Top News Stories

Recent Videos

The Way I See It – Birkie, No-Wax Skis, Masters World Cup, Downhills, Race Shape, Cheerleaders, Whitcomb

by Marty Hall

April 17, 2017 – Is This The Birkie Solution? – Check out this video and revisit my comments on the situation at the Birkie so get up to speed on what’s needed to save the biggest xc ski event in North America.

More on No-Wax Skis – Here’s a recap on these skis – remember I’m talking racing but keep in mind that things could change between now and this fall when the new models are released. I hear Fischer is introducing a true racing carbon model and perhaps others as well as this is the trend – master blasters can look forward to this fall.

You must select your skis with an I-beam force testing mechanism (in pounds) so you’re able to relate your body weight to your selected pair of skis. For me THIS IS CRITICAL – no compromise!

Next, I think a full mohair strip offers too much kick for my liking and inlaid versions, like Fischer’s Twin Skin model, is the way to go if you want the best kick-glide potential. You can purchase replacement mohair strips from Fischer and perhaps others when yours wear out or customize your strips like I have. My skis on the beam tester showed they were on the soft side for my weight. How did I determine this? By skiing for a couple of hours at the touring center in Jackson, NH as I could feel them dragging.

I stopped and turned them over and could see snow crystals in the mohair – about 3 inches in the front and 3 inches in the back. I made a mental note for reference and explained my experience with my contact at the Fresh Air ski shop in Ottawa. No stiffer Fischer Twin Skins are available here (yet), but the solution was to shave the mohair strips – DONE – 3 inches in the front and 3 inches in the back.

Next time out, I moved the NNN binding  to the back of the binding plate, which shifted me to the back of the pocket – holy cow – were these skis right on – glide and kick.

So, with a bit more thinking, I took one of the skis and cut the 3-inch mohair strip out of its inlaid position and filled it in with a p-tex candle (see picture).

Now for the real test – yes, I skied on it, and the fill-in worked just fine despite some concern about them falling out. Perfecto!!!

So, off to Ottawa for a visit, and a race, don’t laugh to hard, as the 70km I skied this winter is more then all I did the last two years. A total double knee replacement took care of a lot of that time and a partially torn rotator  cuff took care of the early season this winter.

I train in my Man Cave in the cellar and that’s all I had to rely on for the 5km effort. Conditions were hard snow, so hard wax was the call for the day. My mohairs were hot waxed for the conditions – the technique being to hot wax the glide area as you would any race ski. BUT, Toko has developed a protocol for waxing the mohair strips. See here – this saves me writing. YES, it works – stops the potential for picking up whatever kind of snow you are skiing on – no icing.

Now for the coup de grace. The race I was to be in – as I had been off skis essentially for the past three years – was at the Gatineau Loppet and I had signed up for a 5km run. I used to live just over the hill from race central and have skied the terrain 100s of times, so it fit my needs perfectly – lots of flats, one long uphill that was fairly steep at the top, a downhill of the same terrain in reverse and a jump landing downhill.The field featured lots of very young skiers vs us old farts.

I wanted to be with people but not in a mass start mess. Best to check out how my balance was on skis (fyi better than on foot) and how I would handle down hills with alpine type turns. I received passing grade on all aspects. I had my mohairs and a regular pair of skis all waxed to race. Kathy, my wife, left me off at a location 2-3 km from the start and I skied over to the start for a warm-up on my mohairs – I met Kathy there with my waxed skis and give them a test ski.

My reaction was that on the way over the mohairs were definitely in the ball game and the waxed pair were OK but not secure enough in the kick. In the race I wanted to end up with a 6 min/km pace – but I did better than that at 5mins/km. The ski were out standing – passed people dbl poling on the flats and downhills – no drag in the mohair areas anywhere!

Had all the climb I needed.

See picture of mohair zone customized.

Marty's mohair skis [P]

This is the ski that I’ve done the most modifications to – on the left (red Color – summer wax) – those black extensions are the mohair grooves filled in with black p-tex (3 inches). Then there’s 12 inches of mohair for the kick zone and then another 3-inch section of shaved mohair for glide also. Remember, I have adjustable bindings, and I am at the back-end of the plate and have the ability to move it forward to improve kick.

The experiment goes on – can’t wait for the first tracks next winter. This pair of skis does it all – -kick and glide at their premium.

NOW, if Fischer was to make strips with p-tex, inlaid thickness and with a glue strip to hold them in place – then there could be unlimited modifications that you could do up until minutes before the race – as they say the cat’s meow. They have the mohair strips now – let’s hope p-tex will follow.

Masters World Cup New Phenomenon – 1,000 skiers – yes 1,000 skiers – looking to get their skis waxed and low and behold there are waxing services available at about $100 a pair. The next service will be getting the best grind for the day – it can be done, and have your skis ready to race. Make sure you have your wallet nearby.

Women on Downhills – I noticed a number of times this winter while watching the WCups, that  a number of female skiers are really knocked kneed on downhills. The best downhill technique calls for being on a flat ski and this knee position puts you on the inside edge of the skis (slower). This is the way the femur hinges, which is different for women, than for men. Take a look.

FIS Survey Racing – A recent FIS survey asked for your opinion on start and race formats on the WCup circuit. My thoughts were few, as I Iike the schedule, except for the pursuit-start format, which is complicated and not understandable even before the race begins! Let alone after it finishes.

That race is like the DODO bird which is now extinct. You have your starting group that is done on a time penalty format, which very few people know how to understand and after 20-30 racers the rest of the field is mass started!! What the hell is that all about?

I’ll tell you what I think! The last race of the series should be the SKIATHLON – mass start, change skis half way – the winner wins the mini-tour. The battle is right in front of you – the way it should be. Both techniques are represented and done.

A lot more excitement this way than what’s taking place now. Make it 10km men and 7.5km women each technique(sprint distances) – then watch ’em go!!!!

National Team Racing – Either there was a lot of sickness we didn’t know about on the National Team this winter, or some skiers are definitely not skiing enough races to stay in race shape.

Paying Attention At the WSC – How observant were you at the WSC in Lahti as there were cheerleaders there, just like going to a sporting event in the USA. GO-GO Blue and White FIGHT-FIGHT-FIGHT.

Still MIA – Not at Nationals in Fairbanks… I’m looking for Matt Whitcomb.

Talk to you soon!

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.