Why you should warm up to hot waxing BY JACK MOORE
FORGET THE COLD. Heat may be the extra ingredient you need to land
on the podium this season. It has the power to melt race wax deep into ski
bases — rather than just sitting on the surface — to deliver greater speed
Here’s how heat, and the power of thinking in threes, can improve your
Three Winning Reasons to Hot Wax
Deep wax penetration has three benefits.
First, it makes ski bases more water-repellent (hydrophobic) to better
combat friction created by moisture in the snow.
Second, it allows full exposure of your base structure to help bust drag-inducing suction created by water that forms underfoot when skiing.
Third, it protects bases from drying out (oxidizing), which reduces their
ability to absorb wax. These factors can all add up to more speed under
Three Winning Ways to Bring on the Heat
1. A cork block (made of natural cork or synthetic foam) or a Wax Whizard
(cylindrical aluminum tube with a fabric covering) are the most basic and
economical tools for melting wax into ski bases. First, crayon a thin layer of
race wax directly on the base, then rub it in by hand using one of these tools.
Apply lots of elbow grease to create friction and heat as you bear down,
since the more energy and pressure you use will determine how warm —
and therefore how deeply — the wax will melt and penetrate into bases. At
a minimum, continue rubbing until the base looks dark, glossy and smooth.
This application method will usually provide adequate wax durability for
one or two race runs.
2. Hot waxing with an iron is the preferred and most popular method used
by most racers. Use the iron to initially drip wax on your base, then heat it in
(like ironing clothes) by moving the iron slowly but steadily along from tip
to tail. Stop when the topsheet of the ski starts feeling warm and your base is
completely covered with a melted layer of wax. This application will usually
provide adequate wax durability for at least two race runs.
3. Hot boxing is the most thorough (and expensive) way to wax. Race skis
are first hot-waxed using an iron, then placed base-up in a large box (or
thermal bag) for two to 12 hours. The interior heat of the box is determined
by both the type of wax and length of heating cycle in order to keep the
wax in a near-molten state. This also warms the ski, enabling the base to
open and absorb wax deeper, but not overheat to cause ski or wax damage.
Hot boxing can provide greater wax durability, making it better suited for
long nordic ski races (longer than 15 kilometers) or multi-run events like
ski cross, snowboardcross, or technical snowboard races. Teams and factory
race departments also hot box to help prep stacks of speed skis. In fact, the
Rossignol factory has an entire room designed to hot box dozens of World
Cup speed skis simultaneously.
Three Winning Letters to Remember
W, S and B stand for wax, scrape and brush — a time-proven formula that’s
critical for winning results. Always follow any wax application with scraping
(using a plastic scraper) and brushing (brass, nylon and/or horsehair brush)
to remove all excess wax from the base surface. This also exposes and pol-ishes the base structure — patterned recesses (like tread on a tire) that break
up unwanted water suction underfoot.
Three Winning Reasons to Let Your Skis Chill
Always allow freshly waxed bases to cool before scraping and brushing. Race
bases tend to “squeeze out” some wax during this contractive phase, depositing unwanted excess on the base surface after your scraping and brushing
efforts. Letting wax cool and harden after application also allows it to set
up and establish a better foundation in the ski base for greater durability.
Lastly, scraping a warm ski will actually pull out too much wax. While this
is an efficient technique for cleaning dirty bases (called hot-scraping), it will
not leave enough wax in the base to propel you to one of the top three places
on the podium!
Jack Moore is the founder of Tognar Toolworks ( tognar.com), a worldwide purveyor of ski
tuning tools and waxes.
Hot Box Services
If you don’t find a hot box at your
local ski shop, here are a few that offer
hot boxing by mail. Prices run about
$30 to $50, depending on the wax type,
number of hot box cycles, etc. Call for
Drip a liberal amount of wax.
Hot wax can result in hot
times on the hill.
Tuning guru Willi Wiltz scraping.
Use a hot wax iron to initially
drip wax on your bases.
Edgewise Stowe, Vt. Call Graham
Lonetto at (802) 253-8883
The Waxroom Ketchum, Idaho. Call
Curtis Bacca at (208) 720-0704
The Fifth Season Mt. Shasta, Calif.
Call Leif Voeltz at (530) 926-3606
Start Haus Truckee, Calif. Call Mike
Vaughan at (530) 582-5781