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My Skis are sticking to the snow

post #1 of 26
Thread Starter 

I have been tuning my own skis for several years and have always had good results.  Periodically, I have asked my local shop or the resort shop to tune them for me and my results seem to be equivalent.  This past week I was in Flagstaff, AZ and we had a cold snap (-4 to 0 deg F) and 24 hour old snow.  I tuned as I usually do (side and base file (diamond stones), p-tex gouges, brass brush the base for structure and apply wax with a dedicated ski iron.  I scrape the wax (tip to tail) and then brush from tip to tail with Scotch Brite pads.  I did use the Blue wax for the low temps.

 

My skis stuck terribly to the snow for 3-4 runs and then they were fine.

 

What did I do wrong?

 

In retrospect, I may have scraped the skis with my plastic scraper more aggressively than usual.  Otherwise, my technique has always been the same and always worked (at least out west).

post #2 of 26

In my expierience as long as the wax was correct for the temp range, if the skis stick for a few runs then get better, than I had hadn't scraped all the wax off, leaving patches of thicker wax on the base. I confirmed this because there were a few places on the bottom I could scrape wax off with my nail. After a few runs on cold snow the abrasion takes the extra off. I've done this 2 or 3 times when I was in a rush to head up for the weekend, or just tired and careless. If you say you were scraping more agressively than usual could it have been that your scraper was dull, making you work harder, but still not getting it all off? Could you have had some other substance that got on the bottom of your skis but wore off after a few runs?

 

The only other thing I can think of is that the wax wasn't the right one for the real cold when you got there in the morning, but after a few runs the sun was up more and the snow warmed into the waxes temp range. I don't know what ranges your blue wax has, but I know the universal wax I use has a real sharp cutoff where it starts sticking pretty bad, but as soon as the temp rises a little over this they are fine.

 

-Joe-

post #3 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by frojoe View Post
The only other thing I can think of is that the wax wasn't the right one for the real cold when you got there in the morning, but after a few runs the sun was up more and the snow warmed into the waxes temp range. I don't know what ranges your blue wax has, but I know the universal wax I use has a real sharp cutoff where it starts sticking pretty bad, but as soon as the temp rises a little over this they are fine.

 

-Joe-


This..... And something about moisture changes in the snowpack on a clear cold night..... Stick like grip-wax for the first hour or so, then with a little help from the sun, back to normal.

 

I wouldn't worry too much, unless you're racing......  Happens here at Sunshine when the temp plummets below -25c quickly.....

post #4 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by mcmaxwell View Post

I have been tuning my own skis for several years and have always had good results.  Periodically, I have asked my local shop or the resort shop to tune them for me and my results seem to be equivalent.  This past week I was in Flagstaff, AZ and we had a cold snap (-4 to 0 deg F) and 24 hour old snow.  I tuned as I usually do (side and base file (diamond stones), p-tex gouges, brass brush the base for structure and apply wax with a dedicated ski iron.  I scrape the wax (tip to tail) and then brush from tip to tail with Scotch Brite pads.  I did use the Blue wax for the low temps.

 

My skis stuck terribly to the snow for 3-4 runs and then they were fine.

 

What did I do wrong?


"Wrong" is not the right word. More passes with the "Scotch" pads and more brushing with a stiff (not metal!) brush is one way to improve glide here.

post #5 of 26

Vail hit -10 F last week.

I put on appropriate wax and I brush/scotch brite like mad.

 

Everyone in my family was sticking. So was everyone else on the hill.

 

Sometimes the snow wins.

post #6 of 26

Here are a few things that help.  

 

1) When it starts hitting 10 below you are usually better not waxing than waxing.  If you have been consistently waxing all along you don't have to worry too much about damage as there is probably plenty of wax embedded in the base by now.

 

2)  When it gets below zero, if you have a base that has no structure (as in it's smooth) you have an uphill climb ahead of you.  The sticking you are feeling is actually a suction.  With a structured base there is a layer of air trapped between you and the snow and less surface area in contact with the snow providing better glide in extreme cold. 

 

3) Use a colder than normal wax.  Most blue waxes are just above and below the zero temp range.  You want to aim at something that's good for -20 when it's -10.

 

4) I too usually use a scotch brite pad after a light scrape to finish when I wax.  I "crayon" a layer of wax on the skis and no longer drip the wax on as most of it ends up on the floor when you drip it on anyway, so two or three passes of the scraper usually does it.  When it's cold I find a scotch brite pad leaves the ski too smooth (unless there is considerable base structure),  I actually use a metal brush to rough the surface slightly scratching the base IF THE BASE IS SMOOTH.  If the base is structured then a scotch brite will work fine.

post #7 of 26

Not to throw a money wrench into things, but there is a guy who is creating some controversy among the x-country world (some of us do a little Nordic from time-to-time) with his dissertation that claims wax ruins gliding in most situations.  See: http://www.academics.com/science/glide_wax_like_tarring_a_plastic_boat_37797.html  .  You can GOOGLE for a lot more on the subject.  His wife won a bronze in the World Championships without wax, so he is practicing what he preaches.

 

Does this translate into the alpine world?  I have no idea.  My guess is that most of us likely believe (as I do) that wax is usually better than no wax, but no wax is always better than the absolutely wrong wax.  That is why many of us use a universal wax.

 

Regarding the really cold (and really warm) days, I have an idea that might work.  Try rubbing on a temperature specific graphite or graphite/molybdenum wax and then iron your regular wax over it.  On cold days the black stuff will purportedly will have electrostatic properties that helps glide, and on warm days it repels dirt.  I have used this idea successfully for years (particularly at the extreme temperatures) to s t r e t c h the performance of universal waxes.


Edited by quant2325 - 1/8/11 at 12:56pm
post #8 of 26

I thought suction and lack of structure were only an issue on wet snow?  Not sure how we'd get suction if the snow is super dry. 

 

I also think that (could be wrong) racers will pre-chill their skis on cold days and then have another brush at the skis before going down.  I think this would make sense as the further chilling to those sub-zero temps probably forces more wax out of the ski.  Hence, the issue goes away in a run or two.  Now, I've never cared a brush up the hill with me, because even though I'm in NW Montana I've rarely had this drag problem last longer than a few feet off the chair, and I'll throw on the darn CH4 if there is going to be a run of -10F days in a row, but I'd like to hear if anyone has tried that (brushing after the skis have chilled down)?  Normally for mere single digits either side of 0F I've found the Racewax green to be fine.  As for the sun coming out and warming the snow...What sun?  I live in Whitefish.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Uncle Louie View Post

Here are a few things that help.  

 

 

2)  When it gets below zero, if you have a base that has no structure (as in it's smooth) you have an uphill climb ahead of you.  The sticking you are feeling is actually a suction.  With a structured base there is a layer of air trapped between you and the snow and less surface area in contact with the snow providing better glide in extreme cold. 

 

post #9 of 26

Green Wax, scrape the heck out of it, brush structure.   The trick is the right wax Green and take almost all of it off and then structure hard with a horsehair brush.

post #10 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by sibhusky View Post

I thought suction and lack of structure were only an issue on wet snow?  Not sure how we'd get suction if the snow is super dry. 

 


You are right that suction is not what typically causes problems in super cold temperatures (although there is some melting and some suction even when super cold and dry just from the pressure and friction). From my readings, the culprit is static electricity - the increased friction causes a buildup of charged particles that literally make the surface of the ski become attracted to the oppositely charged particles of the snow molecules.  The black waxes (graphite) help. Dominator makes an anti static add on wax for this situation that you crayon on as a checkerboard with the wax. There are also a couple of good super hard waxes for these situations - one from Dominator is called Bullet and my favorite Race Service Arctic. Holmenkol also makes a cold powder that is useful near the edges in preventing abrasion in the extreme condition. I have used this combination in Canada when the high was -20F. You need to be careful in applying the super cold waxes, you need to do a moderately good scrape before they fully harden or the waxes tend to chip off if you leave too deep a layer and you defeat the whole effort. After they set up, it is a workout to do the scrape and brush. Dr. D may also have a super cold wax but I haven't used it.

post #11 of 26


I remember a 2' day that was something like -25F. Didn't have any cold wax, first run was 35-45 deg. slope, almost didn't have enough speed to turn. Never seen so many people leave after 1 run.

Quote:
Originally Posted by The Squeaky Wheel View Post

Vail hit -10 F last week.

I put on appropriate wax and I brush/scotch brite like mad.

 

Everyone in my family was sticking. So was everyone else on the hill.

 

Sometimes the snow wins.

post #12 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by karpiel View Post


I remember a 2' day that was something like -25F. Didn't have any cold wax, first run was 35-45 deg. slope, almost didn't have enough speed to turn.


^ I love that sort of snow. Srsly.

It's like skiing on talcum powder, it feels like the individual grains are so fragile they're constantly breaking into new and sharp and small shards, but the overall mass of snow under the ski doesn't compress into tracks, it feels resilient and rebounds up into the ski.

The steel edges are (usually) MUCH faster than bases in snow like that.
post #13 of 26


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by comprex View Post



Quote:
Originally Posted by karpiel View Post


I remember a 2' day that was something like -25F. Didn't have any cold wax, first run was 35-45 deg. slope, almost didn't have enough speed to turn.




^ I love that sort of snow. Srsly.

It's like skiing on talcum powder, it feels like the individual grains are so fragile they're constantly breaking into new and sharp and small shards, but the overall mass of snow under the ski doesn't compress into tracks, it feels resilient and rebounds up into the ski.

The steel edges are (usually) MUCH faster than bases in snow like that.


It sure makes skiing steep trees easy.

post #14 of 26

Yes, the suction effect has nothing to do with it. Under dry conditions you actually want to hold the water a bit longer under your ski.  In cold, dry snow the base structure should be fine and shaped to hold water a little longer under your ski since so little is available under these conditions; with water present, the wax can provide glide.  Here is info on base structure:

http://www.racewax.com/category/tuning-tips.ski-base-structure/

 

Aside from graphite, moly will do the same and has some better properties.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by vsirin View Post



Quote:
Originally Posted by sibhusky View Post

I thought suction and lack of structure were only an issue on wet snow?  Not sure how we'd get suction if the snow is super dry. 

 


You are right that suction is not what typically causes problems in super cold temperatures (although there is some melting and some suction even when super cold and dry just from the pressure and friction). From my readings, the culprit is static electricity - the increased friction causes a buildup of charged particles that literally make the surface of the ski become attracted to the oppositely charged particles of the snow molecules.  The black waxes (graphite) help.


 

post #15 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by karpiel View Post

It sure makes skiing steep trees easy.

And takes the straightlining poles-in-belly-button-pseudo-tuckers clean off the mountain. icon14.gificon14.gif
post #16 of 26

a simple, general rule is...the colder it is, the harder the wax, scrape it thin, and cork it smooth. The warmer it is, the softer the wax, can leave it thicker, brush it and leave it somewhat rougher.

post #17 of 26


I can't disagree more. This rule will lead to slower skis.  You need to remove all the surface wax.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Racer View Post

a simple, general rule is...the colder it is, the harder the wax, scrape it thin, and cork it smooth. The warmer it is, the softer the wax, can leave it thicker, brush it and leave it somewhat rougher.

post #18 of 26

Green Wax.   Everyone ignored my entry so I will repeat. You can buy at Slidewright here on Epic. One extra thing you can do that I believe helps also.  Hot wax as usual and then let the skis completely cool-cold is good.  When I am waxing for really cold condition I will even set them outside for a hour or two.   then scrape and structure as normal and as stated by others scrape down good don't leave a lot of wax on them.  Works for me.

post #19 of 26

Yes, maybe fast in the morning (you need to remove all the surface wax) but DFL late in the afternoon. I stated a simple, general rule.. we're not talking race day.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Doctor D View Post


I can't disagree more. This rule will lead to slower skis.  You need to remove all the surface wax.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Racer View Post

a simple, general rule is...the colder it is, the harder the wax, scrape it thin, and cork it smooth. The warmer it is, the softer the wax, can leave it thicker, brush it and leave it somewhat rougher.


 
post #20 of 26

DFL?  We need an acronym dictionary. 

 

From this observer, Doctor D is correct, except that he didn't include THIS time, the importance of structure in wet snow periods.  Normally he does.  Since the structure is more important when it's wet than the wax is, if you brush well for AM, you should be fine for PM unless your structure is too fine or missing in places.  Probably, given we're talking about spring-ish hard pack in the AM, your thicker wax might stay on until PM...I doubt it, but maybe if you stop for lunch or something...  But, if the structure is not clean and open, the wax will be next to useless.

post #21 of 26

McMaxwell said something about a cold snap and "and then brush from tip to tail with Scotch Brite pads." He left the base rough, no wonder they stuck. Cold dry snow does not require a big structure. If McMaxwell had corked them his ski would not have stuck. The colder it is the smoother the base.

post #22 of 26

The one time I've had sticking issues I'd foolishly taken skis out of warm car and plunked'em base down right onto fresh snow. Lesson learned!frown.gif

post #23 of 26


I'm talking any day as well, race or not.  Structure is stone-ground into the base, not created by texturing the wax (which it sounds like you are suggesting).  I think you are getting the two confused.  Remove all the surface wax is the general rule - all the time (though some people bypass it because it wears off anyway - this has already been discussed to the death here).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Racer View Post

Yes, maybe fast in the morning (you need to remove all the surface wax) but DFL late in the afternoon. I stated a simple, general rule.. we're not talking race day.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Doctor D View Post


I can't disagree more. This rule will lead to slower skis.  You need to remove all the surface wax.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Racer View Post

a simple, general rule is...the colder it is, the harder the wax, scrape it thin, and cork it smooth. The warmer it is, the softer the wax, can leave it thicker, brush it and leave it somewhat rougher.


 

 
post #24 of 26

Nope!

post #25 of 26

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Racer View Post

McMaxwell said something about a cold snap and "and then brush from tip to tail with Scotch Brite pads." He left the base rough, no wonder they stuck. Cold dry snow does not require a big structure. If McMaxwell had corked them his ski would not have stuck. The colder it is the smoother the base.

We seem to have TWO situations here, Racer.  The OP asked about COLD, said he scraped then ScotchBrited.  He certainly should have brushed, but to me, in cold, it could have been a minor issue if the wax cooled overnight in a cold room and then he ScotchBrited (instead of brushed) the surface vigorously.  There would have been wax still down in the structure with this method, but it shouldn't be the issue it would have been in warmer conditions.  It sounds like you agree with us on that part.  I live in NW Montana and don't even OWN a cork, I scrape and brush like a banshee, using harder wax in frigid temps.  More than likely the skis weren't allowed to cool sufficiently before the Scotch Brite or the Scotch Brite did not sufficiently remove the surface wax.  That's why the brush is better. 

 

Then we have you, Racer, coming along and saying that on warm days you can leave a lot of wax on the ski, it SOUNDS like you are talking just ironing and leaving a lumpy layer??  In warm conditions, especially when the snow is just starting to turn into slush, but is not quite at that level, you need that structure OPEN so that suction is not created by the dampness of the snow forming a vacuum on the base.  The little cuts prevent that suction from forming and the BIGGER the little cuts, the better you will glide in those conditions.  That is why that structure needs to be cleaned out of wax.  In fact, my spring skis have a larger structure than my normal winter skis.  Doctor D is not addressing the comments you made about cold weather which were fine, but about warm weather ("The warmer it is, the softer the wax, can leave it thicker, brush it and leave it somewhat rougher.").


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Doctor D View Post


I'm talking any day as well, race or not.  Structure is stone-ground into the base, not created by texturing the wax (which it sounds like you are suggesting).  I think you are getting the two confused.  Remove all the surface wax is the general rule - all the time (though some people bypass it because it wears off anyway - this has already been discussed to the death here).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Racer View Post

Yes, maybe fast in the morning (you need to remove all the surface wax) but DFL late in the afternoon. I stated a simple, general rule.. we're not talking race day.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Doctor D View Post


I can't disagree more. This rule will lead to slower skis.  You need to remove all the surface wax.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Racer View Post

a simple, general rule is...the colder it is, the harder the wax, scrape it thin, and cork it smooth. The warmer it is, the softer the wax, can leave it thicker, brush it and leave it somewhat rougher.


 

 

 


 

 

post #26 of 26


I am addressing both comments.  Scrape wax completely off all the time - no matter the conditions - for best and immediate performance.  He said for cold leave a thin layer of wax and cork it smooth. That implies clogging the structure with wax; a cork certainly isn't going to free the structure of wax.  You need to remove all the wax and let your base (stone-ground) structure do the work.  You will use the water created from friction in cold dry snow to your advantage for glide.

 

Taken from http://www.racewax.com/category/tuning-tips.ski-base-structure/

"In cold, dry snow the structure should be fine and shaped to hold water a little longer under your ski since so little is available under these conditions."

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by sibhusky View Post

 

Doctor D is not addressing the comments you made about cold weather which were fine, but about warm weather


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Doctor D View Post


I'm talking any day as well, race or not.  Structure is stone-ground into the base, not created by texturing the wax (which it sounds like you are suggesting).  I think you are getting the two confused.  Remove all the surface wax is the general rule - all the time (though some people bypass it because it wears off anyway - this has already been discussed to the death here).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Racer View Post

Yes, maybe fast in the morning (you need to remove all the surface wax) but DFL late in the afternoon. I stated a simple, general rule.. we're not talking race day.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Doctor D View Post


I can't disagree more. This rule will lead to slower skis.  You need to remove all the surface wax.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Racer View Post

a simple, general rule is...the colder it is, the harder the wax, scrape it thin, and cork it smooth. The warmer it is, the softer the wax, can leave it thicker, brush it and leave it somewhat rougher.


 

 

 


 

 

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