Tag Archives: Nordic

Start Grip Tape – Things I Like

 

 

 

Start Grip Wax – Things I Like

Classic skiing on fresh tracks on blue hard wax is the ideal day for everyone who enjoys Nordic skiing. Let’s face it—those days are becoming few and far between. The reality of warmer weather, busy schedules, and classic tracks hammered by those terrible metal-edged skis drives so many of us to just grab skate skis and go. Classic skiing is so fundamental, though, that it is important to practice it often, especially if you’re just learning. So rather than skip classic for the convenience of skate, why not Start Grip Tape?

Application

The instructions are pretty clear, but it’s a little nerve-wracking any time you have to deal with something completely new. Start has a fantastic video to make it easy. I applied mine in about five minutes—to warm skis in a warm basement—smoothed the edges as per the instructions, and put my skis in the box for the next day.

 

Less than $20 for two pairs of skis, for as much as 200k.

Too Warm

The temperature the first day I tried this was a balmy 42F. The range on the tape says it goes to 41F. After agreeing with myself that it would be a good day for a double-pole workout, I left without any alternatives. The verdict was, they kicked, but only if I had proper body position. I call that a win. Remember, I was outside the recommended temperature. The kick in really warm weather was akin to hard wax, although in some places where the tracks were in the shade it kicked like klister.

Middle Ground

The second time I took them out it was about 32F. Well within the range of the tape. The kick was klister-like and I had a fantastic day. More importantly, I did absolutely nothing to my skis since the last time I skied them. Nothing.

Happy Place

I haven’t been classic skiing long, but I relish it. With little kids, jobs, and other responsibilities I can’t guarantee I will be able to ski at 9am and mess with the wax of the day. Obviously, the best practice for classic is hard wax, but I have to think that some classic is better than no classic, which is the choice so many of us make when we’re in a hurry.

Since not every day can look like this, Start Grip Tape takes care of the rest.

Durability

The tracks where I ski are pretty abrasive right now. The surface of the tape has that orange-peel look of an expertly applied, very thin layer of klister. The difference is, this stuff is supposed to last up to 200k. So far I see no wear, and I plan to keep skiing these until I can’t. Bonus—my gloves have yet to become sticky even with accidental touches.

Cost

Some people have giant quivers. Cold, warm, klister, hard, rock, skins…you get the idea. I have “good” skis and “rock” skis. The rock skis have been broken and are glued together (pregnancy accident). That said, at less than $20 retail for a roll of tape—which lasts 100-200kms and can cover two pairs—I can’t find a better deal. Sure, we would all love to have a pair of those new skin skis, but until the piggy bank is full, this is an amazing alternative. Outfit an entire junior squad with mess-free skiing for the year for the price of a pair of skis, turn your old skis into a guaranteed fun time with no hassle, and best of all, add more classic days to your week. I wouldn’t stop there—if I was facing down a rough wax race day and was unsure, I would put this on a second pair of skis just in case nothing else was working.

Available at most fine ski retailers including Wild Rose Sports in Salt Lake City. There is also a HF version.

 

Because It’s There

icon_boards

 

 

Because it’s there.

When you ask most people what makes them climb Everest and the other giant peaks on this marble the answer is, inevitably, “because it’s there”. I raced the US Nordic National Championships (against most of the top collegiate and professional skiers in the country) for much the same reason; it was here.

Obviously with my 23 total race starts since starting this sport five years ago I was among the rookiest of the rooks. I also had the distinction of being the oldest racer by 7 years. Never mind the next oldest won by three minutes. I was one of two moms (that I know of and probably). The other mom also had her baby last year and had an awesome day, finishing 19th, and not from the front row either. Go Emma!

The race was on the 2002 Olympics course here in Utah, and the conditions at Soldier Hollow were a tad better than the big alpine resorts right now. It was way, way warmer than predicted, hence my waxing was a little off.

I knew going into the race that the lower you set goals, the easier they are to achieve. Ok, that’s negative. Let’s just say that you should set reasonable goals. I did. They were (in no particular order):

Finish better than last.

Finish without being lapped.

Ski well. In other words, ski without falling down.

Get a picture of my name on the cool Olympics status board.

20140108_123548

Jonathan’s only job during the race was to get this picture. Thanks honey!

Well, mission accomplished. I did all of those things. I ended up 60th out of 63 of the best in the country. There were probably hundreds better who didn’t show up, and for that I am probably thankful.

There were a few friends and industry folks out there yelling for me, even on the last lap. But one thing that really impressed and excited me was the number of complete strangers who cheered for me. By name. Ski fans who bothered to look at my number, check their start list and say my name. Of course I gave them plenty of time for research while I was crawling up some of those hills.

Behind every champion there is a team. And behind every old-ass lady in over her head at a huge event, there is also a team. So I’d like to thank the following:

Salomon – they have given me very generous pricing on boots, skis and poles. The boots I wanted because they fit my feet and are nice and stiff for great power transfer. I skied their awesome Soft Ground ski. They were perfect for the mashed potato-looking snow the women’s race skied on after the men and a sudden heatwave wreaked havoc on the snow and my wax job.

Skratch Labs – also gave me some generous pricing on their “secret drink mix” aka Skratch. Of particular importance to me today was the Hyper Hydration Mix, which in extreme conditions like 2500 ft. of climbing in a 20km ski race, kept me from having to take feeds and finish almost as strong as I started. Almost. But that’s not on them.

Bliz Eyewear – It was super foggy and humid today. Conditions that I don’t think would work with anything. The rose colored glasses I got from Bliz helped a lot with the flat light conditions on the downhills. Because remember, I didn’t fall down.

Bill Brooker – my wax tech in-absentia. This guy calls the wax from all the way in New York. Upstate. He is usually spot-on, and I believe he would have been today too, except that the temperature unexpectedly went up 10-15 degrees at the last minute. If I had taken my wax stuff to the venue I could have re-done it, but I didn’t.

My parents, AKA Grandma and Grandpa – they took care of M. while Jonathan and I were off at the races. And apparently they put up with quite a difficult toddler today.

Jonathan – my other half. He came to the race today for moral support, ski toting, water hauling and all around husband-ness. Usually we are both racing, but today he just came for me.

Not last, but skiing by myself. I just like to stay out of trouble!

Not last, but skiing by myself. I just like to stay out of trouble!

I probably won’t do another senior nationals unless it’s senior citizen.  I certainly won’t travel to one; maybe it’ll come back here and maybe I’ll be faster. Maybe not.  I am certainly thankful for the experience and for all those who indulged me in this, perhaps midlife crisis-type activity. It was cheaper than a sports car for sure (not much), and probably healthier.

 

And now that it’s pounding snow up high I’ll be taking the fat boards out for a spin on the chairlifts while I ponder my next aerobic adventure.