Thu. Dec 7th, 2023
Tips from a trail manager: prepping for the perfect cross-country ski day

Ready for a day of cross-country skiing? Properly preparing your skis can make a big difference in having a fun or frustrating outing.

Peter Crooks, slope manager at Kamview Nordic Ski Center in Thunder Bay, has been cross-country skiing for nearly half a century.

Here are his 7 best tips on how to “read” the snow and use the right waxes for your classic skis:

1. Classic skis require wax for both glide and grip.

person skiing and pining

Slip wax should only be applied 1 or 2 times per season. Get a professional from your ski shop to do it for you. You’ll need to apply the proper grip wax yourself every time you hit the trail.

2. Check the weather and snow conditions before you head out.

person skiing on backcountry

Generally speaking, if the snow falls like powder when you pick it up, it is “cold” snow. If you can make a snowball easily, it’s “warm.” And if the snow is difficult to accumulate, it is “ideal.”

3. Unless you are a competitive skier, three grip waxes will help you in most situations.

Use green wax for “cold” snow, red for “warm” snow, and blue for “ideal” conditions.

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4. To wax a classic ski you need to know where the wax bag is

Ski equipment.

It is the part of the ski that is out of the snow when the weight is distributed evenly on both skis (usually the middle third of the ski). If you bought your skis at a ski shop, they should have marked the wax bag. If you got them in a trade/sale, you will need to mark them yourself. Use a felt marker on the side wall.

5. Always wax your skis on the “cold” side

If, after a mile or more of skiing, you don’t get enough grip, you can re-wax with a hotter wax. Conditions can change quickly, so if you wax for “warm” snow and the temperature drops, you might be hitting the trail!

6. Always carry extra wax with you

Cross country ski

Take the wax you are using and a warmer wax, as well as a cork to smooth it out after you have applied it.

7. Try without wax

If you like to ski in spring, when the snow is wet and warm, consider trying waxless skis. You will enjoy skiing more.

BONUS: The number one mistake cross-country skiers make?

Not applying enough wax. Peter recommends putting on three good coats and smoothing each one out before applying the next.

Sleeping giant skier

“Don’t let anyone convince you that waxing is complicated,” she says. “In fact, if you’re just starting out and want to keep things simple, just use Super Blue as a grip wax. It works ninety percent of the time.”

Ready to hit the trails?

Our parks have more than 450 km of cross-country ski trails. Check our Snow report to find a park near you.

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