CXC Post-Nationals Report
CXC had a great US Nationals this year — a sweep in the women’s skate sprint, Jessie Diggins winning four US National titles (three outright, with only Dasha Gaizova — Canadian and 9th in World Cup sprint this year besting her), Karl Nygren re-emerging as a sprinter to look out for, and 66% of all the women’s podiums. The common thread in all of these races was Toko wax. (I mostly work with the glide waxes, and Gus does kick — so sometimes I’m not 100% on what he does for grip).
Throughout the week, we tested many combinations of wax, and a couple of really interesting things came up. For the first race, the aforementioned skate sprint, HelX Red was insanely good. Jennie Bender, Jessie Diggins and Caitlin Gregg clearly had the fastest skis in the field, and Karl Nygren easily could have finished higher than 6th place, had there been more finishing lanes. The downhill finish at Rumford makes tactics extremely important — in retrospect, with skis like that, the draft wasn’t as big of an issue it could have been, and Karl could have lead down the last downhill.
Ian Harvey came by our wax cabin for the skate distance races reporting that Jetstream Red and Blue block together was very good and … he was right. I’d never mixed the blocks before, but they ran extremely well. I’d like to do more experimentation — we race the blue over the red, because we thought the blue might not rub off on the softer red. We did vice versa later on that week, but I’m not sure which one makes more sense.
For the classic distance races, we ran with a super safe bet: HF Blue (mixed with a hard graphite) and Jetstream Red and Blue powder mixed 50:50. We thought we needed the hardness of the HF layer to combat dirt and the hard snow, and the fluoro layer would be good if things warmed up or cooled down during the race. As it turns out, it began to snow right before the start, so the hard HF might not have been all that important. For both the women and the men’s kick, we ran a layer of Green klister wiped off, then a layer of Base Green ironed in. We had a mix of kicks running, depending on who the skier was.
On the classic sprint day, we went on the Red-Blue block over the HF layer … no powder. As the sprint day went on, we went back to the HelX Red, as it seems to run well when the snow is really worked over. Despite some icy sections, we ran on straight hard waxes. These were sort of ephemeral waxing jobs — fast, effective, not necessarily durable … but refreshed between the heats so they stood up. Sprint days are certainly the hardest on wax techs.
All in all, the CXC coaches were really happy and extremely tired post-Nationals — but the results make it all worth it!
Jason Cork, CXC Elite Team Head Coach
Clarke Sullivan, Serviceman for Torin Koos
As you know we had great success at Nationals with Toko top coats. In both Sprints Torin raced on JetStream Red and Blue crayoned on and then roto corked together. We also used the same combination of Red and Blue powder ironed in the Classic distance race. We routinely used 2 HF reds to 1 blue as the under layer. All season we found it is easier to mix in HF red or blue depending on the free moisture content of skied-in track conditions or even due to natural transformation of the snow. We monitored this window of change and found at Nationals more HF red was needed after the sprint qualifications as we remade skis for the heats. We also tested x-cold powder in with Blue powder for increased durability in the top layer and found it didn’t seem to slow things down. Racing on manmade snow the abrasiveness of the broken snow crystals with high humidity lead us to try these methods. On the kick side of things we really liked using base green with dots of base green klister as a binder. We also found the new red kick wax worked very well alone over the binder and even held up well with very little shearing from the hardness of the classic track. All week hard wax options covered over a klister drop melt in binder was the ticket. In one instance we tested red klister straight over a base green hard wax binder and we found it offered a free ski feeling but all around the track never fully glazed to the degree we anticipated (as is more common in natural snow klister conditions), so we still prefered the red hard wax as the race option. It is with great gratitude to you Ian and the hard work of your ski testers/technicians that we and Torin were able to find great success at Nationals, it was truly a team effort, and we wouldn’t have been able to find success without the aid and support and guidance of your test results.
CSU tested lots of combinations, but found that the recommended mix of Blue and Red JetStream was the best topcoat. We had also used the recommendation of HF Blue with Cold Powder for our base layer. Our skis were clearly as fast or faster than other skis. Corey Stock was able to attack on the downhills during the heats to make it into the A final. She finished 4th behind the 3 CXC gals who were on the same topcoats. Not bad for a 17 year old high school senior.
The Bridger Ski Foundation arrived in Rumford, Maine for the 2012 US National Championships unsure of what conditions to expect. Despite unseasonably warm temperatures and a complete lack of natural snow in the area, the Chisholm Ski Club was able to provide a well-prepared and fair course for all of the competitors to race on during the weeklong series.
Racing on man-made snow always presents its challenges, and the courses in Rumford were no exception. A substantial amount of rain followed by cold temperatures early on in the week had us initially scratching our heads about how to approach the waxing for the week. One thing was clear right off the bat: some sort of graphite or moly under-layer was an absolute must for every race. We even found that an under-layer like Toko HF Moly ran very well on its own when compared to other base waxes, but considering that the course was so hard (as a result of being soaked through and subsequently frozen), we knew it couldn’t hold up on its own, since it is a softer wax. As such, mixing Toko Cold Powder in with the HF Moly was a good starting point. Harder graphites from other companies also ran very well, but we found that a high flouro content was needed in the transformed, man-made snow.
Base waxes were a bit of a challenge for the first sprint race. The race had been postponed due to overnight rain, and since coaches and athletes were not allowed to ski on the course while the organizers repaired the course, we did not have a chance to do a thorough test of base waxes for the new conditions. Again, since the course was soaked with rain and then frozen, we chose to run on Toko HF Blue, since it is a very good hard wax with an appropriate flouro content. As the week progressed, we continued to find that very hard base waxes with high flouro contents ran the best. Moreover, we tried several different combinations of cold, hard base waxes mixed with warmer, high-flouro waxes. We found that a small amount of warmer wax (reds, primarily) mixed with the cold waxes ran exceptionally well.
As for pure-flouro top coats, the same trend as the base waxes seemed to hold true: mixing cold and warm top coats was a winning combination. A mix of Toko JS Red and Blue block was great, especially towards the end of the week. Liquids were also running surprisingly well, considering that temperatures were not really that warm throughout the week.
Finally, finding a suitable kick wax presented the biggest challenge for us throughout the week. Just when we thought we were getting close to a great wax choice, the weather would change ever so slightly and throw us off again. There was one constant though: there was enough ice present in the tracks that klister was always something to consider. We really like the Toko Green Base Spray klister, since it is easy to apply in thin layers-thin layers were the key when applying klister for each race! For the men’s 30km, new snow was falling early in the race, so if you overdid it on the klister base, skis became incredibly slow and draggy. Covering the klister with an appropriate hard wax really helped to speed things up.
All in all, we were quite pleased with our skis, despite the challenges the course threw at us. With a little patience, creativity, and effort, there is always some way of waxing some fast skis!
Bjørn Bakken, BSF
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