What skis to buy?

Mike from Edmonton sent the inquiry below. In addition to weighing in on Mike’s question, this would also be a good time to discuss the relative merits of waxable vs waxless skis for new skiers who are wondering what to buy.

Hi I’m up in Edmonton and waiting for some snow. In the meantime I’m researching and shopping for some new classic XC skis. I’m wondering if you could point me in the right direction regarding some topics.  

My current skis are waxless classics . They are of a parabolic cut, somebody told me that’s not the correct term . Instead they call them Side Cuts Skies . Regardless , mine are now 4 years old and well used. So I’ll keep them as rock skies. There cut numbers are 52-47-49 from the tip. So that’s the only ski I’m familiar with , and yes I’ve enjoyed them. But I’m looking to get some new classic skin skis. But not sure whether to go with a Side Cut or a Straight Cut set.  Yes I know the straight cuts will be faster, but the side cuts will give me better control when I step out of the tracks when going downhill. In hilly terrain.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Sidecut on nordic skis is opposite to that of downhill (i.e. nordic is wider in the waist and may/may not be narrower in the tip/tail). Straight-cut skis track better than those with a bit of shape in the tip or tail.

    If you consistently step-turn the corners on downhills, then a straight-cut may be the way to go. If you slide your turns, might want a narrower tip at minimum.

    The three main skin ski players offer the full gambit (tip-waist-tail) – your choice will boil down to how you turn:

    Salomon: 44-44-44
    Fischer: 41-44-44
    Atomic: 41-44-41

  2. Hi Mike,
    Unless you’re shopping for traditional wood skis, most of the xc skis have some variation of a “side cut”. Both classic and skate.

    I suggest you don’t focus as much on the exact side-cut measurements of your skis like you would for the downhill skis. Skin skis are awesome, however you will be sacrificing some of the speed for the convenience of the “furry” kick zone. If you don’t care about little girls zipping by you on the downhills, go for skin skis! What you loose in extra speed, you gain in the convenience of not waxing.

    In contrast, waxable skis is the “gold standard” and with basic waxing knowledge you can use them with success in all weather conditions. Since you live in Edmonton, you will frequently have colder weather, which is much easier to wax for than temperatures that hover around zero.

    • Hi Dasha

      Thanks for your insight , but ( here’s the kicker lol no pun intended ) . On the subject of just classic skies . Some brand new ones at the retailers are straight cut and others are side cut . There most be some pros and cons to both choices , I’d like to hear from others including yourself.

      Now regarding skin skies , I left out my other views on my research so far . I’ve also learned that if I’m going to go with the skin skies , that I’m also going to go with the nnn bindings with the 7 position plate on the ski . That will allow to change the skies to different camber settings ( more or less grip, as disired for the specific conditions ). Also I’m hearing that there is a tape the can be placed down the centre of the skins to also reduce friction, ( who’s the speedy gonzella now lol . And the fact that the skins can be replaced is appealing to me at the moment . And if the youngsters still blast past me then all the power to them and myself for getting outside for the win win .

      Now regarding waxed skies , this is not a knock against waxed skies . Initially I was thinking of getting 2 pairs of skies , one pair of skins and one pair of waxed . But at the moment I’m focusing on the skin skies and which setup will be best for myself .

      To go with a side cut or not , and to get the multi position nnn binding setup is the big question for myself .


      • Mike,
        Like many well-seasoned skiers I too have accumulated several pairs of Nordic skis that get used based on early/late season, needles/slush, immaculate tracksetting versus skier-set, etc. At this point I have 3 sets of classic skis… and am debating another pair… All are NNN, and I can honestly say I’ve only changed my binding position perhaps 3 times total over several years.

        I’ve been running the Atomic Skintecs and absolutely love their performance but they are not a do-everything-well ski. Their success lies in their convenience and flexibility in variable conditions which includes pine-needle-mania. Note however that you do still need to take care of the bases and apply glide with appropriate waxes periodically. If they have the appropriate camber for good glide you will find your kick suffers (good technique is key); similarly if you want exceptional kick then your glide may suffer as Dasha points out.

        That said, however, not all waxless are created equal. Performance also varies as conditions vary significantly throughout the season, and none of us can presume your technique/ability level. Waxless have their strengths as do waxable, there is certainly an overlap. So my impression, based on your question and followups, is that you may be focussing on a relatively minor detail that is one of MANY variables. Choose a good overall ski (or several pair of skis) for your ability, typical types of terrain, and typical quality of tracks and you will enjoy your season.

        Hopefully we can all be enjoying some tracks here within the next week or two.

        • What a wonderfully thoughtful answer considering that Mike didn’t mention his level of skiing, or the terrain he likes to ski.

          RichieRich, I have a question. In the one scenario where the skier is too heavy for the skintec ski, so that the end portions of kicker material continue to rub the snow, would the material at some point begin to wear away?

          • Henry – I cannot answer from personal experience but I would presume that is possible as friction is abrasive. That said I know I would have changed my equipment long before that point.

            Actually my old rock skis don’t have much camber left and so my kick wax wears down resulting in rewaxing every 30-45mins. It’s a pain so I don’t use them too often and instead use either my waxless or waxables which work better. Have to bring the right tool out… so when in doubt I just bring all my skis out with me and decide upon arrival or even mid ski I have switched.

      • Mike,
        You are right about picking sidecut for maneuverability and straight ski for faster glide. All of my favourite skis have sidecut, even the skin ones.

        Go with NNN bindings for sure. The adjusting of bindings on NIS plates is a good idea. Besides, SNS bindings are being slowly phased out (http://skitrax.com/salomon-debuts-the-new-prolink-bootbinding-system-at-jeremy-ranch/), which in turn will become a limiting factor in your choice of ski boots, as more choices are available with the NNN bindings.
        Good luck and see you on the trails!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *