Monday, March 21, 2011


Admittedly, I am well behind the times on this post as Jack has been writing articles about food as fuel for some time. You can check a couple of those out here (you'll have to scroll a bit) - What am I eating and Proper Nutrition. At any rate, I came across this video a few days ago and found it interesting. It's a bit old school, but I'm kind of into that.

Fundamentally, it appears to be exactly the same thing that Jack has been advocating for some time. In other words, the food that you put in your body makes you what you are. Inferior food leads to an inferior body and inferior performance.

Consider the following ideas:

  • Fresh fruit
  • Eggs
  • Whole wheat toast
  • Skim milk
  • Jack might also add an avocado or berries
  • Raw vegetable salad; lettuce, spinach, tomatoes, celery, peppers, mushrooms, cauliflower, broccoli, zucchini
  • Meat or fish or low calorie cottage cheese
  • Jack would use hemp oil as dressing on the salad
  • Raw vegetable salad, as above
  • Two or more crispy cooked vegetables
  • Meat or chicken
  • Fresh fruit and yogurt
  • You wish

Sunday, March 20, 2011

2010 Nationals - Canmore

With the completion of National Championships in Canmore on Saturday, the season is officially over for me. Here are a few images from the week.

Testing for the team sprint. When the weather is nice, there are some serious upsides to this job!

Main street, Canmore - groomed for skate and classic skiing.

On our way to get cappos at Communitea. Hands down the best cappo in Canmore. We ran matching Holbrooks, no big deal.

Now we burn powder wearing the famous toque, hood, mask combo. Some would say infamous...

Sometimes you have to make repairs on the fly. Eric has never claimed to be an electrician.

Now we fuel up. Only high octane for these performance engines.

There were no races on Thursday or Friday, so obviously I drove back to Edmonton on Wednesday night to work the next day. The roads were sketchy.

Brainstorming ideas for a powder test.

Stopping in Red Deer for a break. My car only got dirtier from here. Again, terrible roads.

Overall, I feel like we made some really excellent skis this week. Our performances for the women's sprint on Sunday afternoon and the long distance 50km on the final day really stand out.

We also made some really terrible skis, particularly for the classic sprint. When the tracks are glazed, keep that klister thin.

In terms of wax we ran on Ski*Go paraffins for the entire week - primarily HF green for the morning events and HF orange for the afternoon. For powders, Swix FC710, Vauhti Zerofox, Vauhti Goldfox, and Holmekol Mid all made appearances. Swix K22 klister was consistently the best kickwax, as long as it was applied properly.

Big ups to Jack for killing it in the 50km and to the team of Jack/Will for killing it in the team sprint!

At this point, it is back to real life to get down to the business of accounting. Game on.

Monday, March 7, 2011

The Life Cycle of Skis

Making fast skis for our athletes on the World Cup is hard work. Luckily, we do good work and lots of it. I thought it would be interesting to provide a glimpse into the life cycle of a pair of World Cup skis.
Picking skis makes me tired.

June - Most race skis are selected directly from the factory in Europe. The race room is a magical place, filled with amazing skis as far as the eye can ski. World cup skis are produced by a different group of workers using special layups and materials. This results in skis with a more lively feel and incredible speed. The skis are selected entirely by hand, which is a slow, expensive process. An incredible amount of time is spent assessing camber action, dampening characteristics, bridge length and position, etc. to find those special pairs (Caldwellsport).
The Fischer race room (Zach Caldwell's photo).

Early fall - Once the skis arrive in North America they are always stone ground to impart a structure particular to the characteristics of that pair. At the same time, older skis may also be ground to flatten the base and remove burned and damaged base material. The best grinders conduct non-stop research and development to stay ahead of the competition and invent new grinds. Immediately following grinding the bases are very soft and delicate. To saturate the bases with wax the skis are placed in a heat box at a low temperature (50C) for 6-12 hours using a very specific paraffin. Next, the skis are scraped and a harder paraffin wax is applied followed by the heat box at 60C for approximately one hour. This treatment will saturate the base and then harden it to a level where it can be race-waxed with high-temperature fluoros and cold waxes.  (BNS)

Wintersteiger grinding machines.
Late fall - For classic skis, the wax pocket is fully analyzed and marked. It is important that the technicians know not only how many layers to put on each ski, but where those layers should be positioned (caldwellsport).

Winter - At this point, the skis are ready to rock! Most athletes travel with twenty or so pairs of skis, each of which have been tuned to a specific set of conditions. This means that certain skis will get used a lot, while others might spend most of their life in the bag. When the skis are not in use, they are always covered in travel wax (usually Swix LF6, Star LA6, or Sold Performance Red). On race day, the skis will be prepared with paraffin base layers, paraffin race layers, pure flouro powders, topcoats, and hand structure. Immediately following the race the bases are cleaned with solvent (grip zones) or fluoro cleaner (glide zones) and covered in travel wax. In other words, World Cup skis are always waxed when they are not in use.

Now we wax.
Spring - Once the season is over the technicians help the athletes evaluate their skis and look to identify holes in the fleet. Orders are placed with the ski companies in terms of quantities, and the whole process begins again. All the skis are double checked to ensure that they are clean and wax is applied as necessary for storage over the summer.

As spotted at the Fischer factory in Austria. These will not be slow skis
Early in my career as a wax technician someone told me, "Accepting dorkiness is the first step to embracing dorkiness. Without embracing dorkiness you can't make fast skis." I've been accused of being a pretty big dork from time to time. Maybe, in this context, that's not the worst thing.

Dorkiness = fast skis. Boom.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Canadian Natinonals - Glide Wax

Canadian Nationals begin on March 12 (my birthday!) with the skate team sprint. I have already received questions about glide waxing for Canmore, so here are a few early tips.

1. Base Layers
No matter what the air temperature is in Canmore, the snow is always aggressive. The snowpack tends to stay cold and it is very important to harden the bases sufficiently. My favourite choices are Swix LF4 or Solda S30.

2. Paraffin
In general, Canmore requires paraffins that are colder than you might initially think. Swix LF4, Solda S30, Ski*Go Violet, and Solda F31 Violet, and Holmenkol Matrix Blue consistently test well. 

Additionally, during the 2010 and 2008 World Cups in Canmore, I picked up some recipes for paraffin mixes that are tuned specifically to the Nordic Centre Conditions. While I am not at liberty to reveal the ingredients, these recipes are the real thing and have been used with great success by the Canadian, American, Finn, and Swedish teams. I have prepared a limited batch of these mixes, which are available at Fast Trax. Given the relatively stable forecast (TWN - 14 day outlook) and standard expectations for Nordic Centre snow, mixes 1, 2, and 4 should be particularly interesting. 

World Cup mixes.
Please note that you will need to test these mixes, just as you would with any paraffin solution.

4. Powder
There are a variety of powders to consider for Nationals. Good choices to test will likely include Swix FC7, Swix FC78, Swix FC7/FC10 mixed 50/50, Solda HP04, Solda HP05, Holmenkol Cold, Holmenkol Mid, Vauhti Goldfox, Briko 10.1, and Ski*Go C44/7. 

5. Topcoats
As always with topcoats, it is best to test on the day of the race. In general, look to relatively cold solutions.

6. Hand Structure
A medium v-structure from any of the tools almost always improves feeling at the Nordic Centre. However, my hands down favourite modification is the Holmenkol Cross tool with one roller removed. These tools are hard to come by, but Fast Trax has ONE left.

Given my affiliation with the Alberta World Cup Academy, I won't be posting any additional details with respect to waxes for Nationals. However, if you have additional questions, don't hesitate to contact Jack at Fast Trax.

See you in Canmore!

Sunday Throwdown

So this email came out last night:
Team time trial. 6 to 8km skate swc 10am. Meet swc 930am.  Pick course. Ski course. Individual start every 1min. Two loop course. Warm down. Depart 11am. Starbucks 11:30am. Shop 12pm.

Be there. Boom

Projected temperature at 10AM: -18C (hour by hour chart)

This will be my second race of the year. What the heck... I'm in.