Glide

Yesterday (Saturday January 8) was a good day for skiing, and I seized the day. I had a great ski at Bird’s Hill Park. It was almost impossible not to get a good long glide.


It was overcast, with a light winds. A light snow fell a few times, and the temperature was -13 C in the early afternoon. The new snow made the roads a little slippery, and the road in the park was snow-packed. At one point, as I was approaching Folk Festival Drive along South drive, two young deer ran onto the road from the brush on the east of the road, on my right. They ran along the road for a couple hundred meters. They didn’t seem to want to cross into the open fields on the left, and veered back and jumped back into the woods. They were running at 40 to 50 kph for a bit.
I skied on the Aspen, Chickedee and Esker trails. The trails had been nicely groomed after the two winter storms, and the fresh powder made the tracks very fast. I started at 2:30, and was finished a little after 4:00. I started on the Aspen trail, then too a loop around the Chickadee trail, and then started a second loop of the Chickadee. The Esker trail touches the Chickadee, and I took the crossover and took the Esker back to the parking lot. That route was about 12 or 12.5 kilometers. The classic trails in Bird’s Hill are mainly double tracked, and mainly one way, which means it’s easy to pass or to yield. I saw a dozen other skiers, but was mainly alone. I saw another deer along the Aspen trail. The trees and brush in the park are mainly aspens and scrub oak but there are some evergreen – the vestiges of the shelter belt trees planted by the farmers who tried to live on this sandy esker, before the Province created the park. The trees were heavy with snow, and there were several winter postcard views, even in the thin light under an overcast sky.
Steve and I had planned to ski on December 30, and called it off when the blizzard started. He had waxed his skis, for the first time in many years, and posted about his technique. In and around shovelling snow, I cleaned my skis and applied new hot wax on the glide sections.
I have a basic waxing iron – a block of metal, with a handle, that has to be heated with a propane torch. I melt wax on the iron, drizzle it on, iron it on and scrape it flat. I should just rub the wax in to the ski, like a kicker wax, and then iron it in. The instructions in the newer packages of hot glider waxes are to scrape it hard and brush it. The idea seems is to permeate the synthetic base without leaving visible layer of wax on the surface of the ski. I have tended to do that only about once a year, and to use the Swix green glider. I haven’t been finding the Swix glide waxes in the stores for a few years, and I have switched to Toko. The blue Toko glide wax is the one for dry cold cold powder, which is what we have in Manitoba for most of the season. In theory I should change to a warmer wax for warm conditions and moister snow but I have never bothered.
This time I did some further reading on ski care before waxing. I found a page of gear and waxing links on the Manitoba Cross Country ski association page. The waxing tips on the Swix site were useful. The waxing sites all agreed that the entire length of a synthetic base waxable ski should be waxed, and some favour leaving wax on the base over the summer to keep the base from drying out (I did it because I was too lazy to clean my skis). The consensus is to use a hard glider wax on the glide zones – which is everywhere but the relatively short kick zone – and iron it in hot. (A hard wax like Swix polar, smoothed with a cork, also works fine, since it is basically a gliding wax with no grip when the temperature is above -25 C, and it is easier to apply). According to the Swix page the kick zone starts from the heel plate and is measured forward about 55 cm. I used to have a long kick zone, perhaps 35-40 cm measured from the binding or toe. That seems to be too much, especially behind the foot. I cut the kick zone down and applied glide wax over longer sections of the ski than I used to. Swix says not to apply a specialized glide wax in the kicker zone even, as a base. (If you are using a cold grip wax like Swix Polar as a glide it can also be a base layer under the kicker). Swix suggests multiple thin layers of wax, applied in kick zone, corked out individually.
It was cold on January 3, and I had applied Swix Special green as my kick wax. The first time I skied on the newly waxed skis, I did a dumb thing about putting my skis into cold snow with drops of water on them. See my blog posts of January 4. But today things went beautifully. I added a layer Swix Green in the kick zone, for the warmer conditions. I had a beautiful long ski.
I’m going out with Mike and Steve today for a short exploration of the Assiboine forest.

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