US Nationals Waxing Commentary

FasterSkierJanuary 14, 20091

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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.

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.

Recommended Iron Temperatures Chart

Toko Iron Temperature Chart

This chart as well as a whole lot of other practical information is located on the info center portion of the Toko US website. You can find it by going to, clicking on Nordic, and then on Info Center. Or click this link.

View Archived Toko eBlasts

Go to and click on the “View Past Toko eBlasts” box on the bottom of the page.


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One comment


    January 15, 2009 at 7:36 am

    Interesting. i just waxed for a race in France along a little river in the Grand Bornand region. it was cold, -7 degrees C air temp, but I guess not nearly as cold as in AK. I used LF Blue on one pair and HF blue white and red on a second pair-some of the cours was in the trees along the river and some was in a field in the sun. They both seemed fast. There was pleanty of hor frost as there had been over a week of clear nights going down to -12 C. I used all Toko was from 3 years ago or so. I put cold powder (old snow Jet Stream) on top, but rubbed on old snow jetstream block before to help not burn the bases.

    Every time I wax for a race a few questions and problems always come up; I would be greatful to hear thoughts on this:
    1. It seems I almost alway slightly burn my bases trying to put on powder. How should I not burn my bases???
    2. It also seems impossible to get an even layer with powder and is easy to use too much and still get an uneven layer in an effort to not burn the base. I like the block for that, but maybe powder is faster? Does anyone use the helix spray anymore?

    3. Is it 150 C moving pretty quickly looking for a sparkle? Some Toko material i have suggests 120 C, but that doesnt seem to be hot enough to get the powder into the base.

    4. When melting HF or LF Blue, do you want to see the wax be liquid after the iron passes? if it is not liquid in some sections is that ok? If when scraping, it chips off does it really go into the base?

    any tips would be appreciated. i have read the whole Toko US info and find it helpful, but not adressing these specific questions.

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