First Edition of FasterSkier’s New Question and Answer

FasterSkierNovember 14, 20127

This is the debut article for our new section: a classic Question and Answer. In every biweekly issue of The Start List we will pick a few questions, answer them ourselves, or solicit responses from experts in the ski community. Please submit your own to

We will look to present a variety material – from skiing basics – “Skiing 101,” to more complicated technical issues, and everything in between. This week ski technician extraordinaire Zach Caldwell addresses the idea of kick waxing a zero ski and Gear West staff give an illustrated lesson on keeping road ferrules sharp (some of us will be rollerskiing for some time still).

Question and Answer:

I wonder why the relatively new zero skis can’t be effectively kick waxed? It seems to me that the rubbery, corky, whatevery kick zone, when sanded would hold wax well. When starting long events on blue klister, for example, wouldn’t the hairy section kick in as the snow warmed toward freezing and the klister wore off? I haven’t tried this but I bet somebody has.

— Thor in West Yellowstone

A pair of Kris Freeman’s (USST) Fischer Zero skis.

Zero skis certainly can be kick waxed. There is nothing about the inlay material that prevents the base from holding kick wax, and usually the shape and action of the pocket is suitable for use with kick wax.

Zero skis are purpose-built “hairies”. The inlay material in most zeros contains rubbery stuff that enables the user to quickly and easily create the fuzzy surface that is required for kick in hairies conditions. The inlay material also provides outstanding durability for the hairy texture the facilitates kick.

When you wax over the inlay material you will effectively “mat-down” the fuzzy little hairs that provide kick in “hairies” snow. To make them work well after waxing you should clean them thoroughly with a wax remover, make sure they’re dry, and then re-sand them using 100grit paper and tight circular motions. A small electric sander works very well, and makes short-work of the process.

Because the zeros depend on the fuzzy “hairies” texture for kick, it’s not going to work satisfactorily to expect a wax application to wear-off, exposing functional hairies underneath. You’ll need to decide, before you start skiing, whether you’re going on wax or hairies for the day’s event!

— Zach Caldwell, Caldwell Sport


What is the best way to sharpen rollerski pole tips?

— Dave

Sharp rollerski ferrules are essential to keep you training longer and prevent injury. At Gear West we recommend the Edgecrafter Diamond Sharpener. The tool is substantial enough to give your ferrules a great sharp tip, but also small enough to take with you on workouts. The sharpener comes with three 100% diamond abrasive pads – coarse, medium, and ultrafine. For best results we use the medium pad on roller ferrules.

How to sharpen your tips:

Place the sharpener against the angled side of the ferrule tip. Move sharpener parallel to the ferrule, back & forth until the tip is sharp with a polished look.

Next, sharpen the other half of the ferrule tip. Turn the sharpener and use the same back & forth motion to give your tips a nice sharp point.

— Andrew ‘Sven’ Kroese, Gear West



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  • timg

    November 14, 2012 at 9:42 pm

    Better yet, a green wheel on a bench grinder!

  • Tim Kelley

    November 15, 2012 at 1:50 am

    Agree. Bench grinder, angle grinder, Dremel tool with a chainsaw sharpening bit … power tools beat hand tools.

  • Ben Arians

    November 15, 2012 at 2:39 am

    Dremel tool with the diamond-disc bit is the best I’ve found. Great for coaches because it works fast.

  • gearwestski

    November 15, 2012 at 1:03 pm

    We use a bench grinder in the shop when we have the time. The diamond sharpener is a great option for people that need something on the road. A couple swipes and you are ready to roll. – Sven

  • freeheels

    November 15, 2012 at 1:45 pm

    I don’t use power and I have yet to find a conflict free diamond sharpener therefore i must tough it out like the Patriarchs of the sport. Injury prevention?

  • gearwestski

    November 15, 2012 at 7:21 pm

    Yup, injury prevention. It certainly is not the first thing you think of…BUT, pole slip on pavement can wreck havoc on your limbs, especially in the fall when the pavement is cold and hard. – Sven

  • T.Eastman

    November 15, 2012 at 9:58 pm

    Sounds as though lots of folks are skiing on pavement that’s nice and smooth. Come rollerski here in Whatcom County on our uber-rough chip seal; get better training and never sharpen the pole tips, but…

    … make sure you fillings are good!

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