Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Spring Preparation for the Nordic Skier

It’s May, and with the 2014-15 season officially in the rearview mirror, we have officially entered the 2015-16 training year and it’s dryland season. It is time to prepare your skis for fall and get ready for roller ski season.

In terms of your skis, make sure your skis are ready to go so that you can maximise your on-snow time come fall. Glide zones left dirty and dry will oxidize over the summer, leaving them feeling slow even with new wax in the fall.
The last thing you want is to grab a pair of classic skis soiled with old klister and debris from last spring when the new season arrives with that klister left on over the hot summer has run down the bases leaving you with a real mess to clean.
Start with cleaning off any remains of klister and kick wax. Scrape off the worst with a klister paddle. Then apply liberal amounts of wax cleaner. Wipe clean and dry with Fiberlene or shop towel. Feel the surfaces with your hands after to make sure all sticky residues are removed. Don’t forget to wipe down the glide zones, bindings, tops and sides of the skis as well.
Once the skis are clean and dry, start applying glide wax to all glide zones (don’t glide wax the kick zone on classic skis). Use a medium-hard glide wax, such as Swix CH/LF7 or similar from other manufacturers. Using a medium-hard glide wax for summer storage saves the step of rewaxing with a colder glide wax when you are ready for the first ski in the fall: You just scrape off your summer wax and go!
With skis waxed and put away, take stock of the rest of your gear too. Look over your poles and repair or replace any baskets or broken parts. If you are using the same poles for roller skiing, now is a good time to switch from snow baskets to roller ski ferrules using a small pot of boiling water to warm the pole glue. There is no need to add more glue, simply warm the basket in the boiling water, remove and slide on the roller ski tip and let cool. When complete save the baskets in a convenient location so that you can change back come fall.

One thing to keep in mind is that roller skiing is particularly hard on carbon race poles, as the repetitive pounding on pavement puts a lot of stress on the carbon fibers. Therefore, you might consider whether you want to use your best carbon poles for everyday roller ski workouts. Snow is more forgiving than pavement, and doesn’t create the same kind of impact.
Also when switching to roller skiing you will be using a thinner glove so getting the most out of the pole requires paying attention to adjusting the strap properly and keeping your roller ski ferrules razor sharp. Dull ferrules increase the impact from pole planting on elbows and shoulders, which are the most injury-prone joints in terms of overuse when roller skiing.
Sharp ferrules prevent the poles from slipping and provide a more snow-like feel, reducing the need to pound your poles into the pavement with unreasonable amounts of force. The best way we have found to sharpen ferrules is with a dremel with a carbide grinding stone, a service we offer at the shop.
And what about your wax and grooming tools, klister tubes that have been opened always pose a problem, and the summer heat just makes it worse. Grab some Fiberlene or shop towels and some base cleaner, wipe down all the containers, and make sure the caps are on tightly. Push the content to the front of the tube, and roll up the bottoms. Store them standing up with the caps pointing up to prevent them from running. And if you have an old fridge in your garage or basement, this makes a great summer storage for klister. Other ski wax can be stored at room temperature.
Also, clean off your wax iron, tables and wax forums, brushes and scrapers. Putting your brushes in the freezer for a couple of hours makes it easier to get all the old wax shavings out of the bristles.
And finally, do a quick inventory of the wax box. Write a list of which products your are out of or low on, so you are armed and ready when you make the first wax run in the fall.

The work you put in now in both ski preparation and maintaining roller ski ferrule sharpness pays off in the fall, once it’s snowing, so you can devote your time to training and putting in valuable time on snow.

Roller Ski Options

Roller skiing is some of the most ski-specific dryland training, but to get the most for your time invested and training effort, it’s important to find the right roller skis. Here’s what to look for when buying some of the most important dryland training equipment.

Just as with regular skis, its important to define how and where you plan to use your roller skis. What kind of surface and terrain will you roller ski on? Smooth velvety asphalt, concrete, chip seal or even gravel? Skate or classic?

Swenor Fiberglass
For those who are relatively new to roller skiing, it’s extra important to get skis that are stable and easy to maneuver.

Buy roller skis from solid brands that have been around a while such as Swenor and V2. New brands often have a few bugs to work out, and roller skiing is not where you want to find a defect and it’s easy to find replacement parts and service on established brands.

The different brands and models offer different technologies in the construction. But most roller skis fit into one of two main categories: aluminum shaft construction and fiberglass/wood core construction. Aluminum shafts are light, sturdy and stiff. Fiberglass/wood core roller skis generally absorb more of the road vibration and are a good choice for uneven/rough surfaces.

The Swenor Fibreglass has a wood core/fiberglass laminate shaft and provides exceptional vibration control. This model has long been a favorite with elite skiers and the Norwegian and Swedish national teams. 

The Swenor Allutech is an aluminum shaft ski that is easy to ski, and is a good choice for skiers who are new to roller skiing. That said, this is also the top pick for some of the elite skiers.

Always wear a helmet, glasses, gloves and bright, reflective clothing. A helmet goes without saying, glasses keep dust and bugs out of your eyes as well as the glare and gloves will save your hands when and if you spill. Reflective clothing is crucial even on bright sunny days as the glare from the sun makes it hard for drivers to see roller skiers on the shoulder. If you have the option, use a roller ski specific arena where cars are banned and the turns are perfectly designed to keep you on the course and out of the ditch, or bike paths when possible. Also, firm dirt roads are a great low-traffic alternative and also opens up a lot more terrain.

Roller Ski Maintenance

Most people know they should glide wax their skis after each workout in the winter. But what about your roller skis? After a long workout, it’s so easy to just dump the roller skis in the garage or the storage shed and forget about them until next time.
Roller skiing is great practice for skiing, both specific technique and specific strength, but the key to getting the most out of the training time invested, you need to stay upright and injury free.
Taking care of your gear and making sure it’s in working order is a good insurance for equipment mishaps leading to injury, and roller skis are no exception.
Their off!
While roller ski maintenance is super easy, a lot of skiers have no idea what to do with their roller skis. The result is that they do nothing.
A clean machinery works so much better than a gunky one, and clean skis last a lot longer as the sand and grime wears down moving parts. The most important maintenance is simply clean water.
However, don’t give in to the urge of the power washer. The pressure can damage bearings and seals.
Just rinse the skis and wheels all over with a water hose or an outdoor tap. It doesn’t take long, but it’s probably the most important step to take in order to care for your roller skis.
After rinsing, let the skis dry completely, preferably in room temperature or on a heated floor. This helps prevent any rust. Also, try storing the skis at room temperature. Bearings and moving parts just run smoother when stored in a warmer environment than in a cool garage or shed.
Have a roller ski tech handle the wrench and the oil unless you really know what you’re doing. With tools involved you risk damaging your skis if you’re not careful.
The good thing is that with regular cleaning, your skis will go a long time before they need a tuneup.
You don’t have to get a tuneup until you feel your roller skis not performing right. For classic skis, the tell tale sign is when the ratchet doesn’t lock, and for any kind of ski when the wheels don’t seem like they spin freely despite cleaning, or make unusual noises.
Finally, try rotating your skis between your left and your right foot. Rotating the skis gives you more even wear on the wheels, and a more stable ski throughout the wheels’ lifetime.
The bottom line:
1. Rinse well
2. Dry completely
3. Store at room temperature
4. Enjoy the dryland season! (Don’t forget helmet and sunscreen)
Bonus: It’s so much more pleasant to grab a set of clean skis when you head out for a workout.