October 10, 2009 -- It's not too late to get started on strength training for the 2009 season -- but you better start soon. Take a look at one training plan, and many suggested exercises, to help you have your best season yet.
Other Training Ideas
Plan now to do your best -- whether you race, ski for exercise, or ski recreationally. Read some training tips from past issues of Cross Country Skier.
Don't miss a single issue of Cross Country Skier this season. Four great issues for one low price. Read about racing, destinations, training, and a variety of columns for both the recreational and competitive skier.
Every season, equipment manufacturers roll out their latest and greatest new gear, usually first unveiling it at the Snowsports Industries Association show in January. Cross Country Skier annually brings you a preview of the newest line-up of skis, boots, poles, waxes and accessories. We have the scoop on new developments in design and technology – in bases, flexes, cores, foot lasts, binding interfaces, materials and cosmetics. So if you are a techo-weenie gear geek, this is the article for you.
This year we take a new approach. Rather than rehash stats and technical data ad nauseum, this year we’ve selected a couple representative or stand-out pieces of gear from each manufacturer and take a brief look at each.
The new Alpina SR30 (left) could be used as a combi. The Elite Carbon Skate (right) features a thinner sole.
Best known for its boot lines, Alpina offers up a reinvention of its industry-first titanium carbon composite boot. The Elite Carbon Skate has a three-dimensional titanium two-piece asymmetrical carbon cuff. New assembly techniques and stronger plastics have allowed Alpina to make the sole much thinner, reducing weight and putting the foot that much closer to the ski.
The boot’s inside resembles a soccer cleat or running shoe and uses a combination of laces and textile hooks. This lacing system offers greater flexibility in custom-fitting the boot to one’s foot; you can skip various lace points if your foot has pressure points or comfort issues. The new zipper cover is more flexible to make it easier to zip.
On the whole the new race boots are as much as 8-18 percent lighter depending on the model. But a boot that light comes with a trade-off in warmth. At the high end, racers may need an overboot for particularly cold days. Working down into the next tiers, the boots have more insulation.
The new SR 30 in the Sport Performance line has a classic flexing sole, but also has a three-dimensional plastic cuff making it a good combi boot. While it is a little stiffer, it has added padding, making it a warm, comfortable boot.
The BC boot line retains most models with minor cosmetic upgrades. Most come with the Alpitx membrane, a waterproof membrane for the area of the boot that sees repetitive flexing and use. The membrane allows perspiration to escape, but keeps water out, resulting in improved warmth.
Last year Alpina Sports began distributing Peltonen skis. This year most Peltonen skis will come pre-mounted with an NIS binding plate.
Ever get down the trail a couple of kilometers and find your boot not quite as snug as when you first laced up? Or in that marathon race, when you’re tired and technique is getting sloppy, do you wish you could stop and regain that comfortable close fit you felt at the start line? It’s a pain to stop and remove your gloves, unzip the lace cover and reef on the lacing system, and certainly no one is going to take the time to do this in the middle of a race. Atomic may have the answer to this dilemma with its BOA lacing system.
The Atomic World Cup (WC) boots come in black (left), which features the WC race last, and red, with the new Salomon S-Lab last.
Introduced last year at the top-of-the-line, as the BOA Skate and BOA Classic, in 2009 the BOA trickles down to the mid-price-point tier touring-level boot, the BOA XCruise and the women’s counterpart, the BOA XCruise W.
The technology involves replacing the lacing system with lightweight cables that wrap the foot. For 2009, the cables have been lengthened to allow more options in tightening and the ratchet has been beefed up. The cables are tightened, or loosened, with a low-profile dial on the rear of the boot. The mechanism is easy to use and can even be operated with a gloved hand. A quick pull on the dial releases the tension and returns the cables to their original position.
The Atomic X-Cruise boots include a women's version (right) with a graphic designed by Olympic gold medalist Claudia Nystad.
Other boot developments include a change in the WC designations to WC Red and WC Black. The Red utilizes Salomon’s S-Lab last and the Black the former WC Race last, a slightly wider platform. A new flared strap cover on the skate boot protects the skier’s ankle. Atomic’s Aina Women’s boot takes on a stylish graphic designed by Olympic gold medalist Claudia Nystad.
The 2009 Fischer line includes the Hole (top), the classic RCS (middle)
and the Silent Spyder (bottom).
Fischer’s RCS Carbon Light Nordic “Hole” ski stands alone in its unusual approach to pushing the envelope of ski design. With an actual hole in the tip of the ski, the “Hole” is five grams lighter than a ski of comparable size and construction. The hole is intended to save racers yet more weight over Fischer’s Carbon Light RCS race ski and reduce swing weight for faster turnover. Whether it is, in fact, that much faster remains to be seen, as does its durability. The Hole is available only in a skate version and becomes Fischer’s top-of-the-line offering. It carries a hefty price tag of $649 MSRP.
The Silent Spyder is more on the mainstream side of the business. Fischer touts the ski’s versatility – it is narrow enough that it can be used in a track but also performs well on a less-groomed surface such as a snowmobile trail or state park system. The edges in the kick zone are built on a ceramic insert and the company says the waxless base provides maximum grip on its narrower platform.
The Guide has become Karhu's flagship ski for backcountry enthusiasts.
Karhu is taking a conservative approach this year, backing away from high-performance and race lines to concentrate on its backcountry and off-trail offerings. The company will not roll-out entire new lines and graphics so that dealers don’t need to restock with more colors and flexes. Karhu has more than 15 different skis to choose from in five different categories: Mountain, Freeride, Women’s, XCD Backcountry and Widetrack Touring.
The XCD Guide has become a flagship ski for the brand due to its versatility and range and is a first choice for those venturing into the backcountry or just beating the bushes in the local woods.
For all its innovative features and high-quality products, pole-maker Leki doesn’t get the play it perhaps deserves in the U.S. The German company offers as many options as any of the other top brands, but with a couple notable exceptions, haven’t achieved widespread use.
Leki’s “click and go” quick releasing Shark grip has perpetuated throughout the race category and has moved into touring poles as well. It is one of the simplest technologies among removable strap devices, making it popular among biathletes. Another innovative approach is Leki’s adjustable basket. Available in 2-in-1 and 4-in-1 versions, this simple insert fits into Leki’s touring or race baskets and changes the “footprint” of the basket, giving it more surface area for different snow conditions. It, too, is a quick change device.
One of the hot new products from Madshus is the Nano Carbon Race 100 UHM pole. While retaining a noticeably lighter swing weight, a new design with an extended shaft body increases strength and stiffness up to 20 percent over previous comparable designs. The 100 UHM comes with Madshus’ angled full cork power handle and contoured race strap that conforms to the skier’s hand. This strap is featured on other Madshus poles, as well.
Both the classic (left) and skate upper-end boots from Madshus feature a waterproof and breathable technology.
Madshus upper-tier boots now feature MemBrain, a new waterproof and breathable technology that helps wick moisture away and allows the foot to remain comfortable for a longer period of time. Because the fabric has natural flexibility, the boot conforms better to the foot. Madshus’ Peter Hale points out other tangible benefits of the breathable construction.
“With all the attention paid to the weight of boots and various ski components, one thing that’s not often mentioned is the on-snow weight of a boot that has absorbed perspiration. With a boot that is more breathable, that’s not as much of a factor, as the skier’s sweat passes through and evaporates.”
He points out, too, that this helps keep the skier’s foot warmer when skiing in traditionally colder areas. “It’s not so much about insulation, but breathability.”
The Nanosonic Zero is Madshus entry to the zero-base category, which is purported to have a wider range than just around the zero degrees (C). This is due to a combination rubber, cork and other compounds in the base.
Hale likens the base to the creation of hairies on a black base.
“When you made hairies, they lasted only so long. Because the black base material is brittle when abraded, hairies will break or wear off over time. When this base is roughed up, it stays consistent over a much longer distance.”
While the ski can be skied right out of the box because it come pre-sanded from the factory, it can work into much colder temps and into the corn snow range. The range can be expanded by sanding, not unlike a wax job, with coarser grit under the foot and tapered to the end of the kick zone. The camber on the ski is a little stiffer than a traditional hard-wax ski – somewhere between a dry snow and klister ski. Hale says that, in the conditions for which the ski is intended, it will glide as well as a regular base. The base is not limited to the high-end ski, but is also available on Madshus’ popular mid-price Birkebeiner and Terrasonic skis.
The new Introsonic skate (top) and classic (bottom) race skies
are designed for exercise and fitness skiers.
Madshus also introduces a new race ski, the Intrasonic, in skate, classic and waxless. It is designed for the exercise skier, young racer or fitness skier. It has a standard topsheet and full-torsion box body, but uses an air-channeled wood core (versus the foam core in the upper-tier skis). The graphics compliment a comparable boot line.
Rossignol’s top-end NIS 1 and 2 remain the same for 2009, but the company has introduced a new ski, the WCS (World Cup Series). It comes in the three most popular sizes only – 181, 187 and 193 cm. Differences in this ski include a change in the thickness of the layer inside the ski and an extended carbon plate through to the end of the ski, but with some material removed toward the tip. This ski is about 25 grams lighter for better swing weight. Internal changes result in a softer flex toward the tip, making it good for softer snow. This line sees more base prep at the factory and comes with a very fine, linear grind. At the top of the line, this ski will retail around $599.
Deeper in the line, the Delta, Max and Zynex models all take on new cosmetics.
The Classic X-ium C2 Rubber was introduced last fall as Rossi’s entry to the zero degree (C) ski segment. The rubberized kick zone can be waxed to shorten the kick zone, or sanded to lengthen the kick zone. It is designed to perform well around zero (C) in moist, new snow, plus or minus a few degrees, depending on humidity.
The new X7 (left) has no lace cover, the X5 (center) has a new heel counter, and the X1 (right) is the CompJ (right) is a new junior combi boot.
There are not a lot of changes in Rossignol boots. In the touring line, the former X3 is gone, replaced by the X5 with a new heel counter and lace cover. The BC X9 replaces the former X7, with a new X7 introduced with an upper cuff, but no lace cover. There are a couple of new junior boots also, the Comp J and X1 J.
The Salomon S-Lab Classic (left) and
S-Lab Skate Pro are pictured above.
The S-Lab Vitane Skate is on the left and the S-Lab Skate on the right.
Salomon rolls out a color change for 2009, with a predominantly white palette on its race-level boots. There are technological changes, as well, with the introduction of the S-Lab Skate Pro. This top-of-the-line skate boot sees a shift in the pivot point, moving it 17 mm from the front of the foot. This, coupled with new buttressing wings, help stiffen the sole to transfer more power into the binding. The boot also uses a new carbon cradle underfoot, married to a new ratchet strap system running over the foot, for improved fit. There is no classic version of this boot. Some of the innovations extend to other boots, as well.
An improved FC8X is Swix’s biggest news for 2009. This top-of-the-line flouro covers a range of -4C to +4C and is available in solid and powder form as well as liquid and spray.
The new Swix Zero wax (left) is a fluro carbon spray. The company's blue base wax (right) has been reforumlated.
The new BGO30 Blue Base Wax has a more durable formula that can be used as the first layer for all hard waxes and specifically for new and fine-grained snow.
Zero base skis have become more popular for those tricky 32F temperatures. The Swix Zero is a new 100 percent flurocarbon spray that helps avoid icing when skiing in fresh, moist snow around 32F.
The high-end iron (left) has a microprocessor for temperature control. The structure tool (right) will replace the traditional rills and tools.
Structure tools have undergone a complete makeover and will eventually replace the rills and tools that have been in the Swix line for 20 years. The new tools don’t cut the base like an older rill; all impress the pattern into the base. The new structure tools include an economy level tool with an interchangeable brass roller, a compact double-steel roller that imparts a cross structure, and a World Cup tool that comes with four steel rollers capable of creating a variety of patterns.
Finally, Swix rolls out a new top-of-the-line waxing iron. It has a heavy thick steel plate and higher wattage. Temperature control is regulated by a microprocessor and set by LED buttons. It comes with a hefty price tag, too, close to $400.
Toko has completely redone its Express Line with new graphics and a new formula that shines ski bases better, dries faster and contains no fluorine or benzene (better for the environment). It can be used down to -30C and is reportedly noticeably faster.
Toko's new Structurite tools have three bits for varying conditions.
Toko wax removers, both GelClean and HC3, are also based on a new formula for 2009 with new packaging and a new design.
On the tools side, Toko’s Structurite Nordic is completely new. It comes with a red bit for conditions around freezing, blue bit for cold conditions and yellow bit for warm.
In Toko’s Nordic apparel, the Speed Tight, a cold weather tight with insulated gussets and an antislip waistband, replaces the Genesis Tight. It is made of stretch lycra with brushed fleece insulation. The new Speed Midlayer replaces the Genesis Midlayer, a form-fitted midlayer with zippered microfleece collar. There are also new colors on Speed, Swift, Nordic and Nanna jackets; as well as on the Nordic race suit.
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