Monthly Archives: December 2016

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?


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.


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.


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.


Athlete Spotlight: Noah Hoffman





Athlete Spotlight: Noah Hoffman

(Reprinted from TUNA News, by Jen Santoro)

One thousand hours. For U.S. National Team and World Cup skier Noah Hoffman, that’s what it takes to be in the game. That’s nearly twenty hours per week of bounding, running, cycling, strength training, roller skiing and skiing—not to mention keeping a good relationship with all the people who support a ski career.

A child of running parents, Hoffman began running at eight. In his hometown of Aspen, running naturally led to Nordic skiing, and he became hooked on the social environment.

“I was involved in cross country running and all of my friends cross country skied. I got to hang out with my friends—it was purely social.” Hoffman continued to run through middle school, but as a high school student he was torn between soccer, tennis, and running.

“I tried to do cross country, soccer and tennis, but those are all fall sports in Colorado,” he says. “I ended up playing Varsity second doubles in tennis.” He soon found out that tennis is not the best dryland training for Nordic skiing. When his best friend qualified for Junior Olympics in Lake Placid and he didn’t, a fire was lit.

“I went from not training at all to five-hundred hours a year,” he explains, “and I was lucky to be in a sport where hard work pays off.”

Noah Hoffman. Photo Credit: Reese Brown

Noah Hoffman. Photo Credit: Reese Brown

By senior year of high school Hoffman had prioritized. He gave up soccer and tennis and worked out a deal with the cross country coach. He was able to swap some running workouts for roller skiing. Running about two days a week and on weekends he still managed to win the Colorado State Cross Country Championships.

“I had a great coach, and I feel like I was able to pay him back.”

From then on, it was Nordic skiing. Hoffman vaulted to the national level and trips to the U18 Scando Cup in Finland and Sweden as a 17 and 18-year-old.

“I got crushed,” he admits, “it was eye-opening, but it made me want more.” Hoffman didn’t give in. Perseverance paid off, and he had enough success as an U20 at World Juniors to be named to the U.S. National team.

Like every successful career, there are ups and downs. Hoffman is thankful the national team allowed him the time to find success, and that one down year didn’t ruin his chances.

“I didn’t qualify for the Vancouver Olympics in 2010, my first year as a senior, but I had success at the U23 Worlds.” That was the beginning of a breakout year in 2011 that put him in an unlikely position.

“I had a top-15 finish in a race during the 2011 Oslo World’s pre-camp,” he explains. “I hadn’t expected to be a World Cup skier that year, but I ended up there and then at World Championships.” He finished in the top 30 twice that year, cementing his spot as America’s current top distance skier. He also finally felt like he belonged at that level and has continued to race in Europe every year since then.

Having barely missed the national team criteria for an “A Team” skier, Hoffman has to rely mainly on the support of sponsors and the National Nordic Foundation. With two training sessions per day, meals, stretching, and sleep, he also has to make time for the administrative aspect of being a full-time athlete.

“People don’t realize how time consuming and how much work it is to solicit funds,” he explains. Hoffman has his own personal sponsor in Thoughtforms Builders, a New England-based builder of custom homes. He also relies heavily on the National Nordic Foundation (NNF).

“The NNF is the vehicle the community uses to support us,” Hoffman says. “We could not be doing what we are without what they are doing. They are a reputable and safe organization doing the legwork.”

That support has allowed Hoffman and the rest of the team to have increased support in the last few years. He credits this new level of professionalism with the sudden increase in podium results for the U.S. Nordic team in recent years.

“There’s no more ‘spaghetti dinner in the neighborhood’ for fundraising. Having the money for a competitive wax staff with the ability to do it right, it’s crucial,” he says, “and NNF has made it possible to have an incredible wax staff.  Every additional tech we have brings it up.”

Hoffman also credits coaches Jason Cork and Chris Grover with the program’s steady improvement since 2000.

When he’s not training, Hoffman is well known in the ski world for the relationship he keeps with the public on his various blogs and social media outlets.

“I feel so much more connected with the skiing public than my European counterparts,” he says. “They can’t believe how public we are with our training and all that, but we have to be role models because that’s why people support us. It has value, even though it’s challenging.”

Although his family is still in Colorado, Hoffman has based himself in Park City for most of his professional career.

“I have been in Park City since 2009, so it’s my seventh summer here. Not only does it have everything—Center of Excellence, mountain biking, roller ski trails, etc.—it is also my training environment.” Hoffman regards Park City as an “office” of sorts, and associates it with hard work, while home and family are his time off.

Hoffman chases a national title in 2015. Photo Credit: Reese Brown

Hoffman chases a national title in 2015. Photo Credit: Reese Brown

A focused athlete who sees skiing as an opportunity for more than just competition, Hoffman relishes the ski community and its people.

“Not only does skiing open doors to the obvious things like seeing the world or college, or learning about yourself, there is another aspect that drives me—the people are amazing. They’re uniformly smart, passionate people, my best friends in the world.”

With what skiing has taught him, Hoffman plans to eventually move on to other things in the future. Those plans run the gamut from mathematics to behind the scenes in the theater. For now, though, he is putting the finishing touches on his most demanding training season yet. He leaves behind some sage advice for the young skiers who are lining up behind him.

“Stick with the things that make you really proud of yourself or excited.” For Hoffman, that pride comes from training as hard as he can and believing he is the fittest athlete.  No matter what the source of pride for an athlete, he advises, “always have something to hang your hat on.”

This article originally appeared in the TUNA News, December 2016.