“It’s a myth that you have to wax your skis. It’s much better to use the positive glide properties of the ski base on your skis. Not only is it easier to ski, those going out for exercise don’t have to do the before and after work-¬they get more time on the ski trail and have more money left in their pockets,” says Leonid Kuzmin.
In January Leonid Kuzmin will be submitting a licentiate dissertation on waxing skis. The thesis presents information that represents a paradigm shift in skiing. Leonid Kuzmin has tested the friction between the snow and the skis and found that ski glide wax only creates problems.
He has been on this track ever since 1995. Leonid Kuzmin himself has a background a ski trainer and technician. At the Nordic World Ski Championship in Thunder Bay in 1995, when his wife Antonina Ordina took bronze medals, individually and in the relay, he chose to have her race on unwaxed skis.
“That was a turning point for me, and I realized that it was time to question established mantras about waxing.”
The ski running surface on today’s cross-country skis is made of Ultra High Molecular Weight Polyethylene (UHMWPE). This is a material that has extremely good wear resistance, a low coefficient of friction, and a good capacity for self-lubrication.
“That is why you shouldn’t cover this extraordinary material with an inferior material like ski glide wax.”
Leonid Kuzmin points out that all glide waxes gather dirt more quickly than do dry steel-scraped surfaces.
“One of the mantras you constantly hear is that you should apply paraffin to your skis to protect them from wear. But all reference works state that UHMWPE is five times more wear-resistant than carbon steel. That blows the mantra to bits.”
Leonid Kuzmin has carried out a number of experiments in the same ski trail with waxed and unwaxed skis. Using USB cameras he has examined how much dirt accumulates on the skis, and he has measured glide in other ways.
“The waxed skis glide slightly better from the beginning, since the ski wax reduces friction, but after just a short while the wax has gathered so much dirt that the waxed skis glide slower. In some experiments this occurred after only 200 meters and in others by 3.8 kilometres at the latest.”
Apart from the glide, Leonid Kuzmin says there is another reason to skip the wax.
“By only using a steel scraper without waxing, recreational skiers don’t have to waste valuable time at the waxing bench, and you don’t have to send your skis in to be stone ground,” he concludes.
At present the doctoral candidate and his colleagues at the Department of Engineering, Physics, and Mathematics on the Östersund Campus are busy developing techniques for glide tests.