Bad-Winter Notes & Impressions
This winter has been marked by some of the worst snow conditions in memory, nationwide. The industry always struggles in bad snow years, and we feel very fortunate to be dedicated to the relatively stable racing sector. Racers are die-hard – prepared to spend money on equipment, travel and racing; so spending a little more on travel, and chasing themselves in circles on short loops doesn’t seem to dampen their enthusiasm much. Two or three winters in a row like this might end up really hurting, but this one has been more revealing than painful.
Why revealing? Bad snow means a lot of skiing on old, transformed or manmade snow. When we set-up our color scheme to describe conditions we felt it was necessary to pay some special attention to this range of conditions, and so we put in a violet category to cover transformed and manmade snow. Good timing!
L2-0 – With a poor snow year, and a lot of racing on transformed or manmade snow – we’ve had the perfect set-up world-wide for a lot of “violet” conditions. Predictably, under the circumstances, our L2-0 and L2-0S have been enjoying some good success. We’ve seen these grinds run in bitter cold on manmade snow, and in Kuusamo Kris Freeman raced on his in a squalling rain storm. The temperature and moisture versatility of the grind in transformed snow has been excellent. The grind was used by pretty much everybody who had one at US Nationals, and chalked up some great results, thanks to some great racers.
S1-0X – If there was a question-mark in the grind line-up heading into this season it was S1-0X, which we felt had a fairly specific and narrow range in new-snow “blue” conditions. Well, maybe it does, but it has seen a lot of success this season, both domestically and internationally. Most notably, Jessie Diggins used this grind to win qualifying in the Moscow city sprint World Cup, and went on to finish 6th in the rounds. A thrilling result, and one of a few very high water marks for our grinds. The feedback on this grind has been great, and we’ve also seen it do well in the cold end of the violet range. Tad Elliot used this grind when he won the National Championship 15K skate on colder manmade snow, shortly after using the same skis (and grind) to take World Cup points in brand new cold snow in a 30K skate in Davos. It’s all about picking the right athletes…
Fischer 115 – For several years we’ve felt that the 115 construction ski from Fischer had limited usefulness compared to the 610. This year, the same factors that have contributed to the success of L2-0 are making the 115 ski a very valuable tool as well. Part of this is simply based on understanding – as Sylvan Ellefson found at US Nationals in Rumford, a good 115 ski with an L2-0S is a real asset in manmade snow. Sylvan used a pair of 115s in both skate races there – a ski he hadn’t used since his college days – to finish 3rd in the 15K and 4th in the sprint, and earn the Nor-Am leader start-rights for the final World Cup period. He wouldn’t have taken them out of the bag unless we had specifically identified those conditions for the skis.
Now that we’ve identified violet conditions as something to prepare for, and set it aside from the blue/red continuum, we’ll probably bring in a handful of 115 construction skis for next year’s inventory. If nothing else it should guarantee that we have a wonderful snowy winter, relegating these nice new skis to the back of the ski bag!
Madshus 102 – We’ve been excited about the cold classic ski from Madshus skis for a couple of years now. Madshus has really nailed the balance between strength and shape in this pocket. This ski has been the foundation for Noah Hoffman’s development in the senior ranks into a great classic skier. As a junior he was known for his skating, but at a World Cup level he’s had his brightest spots in classic. Relaxed kick and great speed are what everybody is looking for. It sounds so simple – but you can’t compete if you can’t move easily, and you surely can’t compete at the World Cup level if your skis are slow. Noah took his first World Cup points this season in a 15K classic in Otepaa, on an extremely hard course, with a pair of Madshus 102 skis. Cool stuff, but that’s not the story here.
What we continually need to find for our customers is a ski that works well in both hardwax and klister conditions. Wet snow is pretty specialized, and for great skis in wet conditions you really need a dedicated wet klister ski. But most racers, even at the upper ends of the collegiate spectrum, need something to handle hardwax, binder and klister-covered conditions. Even cold klister will often get thrown into this mix. For this purpose the Madshus 102 has been almost like a formula. A ski that is easy to kick in extra blue, but also has the pocket integrity and shape to wax full length with cold klister and have great running speed. We’ve seen these skis really shine in the violet conditions we’ve had so far this winter.