Volume 17 Issue 37: Jan 14, 2016
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Cold Waxing, Black Stuff, and Uneven Bases
Dear Andy:
After gritting our teeth and skiing 25k in -5 temperatures with a good dose of a NW wind, I met with a fellow citizen skier afterward to indulge in a tasty microbrew and talk skiing. We got into waxing for cold weather (go figure) and we had some questions that we would like an expert opinion to weigh in.
We both discussed using very hard, brittle waxes (START Green) and getting the base hard. Our skis both ran fairly well on green training wax given the temperatures and wind blown snow. When scraping the green wax after allowing the wax to cool completely, we both noted that we sometimes pull up a little "blackish grey stuff." Not a lot, but enough to notice. What's possibly happening here? Is this fairly normal with very cold wax? Can this be attributed to an uneven ski base or scraping "into" the ski?
The second part of our discussion was identifying uneven bases and when to stonegrind in the presence of an uneven ski base. First, what causes uneven bases (even after stonegrinding)? Second, is there anything skiers can do to minimize uneveness? And third, what is the best way to tell if your bases are uneven and should be stonegrinded? We both thought if we are scraping a lot, perhaps have a little discoloration (shiny areas), or pulling up black stuff that our bases are uneven. But where we disagreed is that one of us said a little unevenness is okay, just a pain to scrape (and be careful) while the other said we need to get them to the stonegrinder right away to flatten out. Any recommendations or thoughts? 
As always, many thanks!

The black stuff you are scraping off the ski is most likely a bit of base (and some dirt). When you apply a really hard extra cold wax like Start Greens SG10, LF10, MF10 HF10, these waxes will harden to any base material that is sticking up (base peach fuzz) and this bond may exceed the bond between the base hairs and the base itself so you will scrape them off.  Which is a good thing. But when you apply the cold waxes you risk slightly melting any hairy base material onto the base as well and closing/sealing the base which is a bad thing. So it is better to remove this material every time before you wax at any temp. So first raise the hairs and remove any dirt with the Start Copper 5023 or Start Fine Steel 5024 brush. Then with a really sharp metal scraper (Start # 5009) you can shave off the peach fuzz base material before you wax like you would shave your beard. Just run the sharp scraper along the ski tip to tail with little pressure. You can also use coarse, then medium, then fine fibertex. You should do this every time you race wax and not just before cold waxes. You will have a clean base with fewer base hairs and more open base material ready to accept the (Start) waxes of the day.
Regarding uneven bases. Uneven bases generally develop from excessive heat being applied to the ski. When too much heat is applied by an iron, hot box, car heater, or summer storage... the different ski materials expand at different rates. And when they cool again the ski or base has a slightly new shape. You can usually see the edges are higher or lower than the interior. Sometimes you can see a honeycomb core pattern in the base etc.  None of this is good. A flat base is necessary to get great glide in cold new dry snow. An irregular base may still preform in certain wet conditions as its irregularities may break the suction between the water and the ski. But its performance will not be predictable. Its performance will be as irregular as the base.

Pole length?

Hi Andy, I'd love your thoughts on something. Traditionally we size poles based on total pole length , like pole to top of shoulder. I've been offering to folks that we actually shouldn't be referencing the top of the pole but where the strap comes out of the grip. What's your thought?


Yes in the best of all possible worlds poles would measured the effective length of a pole and we would reference the top of pole strap for this measurement and fitting. But then we would also need a full analysis if the skier that we are fitting to as well. ( see below) But we use the top of pole standard for all and it works just fine for 95% of people as it is just the way we measure. The pole fit chart on each set of Start poles is what I use as my reference User height * .9 for skate and * .83 for classic. I see more people with skate poles that look to long than to short.  

Hi Andy,
I've asked this very question several times to "experts" in ski equipment fitting and can appreciate the range of answers described by George below. Not knowing myself the rational for the pole manufacturer's recommendations, it seems to me that pole length would depend upon...
1. Body height.
2. Arm length.
3. Fitness.
4. Proficiency of poling skill / technique.
5. Purpose of skiing (i.e., recreational vs racing; trying to be as efficient as possible vs generating as much power as possible).
6. Terrain - Predominantly flat, rolling, etc.
For any one person, there is probably a small range of pole lengths (within 2 cms) that will fit virtually all conditions adequately. The exception, of course, may be that very high level skier who can actually take advantage of subtle pole length differences.
I think that it may be very reasonable to suggest that, for some skiers, the length of classic and skate poles may be very similar depending upon how those 6 factors mentioned above actually interact. Of course, that also means that some people will actually benefit from different pole lengths because of how those 6 factors interact.  It seems too simple to suggest that one pole length formula is going to work for all people under all circumstances.
From a research perspective, I don't believe that there is one shred of evidence to suggest that any ski poles should be any particular length. However, given someone who is just starting out skiing, using a standard formula (such as those provided by the manufacturers) is probably viewed as a good place to start, but fully realizing that this determination may not be the end as factors like skill, fitness, and purpose of skiing evolve.
Not sure if that helps or not!
Dan Heil
MSU Professor and Program Leader Health and Human Performance

Teton Ridge Wax

I just wanted to let you know that I had awesome skis at the TR classic event. (I was first woman overall) It was snowing and 22 F during the race.

On my skis I used  the Start HF 8 blue glider and FHF 80 kick over Synthetic blue kick. Many people complained of icing and / or slipping during the race.  My skis were perfect for the entire 26km race plus a 5 km warm down.  (Terva blue was  kicking fine but not as fast) 

The BLIZ proflips made my day too! They helped me to see and ski with confidence on the fst downhills and did not fog on the long gradual up hills.  

Betsy Youngman
Fluorinated Kick Waxes

Why are there Fluorinated kick waxes? I understand that Fluorocarbons in gliders help the ski glide faster in wet snow. But what does it do for kick waxes except cost us more?


Dear OP,

Fluorocarbons are hydrophobic which means that they repel water. As a ski glides down the track in most every condition a water layer develops between the base and the snow. This layer can be very very thin in low humidity dry snow conditions and very think in high humidity and wet snow conditions. When the kick wax reaches this water layer it acts like a dam and resists rolling over it so the ski looses glide and also the water layer continues so the kick wax contacts the water layer and not the snow crystals so kick is diminished The Fluorocarbons in kick waxes like Start RF line repel and break that water layer so the kick wax can contact the snow crystals so you can get better kick they also break the water wax log jam so you get better glide.  We seldom have a classic race now where we do not apply a thin layer of Start's FHF highlyfluorinated cover waxes on as a final layer to shed that water layer for both better kick and better glide.  
Start Wax Recs?

Start Wax Recs can be found at 

This week we feature many races including:

Seeley Classic, Birkie Trails WI 
Start's Dusty Olson will be at Race Start with Kick wax help

Town Ranch Classic, Crestid Butte CO



Also check out the Wax Genius Chooser at  

If you have Start Wax Rec needs email

Andy at SkiPost/Start

Which side to pole?

Dear SkiPost,

I wrote to you a few years ago on how often to use V-2 in races and practice because I thought was doing mostly V-1 when I skied.  You were correct in surmising that I was doing more V-2 alternate than I realized, and you encouraged me to practice V-2.  I now often do one session of roller skiing a week of an hour of just V-2 and have gotten comfortable (though not highly efficient) at frequently using it on the snow as well.

My question now is a basic one, but I've gotten a lot of conflicting advice regarding it from very good cross country skiers.  Which side should a person be poling on in a turn?  For example, turning right should the poling be on the right side or the left?  Also, when on a trail that cants to one side, should the poling action be on the downhill or uphill side?  Thanks in advance for answering what should be a basic question, but is perplexing to me.   



The second question you asked is the easier, and I will answer it first.  When skiing on a canted hill, pole on the uphill side.  Always.  Help yourself climb the hill, and let gravity aid you on the downstroke.  This is why we encourage people to learn to ski with left and right leads, so that while skiing on a slanted hill, you can change leads to your benefit.  Again, you need more help climbing, and should use poles on the uphill side. 
As for going around a corner, this depends on your quickness, and on the sharpness of the corner, and on your technique.  In general, for V2 or V2 alternate, I would tell you to pole on the inside step. So if you are turning right, pole on the right.  However, there are times when if you are quick, and the corner is not too sharp, it is beneficial to pole on every step. NEVER pole on your outside step only.
Things change for V1.  While doing V1 around a corner, have your "high" side to the outside.  An uphill turn will invariably lead to an angled track, and just like we mentioned before, you want to be poling on the uphill side. So for a right hand turn, have your left hand "high."

I recommend you try different techniques and lead sides for yourself. See if you can feel a difference.  It might be that you are so much stronger on one side that my input is moot.  Until you develop proficiency left and right handed, the gain is minimal.
Have a wonderful winter,
Michael Sinnott

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National Nordic Foundation Allocates $154,280 to
2015 - 2016 Pillar Projects    read more here

Start is the low swing weight and high durability 
pole choice of  CXC

This Bliz 
 Bliz for winter are now in stores.

 Check out  the This Bliz video from Bliz World Cup stars including Charlotte Kalla, Marcus Hellner, and Robin Bryntesson. 
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Andy at SkiPost/Bliz
Salomon Nordic

  Check out a Peter Schlickenrieder Ski Camp!



Gear West's Wax-A-Palooza

Thursday Feb 4th 8-9pm

With Start Wax Genius Dusty Olson


PSIA Academy

Big news, the PSIA nordic team, composed of Megan Spurkland of Homer Women's Nordic fame & renown XC author, Scotty McGee, 3 term PSIA nordic team member and 2 term nordic team coach and me (David Lawrence) are hosting a cross country specific, 3 day clinic for PSIA members from around the country.
Details below...
PSIA Cross Country Academy 2016
February 2-4, 2016
Day 1 @ Copper Mountain (in conjunction with SIA Nordic Demo)
Day 2 @ Frisco Nordic
Day 3 @ Breckenridge Nordic

Deadline to Register: Jan 2, 2015 (four weeks prior)





 January 29 - February 7, 2016
There's something fun for everyone!
Don't miss out on the $49 all inclusive nine-day Festival Trail Pass.  Includes the entire trail system from Bellevue to Galena Lodge, the Sun Valley Company's Nordic Trails, and the Sawtooth Valley trails. That's over 200 kilometers of cross country and snowshoe trails! Passes can be purchased at Backwoods Mountain Sports and The Elephant's Perch in Ketchum; Galena Lodge and the Sun Valley Nordic Center in Sun Valley.

 for a schedule of events for SVNF week

Saturday, February 6, 2016
Register today at
Check out the new BMT Facebook page

  also for for Sun Valley trails as the best trials in america.

Help Make the Birkie Trail #1!
The American Birkebeiner has been nominated as a contender for
Best Cross-Country Ski Location in USA Today's 
10 Best Readers' Choice travel award contest!
Show your #BirkieFever and vote today (and every day)!

An expert panel of Olympians selected the Birkie Trail
as a contender for Best Cross-Country Ski location!

Here's How You Can Help!
  • Vote once a day between now and February 8!
  • Share on social media!
  • Share with your friends, family, and coworkers!
Questions?  Call 715-634-5025 or email us!


Register before Birkie Tour Increase

January 17, 2015

Top 5 Reasons to Register for the BirkieTour Today!
       5 - Save money!  Register before the January 15 price increase!
4 - Hot food, craft beer, root-beer, warm tent, friends, music and more!
3 - On course aid stations mean you have a supported training day!
2 - Meet & ski with elite Birkie Ambassadors Caitlin and Brian Gregg!
1 - It's just plain fun!  Plus BirkieTour hats for the first 650 participants!
Register before the
January 15 Price Increase!

Last chance to register for the Seeley Hills Classic & BirkeTour combo!

Register here

Tahoe Rim Tour & Race 

Sunday, January 24, 2016 
Tahoe XC - Tahoe City, CA to Northstar XC - Truckee, CA). 

To celebrate the New Year and the new snow, we are offering a special deal on City of Lakes Loppet Ski Festival event registration.

Sign up for your favorite event now through 11:59pm on New Year's Eve and save 10% off your registration.
Simply register online and when prompted for a promotional code, enter:
Looking forward to seeing you on the trails soon and keep thinking snow!
The Loppet Crew!

2016 Great Bear Chase!

Registration is now open for the 36th annual UP Health System Portage Great Bear Chase. The race will take place on Saturday, March 5th, 2016 at the beautiful Swedetown Trails in Calumet, Michigan.

Nordic Job Openings

Nordic Job Opening? email to post

Copper Country Ski Tigers Head Coach Devo Program 
Galena Lodge Nordic Ski Instructor Check out 

Snow Mountain Ranch/YMCA of the Rockies, Granby Nordic Groomer info here
Mt. Bachelor Sports Education Foundation Assistant Nordic Coach
Tahoe Cross Country Head Coach for Junior Development & Competition Team

BNJRT Co-Head Coach and Assistant Coaches About

Agamenticus Ski Club Assistant HS Coach & Assistant MS Coach
Momentum Northwest Assistant Coach  

Mansfield Nordic Club Development Team Leader Position

About SkiPost


Cross-Country skiing's community lodge. Where knowledge and stories are shared. The goal of SkiPost is to make the sport of Cross-Country skiing easier and more enjoyable for all who choose to participate. If you have questions on Cross-Country Skiing email us and visit


Enjoy Winter,

Andrew Gerlach
Director/Editor- SkiPost
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In This Issue

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Support Tomorrow's Nordic Stars Today

Get your Bliz NNF Trackers
NNF at checkout

Bliz Active Logo

This Bliz
This Bliz

25 Medals for Bliz Athletes 

Start Kick Waxes

Start Wax  and Poles Explained


West Yellowstone




ski erg


Jon Engen

Jim Galanes


Start Genius Dealers 


For more Start USA info  



BLIZ America Dealers 



For more BLIZ USA info 





find the time
The one gift you receive at birth is time.  You'll never have more  than you have today.  Find the Time.

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