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Simple Ski Waxing For Kids and Their Parents!

Waxing cross-country skis is not nearly as mysterious and complicated as many people believe. An investment in some basic equipment and wax, a bit of knowledge and some effort will result in fast skis and more fun.

Basic Equipment

  • Scrapers: A thin steel and thicker plastic scraper, a plastic scraper to clean out the groove, a steel paint scraper with a handle
  • Corks
  • Wax remover: Vauhti, Toko, Swix
  • Fiberlene cloth /or synthetic rags for cleaning ski bases
  • Something to support the ski while waxing ski

Wax

  • Hard grip wax: A range of waxes from one manufacturer (Rode, Swix, Toko, Vauhti). For temperature of +1 to –20 will require about 5 waxes.
  • Klister grip wax: Universal klister

Grip Wax Application  

Note - Grip wax is never applied to a skating ski.

1)     Know where the wax pocket is on the skis

  • This can be determined by knowing the weight of the skier and bringing the skis to a ski store to have them tested
  • The wax pocket is the portion of the ski that does not come in contact with the snow when half of a skiers weight is put on the skis (as in gliding with two feet on the skis).
  • When approximately 70% of the skiers weight is placed on the ski the wax pocket should be completely flattened
  • A good wax pocket for a child is one that extends from approximately 20 cm in front of the toes to the heel of the foot.

2)     Remove the existing grip wax

  • Use a steel scraper (or a steel paint scraper) to remove most of the grip wax and fibrelene and wax remover to get the last bits off of the base (and sometimes the sides and top of the ski!).
  • Let the wax remover evaporate before putting the fresh grip wax on.
  • You can roughen the base in the wax pocket with 100 grit sand paper before applying grip wax to improve adhesion (durability)

3)     Select the wax of the day

  • Again this is based on the snow temperature
  • Better to err on the side of a wax that is too cold than one that will possibly be too warm
  • Colder wax is easily covered whereas warmer wax not always easily covered
  • Fresh snow has larger crystals and will require slightly softer (warmer) wax than older snow given similar temperatures.
  • The information on the wax canister should be helpful.

4)     Apply and cork in the wax

  • Generally it is better to apply multiple thin layers than one thick layer.
  • Crayon a thin layer then rub the wax with the cork until it is smooth and evenly applied. You need to generate friction with the cork. Push down and rub vigorously (its easier to apply wax when the ski is warm). 
  • There is generally no need for more than three thin layer..
  • For a long outing (such as the Canadian Ski Marathon) or for icy conditions a base binder wax should be applied before the wax of the day.
  • Base binders are very durable and sticky wax that greatly increase the longevity of the grip wax that is applied on top. They are usually rubbed on, then heated with an iron and covered with layers of grip wax after it has cooled.
  • For warm and/or icy conditions the best solution may be klister. Klister is squeezed on to the base like toothpaste. It can be smoothed with a scraper or with a thumb (it may need to be heated with a torch first if it is being applied in cold temperatures). It is generally applied in a shorter thicker layer than regular grip waxes. If it provides too much grip regular hard waxes can be applied on top. Klister should be removed from the ski as soon as possible after skiing as it sticks to everything and can make a mess of ski bags, clothing etc.

5)     Test the wax
·         Kids need to ski at least five minutes (and ten minutes is better) in the tracks with a wax before they inevitably tell you that they need more grip.
·         You can increase grip by going to a warmer wax, lengthening the portion of the ski where the grip wax is applied (further towards the tip) or putting a thicker layer of wax on.
·         Lengthening the layer of grip wax is a solution as long as you can do this without extending into the glide zone. If you already have put grip wax on the whole wax pocket and they are still not getting enough grip then it is time to go to a warmer wax. Putting a thicker layer is the last choice and the least effective solution.

Classic Waxing Tips

  • Ski ability (technical skill), ski stiffness (in relation to the child’s weight) and confidence are the three variables that can affect how a wax works for a skier.
  • This means that a wax that will work well for one child will not be grippy enough for another.
  • Kids should learn to select and apply their own grip wax by the time they are twelve years old.
  • When re-applying new wax while out on the trail. Rub the base with a cork to heat the base and remove some of the moisture before applying the new wax. This will make it easier to apply

Skating Waxing Tips

  • Skating skis need to be glide waxed on a regular basis.

Applying Glide Wax

Note - It is recommended that you get your skis glide waxed at a store when you purchase them.

Glide wax can be applied to both classic and skating skis. 

  • Glide wax should be applied before applying the grip wax.  Glide waxing should be done in a well-ventilated area, the smoke from an over-heated iron and the dust from scraping the skis are harmful.  A good waxing iron will reduce smoking.  A gas mask or dust mask will filter out the particles from scraping. 
  • You will need a ski form or ski clamps to hold the ski in place, such as in Viking the waxing room.
  • Clean the base of the ski.
  • If you have been skiing on dirty snow (eg. in the spring), wipe the length of the ski with a shop towel moistened with wax remover.  If you are glide waxing classic or combi skis, make sure all the grip wax has been removed from the grip zone.  Let the wax remover fully evaporate before waxing the ski.
  • Choose the appropriate glide wax for the temperature.
  • Again, temperatures listed on the wax refer to the snow temperature. So long as the air temperature is withing a few degrees of the wax temperature you should be fine.
  • You do not need to apply new glide wax before every ski.  The temperature ranges are pretty broad, so unless there is a sudden change in temperature you should be fine with the same glide wax for several ski outings.
  • Set the iron to the appropriate temperature.
  • The wax needs to melt, but should not smoke.
  • Drip the wax onto the base by holding the wax to the iron just above the base, but not touching it.  Alternatively, you can crayon the wax onto the base (like grip wax).  You will probably have to warm the wax on an iron to do this.
  • Skate skis: drip wax along the entire length of the base.
  • Classi skis: drip wax from the tip of the ski to the front end of the grip zone and then from the back end of the grip zone to the end (tail) of the ski.  There should be no glide wax in the grip zone.
  • You do not need a whole lot of wax, as most will be scraped off in the end.
  • Iron the wax into the base.
  • Keep the iron moving.
  • Iron just until the wax has melted into the base.
  • A cold temperature wax will require a higher temperature to melt.
  • Let the skis cool.
  • Scrape off the wax using a thick plastic scraper.
  • Hold the scraper nearly perpendicular to the ski base.
  • Use long, smooth strokes with the scraper going from tip to tail.
  • Apply an even pressure.
  • You should be seeing curls of white (or slightly coloured) wax coming off the base of the ski as you scrape.  You do not want to see black scrapings; if you do stop becasue you are removing the base of the ski.
  • Use a rounded groove scraper to remove wax from the groove down the middle of the ski.
  • You are done scraping when you no longer see the wax on the base of the ski.  With a warm wax this may mean scraping 2-4 times, but with a cold wax you may need to scrape the length of the ski more time (ex. 6-9 times).
  • Brush the skis.
  • Use a ski brush to remove the last little bits of glide wax from the base.
  • After brushing the base of your ski should be shiny and have the texture of the ski base.