Rocky Mountain Waxing & the Moose Chase experience

Erich WilbrechtFebruary 18, 2010

Hi All- after my non blog a couple weeks back I thought I’d actually write something, and hopefully this will be of value for skiers/waxers/coaches who train and race in the Intermountain or Rocky Mountain West.

Last weekend was the Moose Chase, our local ski marathon in Jackson Hole. The course is a two lap affair held at Trail Creek Ranch, a wooded, hilly course that sits on a forested bench at 65oo at the base of Teton Pass. The weather clearing skies with intermittent snow showers mixed with wind and blowing powder in the open fields near the start and finish. Temps were in the high 20’s to low 30’s.

I posted the wax tip two days prior, and stuck with our old standby, HF Red/Blue mix, covered with Jetstream Blue, and minimal structure on the skis. As temps continued to rise prior to race time I fielded numerous questions from racers if I was “sticking to the wax tip”, and asking whether I actually waxed the same as the tip, implying that I should wax warmer along with climbing temps. What I waxed with was the tip, on both pairs of my race skis, which are Atomics with a CVO Nordic Ultra tune grind, a minimal, broken linear structure good for universal conditions.

Arriving at Trail Creek to test at 9am temps were already in the high 20’s , and yet the snow remained full powder in the shade, and only slightly greasy in the sun. As I watched racers apply structure with rilling tools, and go to their warmer skis, anticipating transforming snow, I went to warm up in the woods and was further convinced of full colder powder conditions. I confirmed this with Jason Travis, a TTT teammate, who also found his “cold” skis running the best with Jetstream Blue.

I’ve been racing now for over 30 years, all over the world, and I am continually surprised at how cold and powdery the snow remains at high altitude western races, especially marathon distances. Except in the case of rainfall, or snow falling in the high 30’s, low 40’s, and wet sticky snow on the tracks, I always find my cold skis, minimimally structured running fast. Last week at the Boulder Mountain Tour we were reminded of this again, as overnight lows surprised weather forecasters by plummeting to below zero, and the track was cold squeeky powder almost the whole 32 km. Many racers overwaxed based on warm snow falling the previous day, and now in the Moose Chase the temptation to go with warm skis, and more structure was even more prevalent as actual temps rose above freezing.

From the onset of the race both my skis, and Jason’s were fast, and though as we raced through sunshine, shady woods, and over and through Moose droppings (there is no wax made for that!), we found our skis consistent with or better than the competition. I am fully convinced (again), and reminded that we can save skiers a lot of headache (and brutally slow skis) by continuing to reassure them of our time tested experience in the Rocky Mountains, and to go with our gut instinct that colder waxes, and HF Blue/Red and Jetstream (Blue) is the safest best in the West.

Tonight I’ll give a wax clinic at Skinny Skis, and many racers will be preparing for both the upcoming Birkie and the West Yellowstone Rendezvous marathons. I’m going to focus on the basics of fast skis;

#1- get a flex that fits your weight and ablility
#2- have your skis ground by professionals with a universal cold grind (for Western Skiers)
#3- invest in the simple Toko system of proven waxes with wide temp ranges
#4- learn how to use your brushes and other tools to ensure full removal of all the wax from the structure.

I hope other TTT members will concur that we can feel confident in our colder wax line, and we can help the skiing public be confident in having fast skis with our wax recommendations. We are doing a great service to keep them away from warmer waxes and aggressive grinds in our cold, dry Rocky Mountain snow.

Good luck and see you on the tracks. Erich

(ps- I felt strong at the Moose Chase and pulled away from Jason near the end. Jason’s wife Inge won the women’s division easily, and Toko skiers dominated the podium)

Erich Wilbrecht

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