This week, Norwegian wax techs and Head Wax Coach Knut Nystad are headed for the ski tunnel in Torsby, Sweden, with truckloads of skis and tools to find the optimal combinations.
“Normally, the national teams have a training camp in the ski tunnel, but this year they don’t. So we decided to have a testing camp here on our own,” Nystad explains to www.langrenn.com.
Testing and adjusting
Although it is, as Nystad points out, not a national team camp, several of the national team skiers will be in the tunnel to help the test crew and get their own boards dialed. “We’ll go through all the skis in the current ski pool, as well as test any new skis the racers have received over the summer. In short, we’re doing inventory and fine-tuning the ski pool,” Nystad says.
What can the wax team learn from testing in a tunnel?
“If you stay within the manufacturers’ ‘series,’ you’re fine. In our experience, those test results will correspond to what you’ll find on real snow,” Nystad replies, adding that he has already completed some of the initial testing for the upcoming season.
“We started the testing at Sognefjellet in June, and we’re on track. We have constant conversations with the skiers and the wax techs. We got off to a good start. Now we need to decide how to continue the project with the racers and the wax crew”
There were some changes in the wax crew roster after last season, and the new techs presented some of their tricks to the racers during the national team camps at Sognefjellet.
“We’ve added a few new faces,” Nystad says. “The new wax team is complete, and there are no changes after what we presented at Sognefjellet. Now we need to make sure we carry a healthy, active dialog between racers and wax techs. That’s a process that pretty much never ends.”
During the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, a lot of the communication between the athletes and wax techs was delivered via the media. Especially in the beginning of the Games, when the Norwegian racers had sub-par results, there were a significant number of “ice clumps in the klister,” as Nystad put it. However, missed opportunities in the first few days evened out, and the racers regained their game as the Games went on. So despite the initial trouble, Nystad believes the wax team weathered the storm well and came away a stronger unit.
“Over time, this was actually a really good experience,” he says. “The media seems to love creating scapegoats, but the relationship between the racers and the wax techs is a team effort. The racers rely on the wax techs, and the wax techs rely on the racers. During the Olympics, there was far too much focus on isolated details. But those are insignificant in the big picture.”
“Overall, Norway was the top nation in cross-country skiing at the 2010 Olympics. We were also the top cross-country nation during the 2009 and the 2007 World Championships. We hope to continue that record on home turf for the 2011 World Championships this season,” Nystad said.
Although Norway’s skiers, coaches and wax techs are all doing their best to succeed in Holmenkollen–and surely have some home turf advantage–there are several contenders.
“We’ll have a lot of bodies at Holmenkollen and in the surrounding areas this winter who will be testing relentlessly, focusing on the World Championships at home. But there are a lot of racers and wax techs out there all over the world wanting a piece of the podium, so you can’t take anything for granted,” Nystad says.
These racers will be helping the wax crew in Torsby this week:
Eirik Myhr Nossum (ski tester for Petter Northug jr.)
Astrid Uhrenholdt Jacobsen
Maiken Caspersen Falla
Kristian T. Rennemo
Martin J. Sundby
From Langrenn.com, August 16, 2010. By Ivar Haugen, translation by Inge Scheve
Inge is FasterSkier's international reporter, born and bred in Norway. A cross-country ski racer and mountain runner, she also dabbles on two wheels in the offseason. If it's steep and long, she loves it. Follow her on Twitter: @IngeScheve.