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Wax Week Day 4 - Applying Kick Wax

Posted by Josh Doebbert on Jan 21st 2014

The last few days, we’ve focused primarily on the glide portion of waxing.  Glide waxing applies to both skating and classic skiing and tends to be more involved and intimidating for newer skiers.  But for classic skiing, kick waxing is actually more important – without kick, you’re not going up any hills – so that’s what we’re going to cover today.

First, a couple of basics.  There are generally two kinds of kick wax: “hard wax,” which comes in small metallic tins and is crayoned onto the ski, and “klister,” which comes in toothpaste-like tubes and has a gel-like consistency.  Hard waxes are used for the vast majority of classic skiing as they’re cleaner and easier to work with, but klisters may be required for very icy or slushy conditions – hard waxes simply won’t provide enough grip.

To account for their different natures, your classic ski should have had a few marks applied to it when you purchased them.  As the diagram shows below, the inner two marks are your “klister zone” – when using klister, you apply it between these marks.  Similarly, hard waxes should be applied between the furthest back mark under the heel and the middle mark on the forebody.  The final mark is known as the powder mark or “panic” mark – in very soft, dry conditions, the snow may shear off from itself easily, so the only way to get kick is to extend your hard wax zone.

Having covered the marks we want to use, let’s go over how to apply both types of wax.

Hard Wax:

  1. If this is your first time using the classic skis, you may want to sand your klister zone with 220 grit sandpaper.  This will provide additional surface area for the wax to grab onto, increasing durability.  Any sanding should run up and down the ski rather than applying any cross-hatching.
    Also keep in mind, the goal is to rough up the surface slightly, not to remove significant amounts of material.  Don’t get too aggressive.

    The kick zone after sanding
  2. Crayon the kick wax onto the hard wax pocket on your ski using long strokes down the length of the pocket.  Use only moderate pressure and tilt the tin so the bottom is angled slightly towards the tail of the ski.  This will prevent the wax from coming off in large clumps which will be difficult to cork in.
  3. After your kick pocket is covered with a thin, uniform layer of wax, “cork” the wax into the ski base by rubbing the cork vigorously back and forth over the length of the pocket.  The smoother you can make the wax, the better your ski will perform.
  4. Typically, you will put on multiple layers of hard wax. Depending on your ski, the snow conditions, and the planned distance of the workout, you may only put on two layers or as many as ten. Keep in mind, you can always carry a tin of kick wax and a cork with you and rewax if you start to lose kick.

Klister:

  1. If this is your first time using the classic skis, you may want to sand your klister zone with 220 grit sandpaper.  This will provide additional surface area for the wax to grab onto, increasing durability.  Any sanding should run up and down the ski rather than applying any cross-hatching. Also keep in mind, the goal is to rough up the surface slightly, not to remove significant amounts of material.  Don’t get too aggressive.
  2. Apply the klister to the marked klister pocket of your ski using a chevron pattern with the chevrons about 1 inch apart.
  3. Smooth the klister out using your thumb.
  4. Unlike hard waxes, klister does not necessarily need multiple coats for training. Typically, the only time multiple layers of klister are applied are in certain race conditions where different klisters are layered for an optimum combination of kick and glide.

As a final note, if you are going for a long ski, or skiing in very abrasive snow,  you may also want to use a binder wax.  Binder is used as a base layer which provides additional durability to your kick waxes.  It should always be the first layer of kick wax applied to your kick pocket, and for the best durability, you can iron it into the base using a fairly low iron temperature (approximately 110 degrees Celsius).

-Posted by Josh Doebbert on Jan 21st 2014

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