Friday, 13 December 2013

Orange Crush Youth TT

Fast Trax Wax Recommendation
Orange Crush Youth TT and AWG Trials
Event Information:

Saturday - interval start, classic, race start at 10:30am


Warmer air blasts in tonight. Although temperatures will get to around or slightly above zero, there IS a catch. That warmer air is creating the possibility for rain. In some areas, that rain will fall on sub-zero surfaces & become freezing rain.

For the Capital region, there's a risk of wet snow or freezing rain between midnight & 6am. There's a second pocket of rain that may come through late afternoon or early evening.

Wind looks like it'll start gusting between 40 & 60km/h Saturday night & through much of Sunday in the Edmonton area.

Tonight - Mostly cloudy.
Risk of wet flurries or freezing rain after midnight.
Evening Low: -24

Saturday - Mostly cloudy. 40% chance of morning flurries or freezing rain.
30% chance of rain in the afternoon/evening. Risk of freezing rain.
Wind becoming gusty in the evening.
Morning: -9
Afternoon High: 1

Glide Recommendation:

Base layer - Ski*Go LF Graphite

Race paraffin - Swix LF7, Ski*Go LFViolet/LF Yellow mixed 50/50 


Although the daytime high temperatures are forecast to be quite warm for the weekend, it is important to remember that a large portion of the race course is in the woods and covered by shade. As a result, the snow will not be subject to the full force of the warming trend. In addition, exceptionally cold overnight lows during the early part of the week will have cooled the snowpack significantly.

Due to the shady trails and cold overnight lows leading up to the race, we have recommended a slightly colder glide wax. We have also suggested the application of an initial hardening layer. Given the cold overnight temperatures, this will make a big difference in ski speed for the duration of the race. Ski*Go LF Graphite is also exceptionally good at dealing with the leaves and debris that will blow into the trails with the high wind. 

If you choose not to do the initial hardening layer, you will want to go with a colder race paraffin. Something in the blue (LF6) range. 

Grip Recommendation:

Does anyone remember the Birkie from last year? This could be a nightmare tomorrow - warm, wet snow/rain falling on tracks of new, cold snow. Yikes. 

A few scenarios:

If the warm/wet precipitation doesn't come, things will be exceptionally easy -  Swix VR40, VR45, Rode Super Extra, Rode Multigrade, etc. could all be great options. 

If the precipitation DOES come, things will change in a hurry - Rode Violet, the warmer Swix waxes (50,55,60, etc.),  Vauhti K9, Start MFW Red or Purple, etc. could all be in play. As could klister - Start Universal, Rode Multigrade, Swix K21n, might be considerations. If these start icing, covering with hardwax could be an option. Ultimately, it all depends on how warm it gets and how much snow falls.


Unfortunately, it is exceptionally difficult to guess the wax for a day like tomorrow when things are changing FAST. Once the kick wax gets up into the violet range and softer and with falling snow, the situation becomes complicated. The best advice is to ensure that whatever you do end up selecting is corked nice and smooth. Lumps and bumps in the wax will be prone to catching ice, which is the worst situation.


Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Dry/White Bases

One of the most common questions we get at the shop is, "I just had my skis waxed and now they have white streaks and look dry. I thought I was good for the winter? What's the deal?"

Dry bases exhibiting the typical white streaks.
"Dry bases" is what occurs when the base turns white in the high-pressure areas after skiing, particularly in abrasive or cold conditions. Often you might see these white streaks near the edges of the ski (as above) and frequently in the tail (as this part of the ski bears the majority of the load). The occurrence of dry bases is generally due to polyethylene fibers collecting at the surface of the base material. Some base materials are more prone to this phenomenon than others, and there is no immediate reason to believe that it is indicative of any damage. 

So what is happening? Wax that has been absorbed into the base of your skis, either through ironing or in the heat box, is gradually pulled out over time by the snow. This process is what provides lubrication while skiing, ensuring that your skis have maximum speed and maximum glide.

Since the act of skiing pulls wax out of the base, that means that your skis need to be rewaxed regularly! 

Unfortunately, there is no easy rule of thumb as to how often rewaxing will be required... at least not based on kilometers. Rather, a better rule of thumb is that when you are not able to bring a satisfactory shine back to the base with light brushing, it is probably time to rewax. It is important to note that under particularly cold or particularly abrasive conditions, this could happen really quickly. Perhaps after just one or two outings!

If in doubt, bring your skis by the shop and we will be happy to provide a recommendation.

Monday, 9 December 2013

Some thoughts on your winter training

Here are some thoughts on your winter training from a running and nordic perspective.

Run Training
As one training-competition season ends, it’s appropriate to reflect back on that season to review the causes-effects of what you did, and project to the future on how you can get even better results.

Coaching/training/competition is 50% science and 50% art. Your training program, and running the fastest even pace possible in competition, provides the science. The science is what determines your progress resulting from training, and your performances in competition. The “art” is how you apply that science.
"Three, two, one, go!"
As a brief summary, here’s a review of the Scientific Principles of Training-Adaptation:
  • “The body adapts to the applied stresses.”  -You train, and your body adapts to the training to enable improved performances.
  • The adaptations are specific to the applied stresses.”  - You adapt specific to what you do in training.  If you properly train speed, speed endurance, and specific endurance, your performances will improve significantly.  If you train at or slower than your current best race pace, you will not be able to adapt to run faster.  For example, competing does not improve future performances; because you are running at your current race pace, not your objective race pace.  Competing is to measure your progress, not aid future performances. 
  • “The body will only adapt to an unaccustomed stimulus.”  - As previously implied, you will only positively adapt to training faster and harder than you are able to currently in competitions.
  • “Adaptation occurs during recovery.”  - You stress the body through hard formal workouts, and then you adapt to those stresses over the next 48 to 72 hours if you limit the interim stresses to allow that to occur.
  • “Your body will positively adapt to the applied stresses as long as the stresses are not to great.”  -  If the stresses are too great, you will not adapt positively to those stresses, but will adapt negatively. Negative adaptation is caused by cumulative stresses, where full recovery-adaptation from previous hard training sessions are not complete before subsequent high stress sessions.  As important as the workouts are, allowing full recovery-adaptation between formal workouts is equally important.  So limit recovery day running volumes and intensities and if full recovery is still not achieved, limit those even further.

Race Selection Considerations for Runners
Unless you are running faster than previous best race pace (e.g., running 5k's, 10k's and 1/2 marathons in preparation for running a marathon, competitions do not aid physical development.  So, to maximize your development, emphasize training, and select competitions wisely. By selecting events wisely you can use the shorter events to help you better prepare for your longer goal events.

Nordic Training
As a nordic skier you are now well into your season and each of the above training principles applies to your training and racing. Even with the race calendar in full swing to maximize your development emphasize your training including strength training and select your competitions wisely to help you better prepare for your goal events latter in the winter.
"What's the warm up"
Race Selection Considerations for Nordic Skiers
Less developed athletes should compete more frequently (perhaps once per each 2 weeks), to better learn how to “compete”.  More developed athletes should compete less frequently (perhaps once per each month), and only at high levels avoiding the pressures of racing every weekend which negatively affects your training and future preparation.

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Fischer 902 - seriously... what's the deal?

The start of the story...

Today at the second Alberta Cup of the season, I made race skis for Ingrid Tveten. Ingrid is a Norwegian exchange student living with a family in Athabasca for the year. The event was 7.5km classic and the wax of the day was klister; specifically a 50/50 mix of Rode Multigrade and Rode Violet.

In an exciting turn of events, Ingrid won the race. It is easy to make yourself look good as a service man when you work with the right athletes! After the race, however, one of the dads came to talk to me. He was concerned that he had expected his daughter to do better. Classic was her preferred event and she was in excellent shape. He had observed that ski speed seemed to be an issue and asked what was so special about the skis Ingrid was on.

As it turns out, Ingrid didn't bring many pairs of skis to Canada and didn't have anything appropriate for klister. The skis she raced on were a pair of Fischer 902s that I happened to have in my trunk. Admittedly, these are particularly good 902s, but they are 902s nonetheless. And that is the important part of this story.

So... what's the deal with these skis?

At the retail level, the 902 is better known as the "S-Track", although this is a bit of a misnomer. More on that later.

S-Track: a misleading name!

Left: 902 mold ski   Right: 812 mold ski
The 902 has a few distinct characteristics:
  • Significant tip/tail splay under load
  • Soft tips
  • Short pressure zone in the gliding surface
  • Typically a higher camber
  • Punchy, active feeling

Above: traditional, 812 Fischer classic ski   Below: 902 classic ski, note the pronounced splay

Why should I care? What are these things actually good for?

The 902 is by far the most used classic ski on the World Cup. Here are some conditions when you should think about using them too:

  • Klister conditions - these are the conditions for which the 902 was originally designed
  • Soft, sticky hardwax - think violet (e.g VR50) and warmer, any time the snow starts to exhibit some moisture or the track starts to glaze
  • Transformed snow

A last word

Earlier I noted that the "S-Track" name was misleading. A careful read of the appropriate 902 conditions listed above will explain why! It has nothing to do with the firmness of the track and everything to do with the qualities of the snow crystals.