BNS: Championship Week

FasterSkierMarch 11, 2011

This is championship week and Boulder Nordic Sport is spread out all over the continent doing wax support at World Masters in British Columbia, Junior Nationals in Minneapolis and NCAA Championships in Vermont.  With a lot riding on results at these major events, it has been fun to contribute our ski service expertise to help the teams and athletes achieve their goals.  The following reports show a little bit of what is involved with running race service at big events, what has been running fast, and how we make decisions on race day.

BNS has stores in Boulder, Colorado, Portland, Maine, a mobile store that travels to events, and an online shop at  BNS Mobile will be in Minneapolis at Theodore Wirth Park until Saturday, March 12, so stop by and stock up on wax and tools.

Junior Nationals Sprint and Mass Start Classic Quick Recap

Eric Pepper and Roger Knight

Here’s what we have seen so far. – C22/C105 Solid, SkiGo C55/99, SkiGo C105 Powder, Zeros, and Hairies have all had a great week so far at Junior Nationals.

We have been running a topcoat combination of SkiGo C22 solid and C105 solid. That ran really well on the sprint day and tested well again the morning of the classic. For application of that we are applying the C105 first, heavy on the front tip quarter of the ski and lighter on the tail, we then rub the C22 solid right over the top of that, light on the first quarter and then heavier as we move towards the tail, hand cork, let cool, brush. This combination was also extremely successful for us at US Nationals in Rumford back in January. We have also liked SkiGo C55/99 Fluid a lot(also very good at US Nats this year), it won our topcoat test the morning of the classic race and was consistently at the top for us on the sprint day. Various teams for the first two races here have used both of these extensively.

For the mass start classic races kick was obviously going to be the focus on most teams given the conditions. Testing the day before the race SkiGo C105 powder was 3rd for us, but very close to 1st and 2nd. We advised teams to go with C105 as we felt it was the safest call and we knew that most teams would want to get powder down the day before in order to put their full focus into kick waxing. It turned out to be a really good call as it then won our feel test the morning before the race.

The weather for the classic race was 0C and lightly snowing. The track varied a lot in consistency throughout the course but featured a mix of powdery snow, water, ice, and glazed tracks. There were 3 solutions that we were happy with. “Zero” skis had a very good day out there and many skiers used them to success. We made up some test skis with hairies on them and they were fantastic and in my option the best solution we had. With both zeros and hairies the manner in which you rub up the base plays a factor so it is good to play with application methods when the conditions present themselves. The other thing that we liked at times was Holmenkol Red grip wax. I haven’t used the Holmenkol line much, but Roger had a race earlier this year in similar conditions where it ran well for him and again today it was pretty good. I definitely preferred the hairies, but for teams struggling making those the Holmenkol Red worked.

Not to turn this into a advertisement, but BNS accidentally doubled up on Fischer Zero picks this past season so we have 60 pairs still in inventory and are offering a sale price of $350 on all Zero and RCS Skate/Classic skis that we have we have on hand in the 2010-2011 model.  This is a great opportunity to pickup Zeros at discounted pricing.

Masters World Cup – Silver, Star British Columbia – Nathan Schultz

I arrived in Silver Star straight from the World Championships in Norway.  Luckily, the conditions were pretty easy from the start and on the first day I hit the ground running with information from Mike Mappin of Canmore Nordic Sport and the crew at Stussi Sport, who had been testing all week.  The weather had been pretty stable with lows of -7C and highs of -4C for several days, with constant snow flurries and high humidity/fog.  Since I didn’t have enough time to get my feet under me and do race service on the first day, I figured I would get a good feel for the conditions by jumping in the 10km skate race myself.

My ski fleet was limited to a cold pair and a warm pair, and I waxed them both up with Holmenkol Matrix Red, tested them out against each other, made my race pick, and then powdered up the race skis quickly with Holmenkol Mid Powder and then applied Mid Block with a hand cork. It took me about 35 minutes to test skis and get them race ready, but I still only managed to get a 10 minute warm-up in, which made the race pretty painful.  I was nervous applying the Mid Block, because the humidity and temperature seemed to call for warmer solutions, but everyone assured me that that was truly the best option due to the sharp, new snow crystals.  I had good skis in the race, and I learned quite a bit by talking to the athletes that finished around me to see what they had used.

I wrapped up my race and went out and tested paraffin waxes in preparation for doing ski service in the upcoming races.

Day Two: Rest Day

I used the rest day before the relay to test paraffin waxes, structures, fluoro powders and blocks so I would be ready to make some fast skis for clients in the upcoming races.  We are pretty spoiled at BNS, with 40 pairs of test skis, and usually testing is pretty easy – we take a fleet of 8 out with paraffins, and a fleet of 8 out with powders.  With only 5 pairs of test skis with me, I had to wax all of the paraffin skis, then zero them out with the same wax, apply fluoro powders, and then go test those.

With the unusual snow conditions, I tested things all over the map to try to figure out which direction to search for the killer wax that would make people really happy.  In the paraffin test, it results were strange: there were two groups of successful options: the Reds and Greens, and the blue range was terrible.  It seemed that there were two thing to fight: sharp snow crystals and high humidity.  The best solution was going to be harder waxes with high fluoro content.  Holmenkol Matrix Red and Swix HF8 were both testing well.

In the powder test, cold powders were destroying everything else.  SkiGo C105 and Holmenkol Mid Powder were far superior to everything else I tried, and since I had good results on the Mid Powder the day before, I felt that was a solid choice.

Day Three: Relays

The relays were exciting and challenging.  I tested kick wax and found that I really liked Guru Green and Swix VR30 was also good, which was bizarre given that the snow was -5C and humidity was 95%.  The challenge was that many skiers didn’t have the perfect flex skis and were not able to kick those combos, so we had to find solutions that gave people enough kick but were not too slow.  A common choice was Swix VR40 covered with VR30 or Guru Green.

As the skating races approached, glide wax became my focus and I tested rub-on fluoro blocks since the race was only 5km.  Holmenkol Mid was once again winning with SkiGo C105 close behind.

After the race I tested fluoro powders again and SkiGo C105 had switched up and become the new leader.

Day Four: Distance Skate Races

Things got a bit more exciting Thursday morning with ridiculously high humidity, fog and snow temps were hovering at -5C when I showed up at the venue at 7:30AM.  I was waxing for 11 people including myself with start times at 9:00AM, 10:00 AM and 10:50AM.  I waxed everyone’s skis with SkiGo LF Graphite, then Holmenkol Matrix Red.  For my early starters, I had applied the C105 fluoro powder the night before.  I got the to the venue and set up, then brushed all of the early starters’ skis.  I then went out and tested fluoro powders.

The air was so wet that you could feel it while skiing, so I expected that some of the warmer fluoros would come into play.  The C105 was still the clear leader, so I went back and started focusing on testing hand structure.  Skiers started filtering in and trying out their skis.  Most people came back feeling that their skis were a bit draggy, so I applied the Holmenkol cross structure tool and a C105 block application.  This made everyone happy and the headed off to their starts.

I went back out to test fluoros again, thinking that it had probably turned to warmer fluoros.  The warmer stuff was better, but still the cold fluoros were clearly winning.  I was working with Mike Mappin and we were both really flustered, feeling like it was going to change, but not willing to take the risk and apply something on race skis that was terrible right now, but would probably be really good in 30 minutes.

The sun came out and things turned quickly.  I warmed up my 10AM starters skis with a SkiGo C22 block and some heavy hand structure.  I then did up new test skis with Holmenkol Warm Powder and sent one of the athletes out to test it against C105.  He came back 30 seconds later and said “there is no comparison the Warm killed it”.  I sent him out to compare SkiGo C22 against the Warm powder and meanwhile organized all of the race skis I still had to finish.  We had 35 minutes before the start and when I got the call that C22 won the test, I went to town, powdering skis with a bunch of racers standing around looking anxious.

I cranked through all of the skis with powder, and then brushed each pair, applied the Holmenkol structure tool, then corked in a layer of C22 solid by hand.  The skiers grabbed their skis and took off to the start, I pulled my race skis down and did them up and then ran over to the start.

SkiGo C22 is amazing stuff when it gets wet. I started in the back group of my race and was in about fifteenth place when we hit the first little downhill.  I got into a tuck and flew up to the leaders and went by them like they were standing still. One of the athletes whose skis I had waxed was right behind me and started yelling “I think you nailed the wax.”  So it was a fun day and all the hard work pays off when you have skis that are so good you laugh.

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