Tips from a trail manager: prepping for the perfect cross-country ski day

Tips from a trail manager: prepping for the perfect cross-country ski day

Ready for a day of cross country skiing? Preparing your skis properly can make a big difference in whether you have a fun outing – or a frustrating one.

Peter Crooks, the trail manager for Kamview Nordic Ski Centre in Thunder Bay, has been cross-country skiing for nearly half a century.

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

1. Classic skis require both glide and grip wax

person skiing at pinery

Glide wax just needs to be applied 1-2 times a season. Get a professional at your ski shop to do it for you. You’ll need to apply the right grip wax yourself each time you go out on the trail.

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

person skiing in backcountry

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

3. Unless you’re a competitive skier, three grip waxes will see you through most situations

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

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

Ski equipment.

It’s the part of the ski that’s off the snow when your weight is evenly distributed on both skis – typically the middle one-third of the ski. If you bought your skis at a ski shop, they should have marked the wax pocket for you. If you got them at a swap/sale, you’ll need to mark them yourself. Use a felt marker on the sidewall.

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

If, after a kilometre or more of skiing, you’re not getting enough grip, you can re-wax with a warmer wax. Conditions can change quickly, so if you wax for “warm” snow and the temperature falls, you may be walking the trail!

6. Always carry extra wax with you

Cross Country Skiing

Take the wax you’re using and a warmer wax, as well as a cork to smooth it out after you’ve applied it.

7. Try waxless

If you like skiing in the spring when the snow is wet and warm, consider trying waxless skis. You’ll have a more enjoyable ski.

BONUS: The number one mistake cross country skiers make?

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

Sleeping Giant skier

“Don’t let anyone convince you that waxing is complicated,” he says. “In fact, if you’re starting out and you want to simplify things, just use Super Blue as your grip wax. It does the trick ninety per cent of the time.”

Ready to hit the trails?

Our parks boast 450+ km of cross-country ski trails. Check our Snow Report to find a park near you.