by Jack Cook and Patrick Moore
One of the common observations made about the success of the US Ski Team is the extent to which the service staff works together as an integrated unit. Although the staff is not large, there is a focus on a system, and U.S. athletes consistently have some of the best skis in the World Cup field.
Similar concepts can be applied to local or regional teams and clubs to improve your chances of ski-service success. By organizing the potential chaos associated with large teams and volunteer waxers, you will create an environment that is focused on the athletes.
Have a leader
Waxing race skis means that, inevitably, a tough decision is going to have to be made. As Colin Powell said, the role of a leader is “to cut through argument, debate and doubt; to offer a solution everybody can understand.” Strictly speaking, Powell wasn't talking about waxing skis, but the premise still applies! Ensure that someone is in charge.
Train your volunteers
On average, clubs tend to be short on professional waxing staff. Luckily, clubs usually have an abundance of parents milling around. By training those volunteers in wax application, you will suddenly have an army of available waxers. Host one or two clinics to demonstrate and have the volunteers practise application, remembering that consistency is key.
A major challenge faced by volunteer waxers can be the consistency in the marking of pockets on Classic skis. This leaves them guessing as to how much wax to apply and where it should be put. Develop a consistent system of marking pockets on Classic skis. In addition to the obvious front and end markings, additional information such as camber height and the location of residual cambers will help the waxers ensure the best combination of grip and speed. Insist that all athlete skis follow the system.
Names on skis
It sounds simple, but ensuring that athlete names are clearly written on the skis will reduce the chance of skis going out the door with the wrong person or not being completed on time.
The wax box for your club (both grip and glide) needs to be complex enough to allow for fast skis in any condition, but simple enough so as not to be overwhelming. Focus on adding additional waxes methodically and with a purpose, not just because a new product is rumoured to be the next big thing.
Test skis are a critical part of any waxing program. A well-matched set of skate and Classic test skis is an investment that will last for many years to come. Learning to test by feel using single skis (and perhaps confirmation from a testing partner) allows you to double the usefulness of your fleet. For example, a fleet of five skis allows you to test 10 waxes! The number of test skis is a delicate balance – too many and the fleet becomes unmanageable. Too few and the effectiveness is reduced.
The main goal of any service staff, whether club or World Cup, should be to produce consistent skis weekend after weekend. Controlling certain key variables will provide direction and ultimately support both the waxers and athletes.