By Leandro Lutz
Let's assume that you are passionate about cross country skiing, work all week long, combine family and training, enjoy skiing on weekends and love traveling to long distance races that spread around the world.
You travel by plane or car with your family, you cannot carry all your ski fleet and all waxing gear like wax table, waxes, glide and kick iron, brushes, etc. Still, your hotel does not have a waxing room, weather conditions vary a lot and as you arrive just before the race, you don not have much time to test skis, waxes and make an ideal preparation of your skis.
Well, this hypothetical situation is the reality of many people racing in long distance races and skin skis are proving to be a very interesting option. But what are the skin skis? Basically they are classic style skis with a mohair insert at the base of the ski, which serves as a kick zone, with no need for kick wax or klister. The idea came in the late 1970s, but today it has become popular due to new technological advancements in ski construction and manufacturing process.
As an athlete, wax tech and coach, I love testing equipment and providing the best skiing experience for me as well as for those who share the same passion for skiing.
In recent years, I have been testing the new generation of skin skis over and over in various snow conditions, and I realize that skin skis are increasingly approaching classic skis in both the quality of equipment, camber and flex, as well as in skiing feeling and quality.
Some pros about skin skis are:
- ease of preparation and use of skis;
- works under the most varied conditions;
- possibility of adjusting glide and grip on models that have adjustable bindings, adapting ski fit for different snow conditions and terrains.
But we also have some cons:
- although working in different conditions, they are not as fast as classic skis;
- they still do not offer the same glide/kick performance ratio as traditional skis;
- ski fit can be a little more difficult to achieve because skin skis have a fixed kick zone, only having the adjustable bindings (when available) for glide/kick adjustment.
In my opinion, skin skis are great, but until now, nothing is better than preparing your glide and kick zones and having the feeling of an amazing kick and a perfect glide. Skin skis are not as technologically advanced yet, but we are literally striding, in the near future, to have the same performance as we have when skiing on our classic skis.
Just as the double pole technique, where until recently it was believed that it would not be possible to win a World Cup or a long distance race only double poling, I believe that if an elite athlete wins a long distance race by using ski skis, a greater popularity of skin skis will be immediate. Does anyone risk a guess to know who will be the first winner of a Visma Ski Classics on skin skis? Perhaps, Petter Eliassen, Team BN Bank, in Reistadløpet, Norway?