Lake Tahoe’s second round of spring time has begun however the snow coverage is still excellent. Tahoe XC seems to have the most snow they’ve ever had this time of year which means stellar skiing.
It seems that most people here tend to favor skate skiing when they Nordic ski here in Tahoe. I’m not sure why. The classic or striding technique gives all the benefits of skating and also can IMPROVE your skate technique and efficiency! It’s also a great option for those mornings for when it has been snowing all night, the snow cats are still out grooming, and the tracks are soft and punchy, no fun for skating.
Many people who stride either have put the time in to learn the in’s and out’s of kick or grip wax or use waxless or fish scale skis. Waxing takes some practice to learn to get it right and when it’s right it works excellent and far better than fish scales; tons of glide with solid kick. However many people just want to get out the door and go and not fuss with waxing so they use waxless skis. Waxless skis are great for convenience but the scales drag causing a loss in glide and also never quite give the nice kick that wax can give.
Nordic skiing in California has one thing that a lot of other places don’t have, a lot of sun, and with that sun comes warm wet snow and guess what? Klister wax conditions! Those familiar with klister know that it’s sticky and messy and unless you have the proper temperature applied it’s no fun. But with the right klister you’re golden and it works great! Once again though many people just want to get out and go. Well a new ski is here that solves the downfalls of waxless skis and kicks and glides like (or better than) klister.
Enter the zero classic ski. These were used throughout the Olympics when the wet humid conditions presented very difficult waxing, similar to here in California, right around freezing and above. Zero skis are essentially a waxless kick zone on the ski that forms hairs rather then a fish scale pattern. These hairs can be manipulated with different grit sandpaper in order to rough up the kick zone and make them stand up. General guidelines are coarser grit for more humid snow, i.e. wet, heavy snow. Finer grits for aggressive snow, i.e. snow with lower humidity. The small pattern of hairs gives a solid kick in these “California conditions” and gives far greater glide than a fish scaled ski.
All the major Nordic ski companies are producing their idea of the zero ski. Differences in kick zone length, materials, and of course ski construction will vary as they do in all skis. Currently most companies have a zero ski available however they are the top of the line race stock ski and quite expensive. Next season however Fischer is producing their ever popular Fischer Superlight classic ski in a zero model which will be far more affordable than the RCS model that is available now. This is an excellent option for the enthusiast that doesn’t want to break the bank.
The zero skis seem to be an excellent option for our warm wet snow here in California. A significantly higher performance ski than a waxless model, but with no fuss of kick waxing sure seems appealing. Interested in trying them out? Tahoe XC has a few sizes of next years Fischer Superlight Zero mounted with Salomon Profil bindings (these will work with Pilot or single bar Salomon boots). Stop on by when the conditions are such that you wouldn’t want to classic wax and give the zeros a spin!