Gripping Stuff….Tape “wax”

Once again we get a season of really variable conditions, tending on the hard packed base of the groomed tracks. New snowfall onto older, iced tracks. Wet snowfall. Melting. Repisting thesher machines. This makes for frustration amongst sunday day trippers and proffessional xc teams alike, as we have just seen in world champjionships to Falun.

Two problems arise in such thaw-back, freeze, wet new snow conditions. Firstly you just choose the wrong type of kick and glide waxing, or conditions change. This is what happened to the norwegian ski team in Falun this week. It started snowing, onto a transformed, crystaline  base at quite mild air temps. The USA womens team could ski the race of their lives to get both silver and bronze! Secondly the issue is that the wax wears off too quickly.

For the rank amateur, tour skier glide wax is not so important, but plastering on the wrong kick wax for the day can make for either a frustrating, slippy kick or a clumping of snow and reduction of glide from the skis. Most often what I hear in the forrest carpark is the decision to use a “red” or easter wax in conditions which are clearly klister!  People want to survive on white waxes, because clister is messy and really needs to be placed on a ‘base binder’ or at least a nice, hard first coat of green wax. Klister will not sit well on purple  wax and is outright messy and mobile on top of red. But it can be laid onto a quickly scraped off, bare ski to get yourself a five mile tour in for the day.

What solution ?
With an early thaw from runs in the lower lying areas i decided against the expensive solution to waxing. The new, flush fitted integrated kick zone skins. Next year?

This year, the frugal option presented itself. I wandered into a Class Ohlsson store and saw they had, being scandinavia, a little wax and gear section. This just also happened to have a sale on, and i saw Start kick tape there. I had heard of it before, and other companies had tried tape products which are no longer on the market. Here it was though, the survivor. The scotch-tape style package, in fact the whole concept is very 3M baring it being a large enough market for them to bother with.

The start product is rolled on a bare ski, sandpapered and cleaned , and comes with a backing paper like double sided tape.  The backing paper makes the whole thing way less messy than klister or even red wax. You thumb the wax in hard in the middle and then on the edges, through the paper. You can even leave the paper on until you reach the trails, and put it back on for the tour home.

Consistency wise it feels a bit clister like, but with the tackyness and viscosity more like “red” wax. It should be applied to a shorter kickzone, and i recommend this also being short at the heel.  5cm shorter on a typical 60cm marked kick wax zone.

I arrived at Kleivvann to new, wet snow on a hard base, churned by the piste machine at least once. Aggressive crystals. I took the prudent move of letting my skis cool down on snow.

First little kicking hill and I flew up it with good grip, but without that new clister snagging feel. Glide was terrific in the tracks, but a little unpredictable on the mid skating lane.

It survived 10km on varied hard, crusty, soft slushy and outright ice. Infact it looked like it had just rubbed in a bit more. However it had gone a bit mobile behind the heel, so thus i recommend about 4cm short of the heel in abrasive condtions.

It felt just like gettijng a good lillac wax job for -1 or a floruo blue for colder conditions.

Verdict? 9 out of ten. Yes some kicks were slipping, and fthere was some crystal build up. But this was better than universal clister in both cases considering the conditions.