Finding your fit for Nordic skis

bruce mitchell photoIf you’re looking to pick up some classic Nordic skis this season, there are several key factors you’ll want to consider. All classic skis are designed for kicking and gliding in a forward linear motion. You need to look for classic skis that fit your personal interests, abilities, characteristics, and goals. Skis built for classic ski walking on untracked snow are very different from classic race skis. Make sure to pay attention to these key factors to find the right skis for a great Nordic experience. In order of importance, these are length, stiffness, ski base, width, torsional stiffness, and ski weight.

Length: Ideal ski length is determined by your height, and to a lesser degree, by your weight. To find the correct length, extend your arm above your head, the ski should come to your wrist. Go to the next longer ski size if you’re heavier than an average person your height, and down by a size if you are lighter.

Stiffness: The second most important factor is stiffness or camber. A single ski should contact the snow along its full length when loaded by your full weight. When balanced over two skis, the smooth, fast base areas of the tips and tails should contact the snow, but not the grip portion of the ski. Please note that you will not get grip if your skis are too stiff. If the ski is too soft you will constantly be fighting the friction of your wax, or “fish scales”. Correct stiffness is measured on a camber testing table. Don’t buy skis without a camber test unless the manufacturer has specifically labelled them for your weight.

Ski bases: Waxable bases are uniformly smooth, and will work very well in most conditions if you’re prepared to wax them for grip as required by snow temperature, age, and humidity. They’re labour intensive and problematic when the snow is wet. Non-wax ski bases have stepped grip zones, and provide adequate performance in most conditions. They’re designed for recreational skiers, or racing in warm, wet conditions. They perform best when glide waxed.

Width: Wide classic skis are designed for soft snow, and perform adequately in a set track. Narrow skis create less friction in a track, but will not float in soft snow.

Torsional stiffness: Soft torsional stiffness allows the ski to skid more easily, which isn’t ideal for skiers performing at higher speeds. Stiffer torsion provides better tracking and control at higher speeds.

Weight: Ski weight is a consideration for racing. A light ski is a costly ski.

Classic skiing is an exhilarating way to exercise in our amazing outdoors. It allows you to access the backwoods, or to train for your first (or next) race. Choose the right pair of skis, and expect years of adventure, and enjoyment.

See you on the trails.