CXC uses Toko waxes exclusively.  Here is what Bryan Fish had to say about his waxing experiences at Nationals:

Wax Testing at US Nationals in Anchorage, Alaska
Bryan Fish

 
We arrived in Anchorage on December 26th to allow time for the CXC Elite athletes and coaches the opportunity to familiarize to the courses and conditions.  Many of the US SuperTour events prior to US Nationals were spoiled by warm weather.  It was apparent that US Nationals would not have this issue.  The highs were in the single digits upon arrival and a "colder" cold front was on the horizon.  The conditions at Kincaid were hard pack and older snow.  Similar conditions to the last US Nationals at Kincaid in 1994 for US Nationals/ Olympic Trials for the Lillehammer Olympics. 
 
We focused a great deal of attention testing ski structure and glide wax to maximize glide in the extreme slow snow conditions.  Temperatures bottomed out at lower then negative twenty degrees Fahrenheit and unfortunately only crested negative four degrees Fahrenheit (FIS legal temperature limit) for two of days.  None the less, we made the assumption that every day would warm to legal temps and tested.  Only two of the four races were held at US Nationals - five/ ten kilometer skate and a classic sprint.
 
The conditions in Anchorage are unique due to the proximity to the ocean.  Fog rolled directly onto the ski trails and hoarfrost covered everything.  This frost covered the trails and slowed glide due to the sharp crystal structure.  Kick was very easy to establish and very cold hard waxes were effective in most situations.
 
We glide tested with speed traps as well as skiing "feel" tests.  Speed trap tests were consistent with feel tests.  Classic tracks were substantially different then out of the track.  Slightly warmer glide wax and slightly more aggressive cold/ fine grinds would run better in track but colder waxes and extremely fine structure was necessary out of track.  Glide testing was conducted appropriate for the race discipline of the day. 
 
We tested three major aspects of glide.  First we wanted to test base glide wax.  Secondly, we focused on the combination and straight applications of hardener and third were whether or not fluorocarbons would enhance glide.
 
A strong base wax combination for us in western SuperTours during the fall of 2006 and 2007 was HF blue or HF blue mixed with X Cold hardener.  This combination has also been popular for us in cold Midwest SuperTours and the American Birkebeiner the past two seasons.  LF blue is also a popular wax in extreme cold.  The snow in Anchorage was extremely cold but HF blue prevailed in our speed trap and "feel" testing.  We also mixed LF blue with X cold hardener and tested that against HF blue with X cold hardener.  X cold hardener enhanced both LF and HF blue but HF blue with X cold hardener outperformed LF blue with X cold hardener.  Tests out of the track showed a second layer of X cold powder alone atop the HF blue with X cold hardener improved glide but in track tests displayed this step not to be necessary. 
 
Consistent with past results, fluorine enhanced glide even at these cold temperatures.  Very cold and hard fluorine was necessary and block forms displayed the best performance.  The new Toko Blue Jetstream block performed very well both in and out of the track.  The powder also performed will in track.
 
Very hard and cold classic hard waxes tested best.  Personal preference played a significant role, but Toko Mint Strait was a popular wax for us in the sprint distance.  An ironed in thin layer of Green Binder enhanced kick while Mint straight optimized glide.