SkiTrax - - Contents - By Jack Cook and Pa­trick Moore

by Jack Cook and Pa­trick Moore

For­get ev­ery­thing you thought you knew about wax­less skis – skin Clas­sic skis are re­defin­ing the in­dus­try. This year, each of the ma­jor ski man­u­fac­tur­ers of­fer skin skis for Clas­sic ski­ing. For those Clas­sic skiers with fewer hours for prep­ping skis or for those who sim­ply do not en­joy grip wax­ing, the skin skis of­fer a time-sav­ing op­tion that pro­vides kick with­out sac­ri­fic­ing ski feel.

Clas­sic rac­ing skis with skins in the kick zone en­tered the mar­ket with a bang last sea­son, and in­stantly be­came a hit with World-cup-level skiers as well as Mas­ters and be­gin­ners. These skis are clearly not your tra­di­tional va­ri­ety of wax­less skis. Skin skis are con­structed with re­place­able skins in the kick zone, rather than wax base or fish scales.

Skin skis take the guess­work out of Clas- sic ski­ing. You don't need to ap­ply the cor­rect grip wax. These skis fea­ture a brand­new, in­no­va­tive skin made from mo­hair and ny­lon in the kick zone, elim­i­nat­ing the need for tra­di­tional kick wax, while still main­tain­ing ex­cep­tional glide, mak­ing Clas­sic ski­ing very user-friendly. The skis per­form well enough un­der a va­ri­ety of con­di­tions so you will not feel like you are los­ing out on per­for­mance.

The skin skis work in al­most all kinds of snow and tem­per­a­ture con­di­tions, from cold and dry to wet klis­ter con­di­tions, on rock­hard and icy tracks as well as vel­vety-smooth snow. And com­pared to tra­di­tional wax­less skis, there is ex­cel­lent glide and no rat­tling noise.

Skin skis also al­low the free­dom to spend less time in the wax room, which means more time on the trail – it's al­most as sim­ple as putting on run­ning shoes. In a time-crunched world, these skis might just be the dif­fer­ence be­tween com­plet­ing the week­night Clas­sic work­out on skis rather than al­ter­na­tive train­ing meth­ods or skip­ping the work­out all to­gether.

Lop­pet skiers or week­end war­riors out for their tra­di­tional Sun­day-long ski will find the skin skis pro­vide killer kick and out­stand­ing glide, while notic­ing that oth­ers' skis with tra­di­tional grip wax may de­te­ri­o­rate over the length of the work­out due to loss of grip and pos­si­bly loss of glide in dirt­ier snow con­di­tions.

In klis­ter con­di­tions, tra­di­tional Clas­sic skis waxed with klis­ter will start to pick up dirt from the snow through­out the course, mak­ing their glide even worse, whereas the skins re­main prac­ti­cally dirt-free and main­tain con­sis­tent glide over the course of your ski or lop­pet.

You can sign up for a lop­pet and not worry about chang­ing wax­ing con­di­tions and spend­ing count­less hours test­ing, se­lect­ing and ap­ply­ing grip wax, es­pe­cially in dif­fi­cult snow con­di­tions, mak­ing this wax­less op­tion look quite at­trac­tive.

Skin main­te­nance: If the skins get dirty, you can clean them eas­ily by us­ing reg­u­lar base cleaner, just as you would with reg­u­lar kick wax. Wipe the skins, brush them with a reg­u­lar ny­lon brush and the skis are ready to roll again.

If the skins be­come da­m­aged or worn out af­ter ex­ten­sive use, they can be eas­ily re­placed. They are at­tached with reg­u­lar hot glue, so just heat gen­tly with a heat gun, then pull the skin off and re­place with a new skin.

How do skin skis com­pare to Zero skis?: Zero skis were in­tro­duced sev­eral years ago for the tricky con­di­tions on ei­ther side of freez­ing. They come with a rub­ber­ized base ma­te­rial in the kick zone, which has to be sanded and fine-tuned to pro­vide op­ti­mal grip and glide for the con­di­tions of the day. They are gen­er­ally slightly faster than the skin skis. That is im­por­tant for those rac­ing at the elite level.

But un­like the Zeros, the new skin skis work in a much wider range of tem­per­a­tures and con­di­tions, from cold and dry to wet and warm. And you don't have to do a thing to them.

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