Classical skis differ from touring skis in width and speed. They are designed for groomed trails, and used for fitness, training and racing. They come in both wax-able and wax-less models. The long-term enjoyment of your classic skis is dependent upon having a ski that flexes properly for both grip and glide.
Ski Width Determines Stability/Speed
Race skis are generally in the 44mm to 45mm range in width. Efficient fitness-oriented classical skis are in the 46mm to 51mm range. In widths that overlap in both classic and light touring skis, classic skis will have longer lengths allowing them to track better, as well as offer more speed. Light touring skis are shorter, more maneuverable, and many times have more sidecut. Both are excellent choices and it may come down to what you are used to, and your expectations. Usually, a beginning skier will choose the more maneuverable light touring version.
Ski Flex Testing Determines Grip and Glide
Next, for both wax-able and wax-less skis we flex test at the skier’s half weight to determine the grip zone on a wax-able ski, and the glide on a wax-less ski.
Wax-less ski flex testing: A digital flex-tester is used to determine the characteristics of a wax-less ski. We flex classical race skis for both hard wax and klister conditions. Hard wax skis have longer and lower bridges than klister skis. Sometimes these correspond to “Cold” vs. “Warm” skis, but that is not always the case. For a universal ski that can be used for both hard wax and klister conditions, we will use a stiffer flexed hard wax ski.
Wax-able touring ski flex: For all wax-able skis we use the skier’s half-weight to map out a grip zone which helps us determine if the ski is too stiff or soft. We mark the bridge (gap) at .1mm, .2mm and .3mm (if necessary) to determine how many layers of hard wax are needed on certain portions of the ski. We also mark the .4mm bridge for the klister zone if the ski has a high enough bridge.
The red lines are meant to represent the layers of wax needed on certain portions of the grip zone. The blue line is a gap between the bottom of the ski and the testing surface at the skier’s full weight. This area is called residual camber, and it needs to marked and addressed with additional wax for effective kick.
Wax-less Touring Ski Flex Testing
With wax-less skis, we look at the bridge at half-weight to see how much of the pattern is off the surface for effective glide. We have found that the most important characteristic for most skiers is to have the ski compress fully at the skier’s full weight. This characteristic allows for effective grip on uphills and a more relaxed kick in variable terrain. At full weight if there is residual camber on a wax-less ski, the grip/kick will be difficult on uphills and we will look for a softer ski.