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The World's Premiere Nordic Skiing Publication Volume 21, Issues 1

Kick and Glide
Advanced Kick Waxing

Unlike glide waxing, kick waxing must be done to suit a particular skierís ability and needs. Many skiers just want kick and donít really care about glide. For those skiers who want good, durable grip as well as fast gliding skis, read on. The first step in achieving a good kick-glide relationship is choosing the proper ski. The stronger and more technically proficient a skier is, the stiffer the ski can be. A stiffer ski allows the kick wax to stay off the snow during the glide phase, dramatically increasing the speed of the ski. Wax will also not wear off as quickly on a stiffer ski as contact with the snow during the gliding phase is minimized.

Prior to applying kick wax, prepare the gliding surfaces of the ski. Only after the glide waxing job has been completed Ė scraped, brushed and polished Ė do you want to address the kick zone. In kick waxing, the first step is to sand the wax pocket with 180-grit sandpaper. The purpose of sanding the base is to increase the durability of the wax. For more durability in aggressive klister conditions use 100-grit sandpaper. A sanding block should be used, otherwise the base may become rounded resulting in less contact between the base (and kick wax) and the snow. There are many techniques to sanding. My preferred method is to simply sand perpendicular to the travel direction of the ski. Donít be concerned about the ski dragging, for after the ski has been waxed this texture can not be seen.

Once the base has been sanded, a binder or base wax should be applied. The binder needs to be crayoned on and ironed in. After ironing in the base wax I recommend using a synthetic cork to smooth the molten wax and evenly distributed it along the kick zone. The cork should be used on its edge and pressure applied gingerly so that the wax is smoothed, not corked like you would a kick wax. After the binder has cooled, two to three layers of the wax of the day can be applied. Cork between each layer. If you find you are slipping, a thicker layer of wax should be applied. If that does not work, then a softer wax (for warmer conditions) should be applied.

When applying klister, the principles are the same except a base klister should be substituted for the binder. The base klister only needs to be covered with one layer of the klister of the day. The thumb and palm are great implements for smoothing and distributing klister over the kick zone of the ski. Note that when using klister the kick zone can be shortened by one to two inches.

In changing conditions waxes will need to be layered. The underlying layer (over the binder) should be a wax for the conditions expected later in the day. The top layer should be the wax for the existing conditions. For example, if the morning temperature is very cold, but you know it will warm up considerably over the new few hours, you could apply a couple layers of blue kick wax and then cover it with a layer of red. This may contradict old conventions of never applying a soft wax over a harder wax, but for changing conditions this works best.

In very loose snow, it is usually more difficult to get good kick. This is because the snow gets "kicked through" or shears under the ski. The challenge is to get the snow crystals to stick into the base. For this reason it is best to wax in multiple layers. It is also effective to wax with a softer wax and cover it with the wax of the day so there is a cushion effect and the snow crystals stick in the wax easier.

Multiple conditions can present tough challenges. Often the only solution is to mix a klister with a hard wax or cover the klister with a hard wax. Choose a klister appropriate for the conditions and the corresponding hard wax. For example, if the trail base is icy and there is one inch of new snow, the solution would be to wax with a blue or violet klister for the ice and cover it with the appropriate hard wax for the powder conditions. Universal klister is also very versatile and works well in a wide range of conditions.

When removing klister or hard wax, a klister or multipurpose scraper can be used to remove most of the wax. Then, a gel or citrus wax remover can be used to clean the remaining klister off the base.

When you nail the kick wax you will almost certainly have a great ski. If you blow it, you will, at best, have an enjoyable day in the outdoors, or perhaps a good double pole workout.

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