Sunday, March 30, 2014


The members of the UAA Ski Team already know this about me, so there will be no new news here for them. But for the readers of this blog who haven't spent a bunch of time at ski practices with me, I'm going to reveal to you what it is that I've been ranting to the team about for years; the topic that many a UAA skier has probably gotten tired of hearing me keep harping on, and here it is:  The best athletes and the best coaches think outside the box.

History's great skiers weren't afraid of doing it their own way. Bill Koch won the overall World Cup by committing to a full summer of skate ski training in a year when nobody else quite had the guts to go completely "waxless". Gunde Svan talked about his concept of "skiing fast, slowly". The great downhiller Bernhard Russi said, "On those old downhill skis, we found that as you went faster and faster, it got bumpier and bumpier until you were getting thrown all over the place.  But I found that after a certain point, if I went even FASTER, everything suddenly got very smooth again.  So that's what I did."

If we want to be better skate skiers, maybe we should take a look at speed skaters.  If we want to produce more explosive power, maybe we should look at baseball players or boxers or javelin throwers. If we want to be better ski waxers, maybe we should try ironing some corn flakes onto the skis just to see what happens (or maple syrup for Etienne)...  In short, we should not be afraid to try new things!

Sylvie Kastning has been featured on this blog several times in the past, and the reason I like writing about her is because this is a young woman who has her own ideas about things.  She loves ski jumping and she loves waxing skis, and she does it her own way.  She "ski jumps" in her living room, launching off whatever high piece of furniture is available into a pile of pillows and cushions on the floor. She's been doing it ever since the Olympics last month.

It's obvious she's the daughter of two ski coaches.

This is the same Sylvie who was caught applying Swix Purple hard wax to the glide zones of her skis. I had my doubts about that technique, but you have to give her credit for trying it.

And the last time we checked, Sylvie was brushing the bindings on a pair or Rossignols.  Now I like to think of myself as someone who operates within a pretty wide envelope of creativity, but I have to admit that it didn't occur to me to cork and brush the ski bindings.  It was pure brilliance on Sylvie's part, and now Andrew, Nicole and I always make sure to give the bindings a good corking and a final pass with the fine nylon brush before considering them race-ready.

As a general rule, Sylvie comes up with all the new ideas around here, and the coaches have been implementing pretty much all of her ideas in our waxing. It's always an advantage when one of the members of your waxing team is a true innovator. Having only been on God's green earth for a few short years, Sylvie sees things from a fresh perspective.  She's unfettered by tradition.  She's not stuck in the rut of using the same old methods and coming up with the same old predictable results.

But it looks as though her recent potty training has sparked new waxing ideas.  It looks like Sylvie is taking her waxing innovation and methodology to a whole 'notha level!

I will simply say this:  When I was young, I always wondered why Swix Purple didn't smell like grape and Red didn't smell like strawberries.  I always thought waxing would be more fun if kick waxes had corresponding smells.  But my thinking is evolving regarding this topic.

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