Thursday, 6 October 2011

Fast Trax Ski Service

The team at Fast Trax carries three main brands, Madshus, Fischer and Salomon with a small sampling of Rossignol and Ski Trab.

Here is brief overview of the brands as outlined by Patrick;

Ski selection is without question the most important factor in ensuring enjoyment on the trails. Whether you are toeing the line at World Cups or enjoying a Sunday at the Strathcona Wilderness Centre, the right pair of skis is the difference between the best afternoon of your life and a miserable experience.

When selecting skis, there are two primary considerations: flex characteristics and overall quality. Skis need to be fit to both the skier and the targeted snow conditions. The flex characteristics include camber strength,  camber height, and pressure distribution. Taken together, these characteristics determine under which conditions a ski is most likely to perform at its best. 

More important than flex characteristics, however, is overall quality. Skis are made mostly by hand using materials that tend to have high levels of variability. The subtle factors that determine the overall quality are the difference between average and world class skis – unfortunately, not all skis are created equal.

Selecting excellent skis requires far more than a simple paper test or calculation based on your weight. Rather, selecting excellent skis demands significant on snow testing to understand the brands and materials. At Fast Trax, we work with local and national team athletes as coaches and technicians. We travel within North American and Europe to meet the technical reps, World Cup service staff, and engineers to better understand the product and refine our methods. We have invested significant resources in ensuring that you have the greatest skiing experience possible

Although all of the skis may be available by special order, those models carried in Fast Trax inventory are marked with a “*”.


Overview – Madshus has been manufacturing cross country skis in Norway since 1908. Visiting the factory is like stepping into a Volkswagon commercial – the environment is bright, clean, and has a high degree of automation. During the past few seasons, Madshus has made considerable changes in the design of their skis and the current product is not comparable to that from even just a few years ago.

Heat Damage – Madshus skis have a reputation in Canada for being susceptible to heat damage. By improving tolerances for the density of the core, Madshus has addressed this problem to a certain extent. However, unlike other brands, the core of the skis is foam and does not absorb heat. Contrary to the popular practice of using extremely low iron temperatures. Madshus skis should be ironed using a temperature that will allow the wax to melt quickly and easily (i.e. hotter than you might think). The wax should be ironed in a single continuous pass (no going back to fix “mistakes”) and the skis allowed to cool before further heat is applied.

The Madshus Skier – Madshus skate skis are made for active skiing. They build speed from stride to stride and are noticeably quick as they are transitioned onto edge. The classic skis have some of the longest wax pockets in the industry and have an exceptionally supple feel.

The Madshus skier will be someone who skis with energy, as distinct from power. Their turnover will be high and they will be quick and light on their feet. If Lance Armstrong was a cross country skier, he would probably do well with Madshus.

Madshus Skate Skis

*116 (regular conditions) – Designed as a ski for universal conditions, this model does not see a lot of action on the World Cup. The resting camber is very high and the finishing stiffness is very soft. This results in an active, lively ski with a smooth feel. This model also features 4mm of sidecut (the others are straight) which provides a very secure feel, even in the most tricky of conditions.  

*118 (universal cold) – Marketed by Madhsus as a hard pack ski, it would be more appropriate to think of this as the universal cold ski. This model has a high resting camber, a medium finishing stiffness, and is by far the most used Madshus skate ski on the World Cup.

119 (universal warm) – It is best to think of this model as the universal warm ski. A low resting camber and a stiff finishing flex, as well as a softer tip, combine for excellent feel in slightly softer conditions. The light front end and focused pressure distribution mean excellent speed as the moisture content of the snow increases. 

Madshus Classic Skis

*102 (universal hardwax) – These hardwax skis have the longest pocket available and a camber that is high at rest, but low under load. This makes for a smooth, active feel that is easy to kick in a moderately forward position. These skis are at their best in colder conditions, but will work well right into red hardwax if picked with enough stiffness.

103 (plus conditions) – With a very different feel from the 102 model, the plus ski has a much lower resting camber that stays high under load. This is very effective in keeping warm hardwaxes and klister up off the snow and allows for excellent free glide. This ski has a short pressure distribution and quite a lot of tip splay, making it excellent it high moisture conditions.


Overview – The most successful brand on the world cup by far, Fischer earned more World Cup points than all other brands combined for the 2011 season. Enough said.

Combinations­ – Fischer utilizes two different molds (shapes) and two different base materials for both skate and classic. Although in many parts of the world technicians prefer the warm base (the 28 base) as the most universal solution, in Canada the cold base (the A5 base) is preferable. Go figure – it’s cold here! That being said, it is possible to find excellent plus skis for cold conditions.

The Fischer Skier – There is a reason that Fischer is the most used brand on the World Cup: the skis are extremely universal and work for a wide range of styles. If you know that you want skis but don’t know what you want, it is safe to say that you will be comfortable on Fischer.

Fischer Skate Skis

*610/611 (universal conditions) – The most universal of Fischer’s skate skis, this model can be picked to handle extreme cold through to slush. A firm finish and low action creates excellent free glide but not a lot of energy response. This is easily the most used skate ski on the World Cup, in all conditions.

*115 (hard conditions) – The high point of the 115 model is further forward than the 610, which creates more tension in the forebody under load. The additional tension creates excellent stability and this ski is at its best in hard, transformed snow.

Fischer Classic Skis

*812  (all conditions) – Fischer’s standby classic ski tends to have a lot of variability and can be found with significantly different stiffness, action, and pocket shape. The combination of these characteristics means that the skis can be picked for anything from cold hardwax through to klister, but each pair must be evaluated individually.

This model tends to have a certain amount of residual camber, which can provide superior running speed in almost all conditions without compromising grip. The shape of the pocket means that the athlete does not have to have a forceful kick to close the skis, but it is really crucial to get the weight forward onto the ball of the foot.

*902 (plus conditions) – Increased camber height, significant residual camber, and considerable tip and tail splay make these skis an excellent choice for warm hardwax and klister conditions. An excellent addition to a fleet with multiple pairs, however this ski is not a good choice as a single pair solution in Edmonton.


Overview -  Made in the same factory as Atomic, and owned by the same company (Amer Sports), Salomon skis have seen exponential improvements in overall quality in the past two or three seasons. The skis are now in the mix at the World Cup  level and the product continues to be refined.

The Salomon Skier – Similar to Fischer, the Salomon product is exceptionally universal and works for a broad range of skiing styles. Both the skate and classic skis tend to be set up a little higher than Fischer and, as a result, feel a little bit more lively.

Salomon Skate Skis

SG (soft conditions) – Designed for glazed or wet new snow, these skis have soft tips combined with a focused pressure distribution. A fairly specific ski designed for specific conditions.

Warm (universal warm) – This model has a short glide surface to reduce suction and improve acceleration. Excellent feeling in higher moisture conditions and an excellent choice as a universal warm ski.

*Cold (universal cold) – This model has a long glide surface to reduce friction in cold, dry conditions. A lively feel combined with excellent stability makes these skis feel slippery under foot.

Salomon Classic Skis­ – Similar to Fischer, the Salmon classic ski pocket is designed to close from the ends and is very position dependant. Staying back on the heel will cause the pocket to remain open, moving the weight forward on the toe will allow it to close. The cold skis feature a wood top sheet to ensure supple feeling in cold conditions. 


Overview – With a significantly different design philosophy, Rossignol skis are unlike anything else on the market. All Rossignol skis have the same base material and the various models are based on the same mold.

The Rossignol Skier – Everything about Rossigonol skis happen on a big scale and the skis will give a lot back to someone who skis big. The skis are not stiff, but they do favour someone who skis with power, as distinct from energy.

Rossignol Skate Skis - The Rossi skate skis have a high, active camber with lot of action. In other words, the input and output of energy for these skis happens on a huge scale. They demand a lot from the athlete, but will give a lot back. These skis are sweet for someone who skis BIG and is a powerful glider. These skis tend to be fastest when gliding on a flat ski and sort of die out when rolled on edge. This is why they favour someone who skis with a lower cadence but has a big, powerful push.

WCS 1 -  The stiffer version with a higher camber-height and significant action.  The ideal ski for strong, extremely fit racers on high-speed snow conditions (think sprinting in fast conditions). Approach this ski with caution as it can sap energy from the legs in a big way.  

*WCS 2 – This model has a more moderate flex and camber height than the WCS1 making it ideal for all snow conditions. The more universal of the Rossignol skate skis. Feels particularly good on the flats and has legendary acceleration and stability.

Rossignol Classic Skis - The general concept of the Rossi pocket is that it closes to a flat finish with little to no residual camber. These skis can be a little less demanding of a forward kicking position than some other brands (see Fischer 812). A light front end makes for quick acceleration, but the classic skis lack the stability that make the Rossignol skate skis famous. Nervous skiers may find these to be a little, ummm, nerve wracking on downhills and in the corners.

NIS C1 is the ideal ski in soft snow conditions and has a low camber with very soft kick. Due to the low camber height it can be hard to make these feel free except in conditions where the track is all but non-existent.

*NIS C2 is a universal classic ski with medium camber height and action.

NIS C3 is a dedicated klister ski with tall camber height and lots of action.