If you didn’t know already, our retail store – Deep Cove Outdoors – as well as selling a great range of SUPs, surfskis and kayaks ALSO sells cross country skis, boots, poles and accessories. Cross country skiing is great winter training for paddling as it is all focussed on working your core. Seeing as snow is in the forecast for this weekend, we thought we’d give you a quick guide on how to pick the right ski for you!
Classic vs Skate
Classic skiing has a rep as being suitable for ‘old people’, or those who just want to have a nice ‘ski in the woods’, but that does it a bit of an injustice. Classic is technically harder than skate skiing, but when you get there, the workout can be just as tough as skate skiing, better known as Nordic skiing’s hardcore side.
Admittedly, skate skiing is a great workout, engaging all your big muscles as you use your core, your thighs, glutes and shoulders/arms, but again, technique is everything and the better your form, the more effective your workout.
Three…no Four Types of Classic Skis
If you’ve chosen classic skiing, the next decision is what kind of classic ski is right for you. For a beginner with little technical knowledge or desire to acquire any, a crown ski where the grip zone of the ski has scales to grip the snow is suitable. As long as you keep the glide zone waxed, these skis are very easy to maintain and work fine in most conditions.
Skin Tech skis are relatively new to the market, and in terms of ease of use they come a close second to crown skis. They are in-between crowns and zeros, and use a strip of fabric for grip, sometimes a synthetic material but often mohair is used. Similar to crown skis, they need waxing just on the glide part of the ski. This video from Madshus shows how they have re-imagined the mohair ski this year, and they are getting some great feedback about it too.
Zero skis are certainly the ‘ski du jour’, picking up quite a lot of attention in the last couple of years. For us on the humid west coast they tend to work really well as they work best at or around zero degrees. Similar to a crown ski in that the grip zone doesn’t need wax, in this case a strip of fabric-type material is used in the same way that a touring ski’s skin works to grip the snow. However, they are more performance oriented than a crown ski or skin tech ski, and they will generally ski faster than either.
Waxable skis involve a lot of attention, but reward you with the best skiing experience if you are willing to put the time in. Having to choose the right grip wax for the conditions of a particular day means you have to invest the time to try waxes (we also run waxing clinics), learn from your experiences and work at it, but as your perfectly waxed skis enable you to sail past people who haven’t done as much work, the feeling of satisfaction is matched only by the glow of the workout.
The Right Length
Whichever style you go for, you need to make sure that the ski will grip and glide at just the right times to ensure that you get good grip on the ups and glides on the downs. The best way to measure that is to use a flex board. We have one in store that we use for every pair of classic skis we sell. It works by using a slider under the grip zone, and as we ask customers to perform various parts of the ski stride, the amount of movement of the slider can tell us if you are putting enough pressure on the ski for it to grip effectively. You can also use the paper method, but we have a slider, so we use that!
Skate Skis are a whole different ball game – the grip and glide square off is of no consequence here as the whole ski is a glide, you just need to make sure that the ski is the right length and flex for someone of your weight and ability level, and off you go. Talking to one of our experts will make sure that we get you the right ski to make sure that all you need to worry about is getting up those hills. Maintenance of the skis is also paramount so the glide is never compromised, keeping up with hot waxing will mean that the skis keep you active for years to come.
We have high performance skate skis available for rental at Deep Cove Outdoors, come down to check them out and to try them before you commit to buying them.