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

Kick and Glide
Here’s The Kicker...

There is a critical difference between kick waxing and glide waxing.

When gliding, the best wax is the same for any skier. When you need a kick wax, the best wax depends on the abilities and desires of the skier. Kick wax needs to be applied for the specific individual.

Ideally, when the skier is gliding, the kick wax is not touching the snow and creating drag. During the kick phase of a stride, the wax pocket should be fully depressed so snow crystals embed themselves in the kick wax and allow for kick.

That's the goal. Getting to it depends on the skis having an appropriate camber for the skier's weight and on the skier having enough technique and being fit enough to get the wax pocket down.

A strong classic skier usually can wax with a harder wax, over a shorter length of ski, and apply a thinner coat of wax than a weaker skier. The strong skier still will get better kick – because of conditioning and technique – and so glide faster.

Someone who doesn't have the ability to fully depress an appropriately cambered ski, usually will either ski with softer skis or use a thicker application of softer wax over more of the ski. That leads to slower gliding, and the kick wax won't last as long, because it will drag during the glide phase. Thus, the best way to make a skier's kick waxing more effective is to improve the skier's ability.

A good way to evaluate the length and placement of a wax pocket is to wax the ski long and go for a long distance ski. If the snow is somewhat abrasive, then what is left on the ski will probably show you the true wax pocket. During such a test, the skier should avoid snowplowing and sliding on turns. If there is only a minimal amount of wax left, then the skis are too soft, and performance is weakened.

A skier who is slipping often waxes a longer portion of the ski. That's a mistake. If the wax pocket has been waxed and the skier is slipping, waxing longer means the skier will be effectively "kicking" only on the short section of base. Most likely, if that section was not waxed originally, then it is not part of the wax pocket. And that means that the new wax will wear off quickly and the skis will start to slip again.

Kick waxing John Bauer’s skis is a relatively easy and rewarding task.

Waxing longer also makes skis slower. The drag one feels is the additional wax being scraped off the ski base by the snow during the glide.

Another common mistake is to wax too warm. Skiers often wax "conservatively," jumping up two full colors (two waxes softer) than conditions call for. They do it because they want good kick. That's understandable, but it doesn't take into account the softness of the wax compared to the snow. The snow will rip the relatively soft wax off the ski leaving no kick at all. A skier who wants to use extra warm wax should carry wax, knowing that rewaxing will be necessary. Extra warm wax also invites icing of the kick wax, which leads to slow skis with no kick.

The best choice when slipping is to try a thicker application of wax without lengthening it. If the wax still slips, then the wax is not soft enough and a softer wax should be applied within the kick zone, or even a shorter length of ski if you're covering the existing wax. Staying within the kick zone with the softer wax will help prevent drag and icing.

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