Tuesday, October 30, 2001 - Perspective
NSDT Update: The Season Begins

- By: Drew Goldsack

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Things are going great here in Alaska, training is going very well and it is so nice to be able to ski twice a day, every day! The snow is a bit thin, but the skiing is still very good due to the nicely maintained trails which are mostly grass in the summer, so only a small amount of snow is needed to make for great skiing. There are about 25 kilometers of groomed trails in total and about 10 kilometers of that is track set. Most of the team is using their good skis for skating but the classic track is a bit thin so most of us are using rock skis for classic.

The weather here has been pretty cold, well I guess it just seems cold coming from Canmore temperatures of around 0C. Most days the temperature has been between -10C to -20C which is almost painful. On a clear day (we haven't seen many) Mt. McKinley can be seen off in the distance from the ski trails. McKinley has a higher vertical rise from base to summit than Everest and it is amazing to see such a huge mountain on the horizon. At night the northern lights are amazing, I have never seen them so bright and in so many shades of greens and blues. They seem to fill the whole sky and move like some sort of artificial light show.

Aside from the excitement of getting on snow, I have also been really looking forward to getting my new skis for the year. National Team Wax Tech, Yves Bilodeau, arrived about a week and a half ago in Canmore with all of our new skis, which he hand picked from the factories in Europe and as anyone on the team will tell you it is like Christmas when our skis arrive. For me, once the skis arrive it really feels like the season is underway. I don't know how Yves does it, but somehow he manages to drill and mount bindings on all of our skis (that's 100+ pairs of skis) in only a couple of days! That is on top of the countless pairs of last year's skis that he had to stone grind before we left for Fairbanks. Yves also takes the time to go through both our classic and skate skis with us to tell us what the camber is like (camber is the arch that is in the ski when it is laying flat with no weight on it and it is very important to the performance of the ski.) and what conditions the ski is best suited for based on how the ski flexes and other things like the structure in the base and the base type (plus or cold). So on behalf of the team I would like to give him a big thanks for all of the work that Yves and his helpers have done for us.

This years Fischer skis look and feel great! Fischer redesigned their skate ski this year. They changed their standard skate ski length from 195cm to 192cm and re-designed the tip to be flatter and lighter. They also widened the skate cut slightly to make for better performance in soft conditions. Having only skied on the new skis a few times this year I don't have a lot of experience with them, but they feel excellent, they are very stable and the skate cut still helps a lot in transferring power to the snow. I am sure Fischer will be the top ski for this year.

Once the bindings are mounted and skis are stone ground it is our turn to put many hours of work into the skis to get them ready for racing. It all starts with Yves helping us find the kick zone on our classic skis and amazingly enough it takes him less than a minute to find it. All we do is stand on the skis on a table and with a piece of paper that he slides under the ski he is able to tell very accurately where the kick zone is. But that's not all, just by squeezing the skis together and looking and feeling how the camber of the ski compresses he is able to tell us what conditions and which grip wax will work best with those skis, ie. klister covered with hard wax, binder covered, straight hard wax or straight klister. After that it is time to start saturating the skis with glide wax. First a warm wax is put on, such as Vauhti yellow and it is scraped warm to clean the base of any dust or dirt that may be in the pours of the base. Then a cold wax like Vauhti green is put on and scraped off cool. This helps to constrict the pours in the base and prepare them to accept the many layers of wax that will be applied during the year. After this step a mid range wax like Vauhti purple (always use non fluro waxes for saturation, fluro waxes are not good for your skis and should only be used for races) is applied and ironed in a couple of times, letting the wax cool between each ironing. The wax is then scraped off and the skis are ready to be skied on! Skiing on new skis is perhaps the best way to make them fast, so long as you wax them at least twice in between every time you use them. This cycle of skiing on the skis and then waxing them should be repeated at least ten times before they will be at their best for racing. The more times your skis are waxed the faster they will be and remember never to let a pair of skis sit without glide wax on them for longer than a day as the base will dry out and start to slow your skis down. Everyone on the team follows the same or similar procedure for preparing their skis to race on and it is amazing how fast you can make your skis when you put a lot of work into them.

(Drew Goldsack is a rookie on the National Senior Development Team in Canmore. He comes to the senior ranks after a very successful junior career with the National Junior Ski Team, posting some of the best Canadian world junior results in the past decade.)

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