Ski equipment - the basics.
• Lollipop skiers need 1 pair of waxless classic skis (classic skiing only). Get real skis with real bindings, not the kind that strap to snowboots.
• U8 (Grade 1/2) and older will want skis for classic and skating (it's fine to start with classic-only, but most new skiers want to start skating by mid-winter). Two big choices:
1. Combi skis vs 2 pairs – Combi skis are used for both classic and skating. Sounds economical, but switching between classic and skating will take work. You’ll need kick wax for classic, and will need to clean and glide wax the skis for skating (skating on kickwax is no fun). Practices and festival races will generally alternate between classic and skating. If you can find a pair of cheap used skis (HFL Ski Swap or within the club), you'll be happier with separate skis for classic and skate.
2. Waxless vs waxable classic skis – “Real” classic skis use kick wax for grip, and waxless use serrated fishscale bottoms. Waxless are slow but easy to kick – a good choice for beginning skiers and reasonable for Grades 1/2. Anyone in Grades 3/4 (U10) and older who's serious about skiing should consider waxable skis – it may take a couple practices to jettison the bad habits formed on waxless skis, but after that the extra speed will make classic skiing much more fun. Parents new to waxing? Don’t worry, we can help. (And you might keep an old pair of waxless around for the occasional wet/warm days when waxing isn’t as easy).
Rock skis - as you get older and buy nicer skis, keep the old ones around for less-than-good conditions (or find a cheap used pair if you have younger sibs to hand your good gear down to). Extends the life of your good skis, and great for jumps.
Ski bags and ski ties/sleeves - bags are a huge help when schlepping your family's skis/poles, and when trying not to lose them amidst a mass of other equipment (see photo at right). Ski ties or sleeves hold a pair of skis together, and protect the bases by keeping them from rubbing.
Ski sizing: Pretty forgiving for younger kids - classic skis should generally be a little taller than you (reaching anywhere between the top of your head to your wrist when reaching your arm overhead) as you, and skate skis reach between the eyebrows and top of the head. For the very young, even shorter is fine.
For kids 10 and up who are getting serious about racing, ski fit gets more nuanced-
read more about choosing skis that fit well.
• Lollipop and most Grade 1/2 need 1 pair of classic-length poles.
• Grade 3 and up will do better with 2 pairs – classic and skate length.
Pole sizing: when standing in shoes on a hard floor,
· Skate poles should reach the upper lip or nose
· Classic poles should reach the top of the shoulder or just below.
-Experienced skiers may prefer slightly longer or shorter. Remember that poles will feel shorter when standing on skis and with pole tips sunk into the snow.
-If you’re going to use just one pair, pick classic length. (Some stores sell adjustable-length poles, which are heavier and can collapse while skiing if you don't tighten them frequently. Buyer beware!)
All skiers can use 1 pair of combi boots – skate/classic boots with sturdy lateral ankle support (for older kids these have a hinged plastic ankle cuff, for younger are generally stiff high-top boots without a cuff). Older skiers serious about racing will eventually get different skate and classic boots, but not necessary for BKL. Thanks to recent boot/binding innovations, a few things to pay attention to:
• Make sure your boots are compatible with your bindings! There are 2 binding systems:
- NNN (“New Nordic Norm”) is what most kids in the club have and is the standard for virtually all new equipment . Compatible boots: Alpina, Rossignol, Madshus, (newer) Fisher and Salomon Prolink. Compatible binding systems - NNN, Turnamic, Salomon Prolink.
- Salomon Nordic System (SNS) comes in Propulse, Pilot, and Profil versions (newest to oldest) that are not all interchangeable. Many Pilot boots fit on Profil bindings, but not vice versa - check before you buy. Used with Salomon or (newer) Atomic boots - these generally have "SNS" stamped somewhere on the sole. (Do not confuse with Salmon Prolink boots/bindings, that are compatible with the NNN standard).
• Make sure your bindings are compatible with your skis! Traditional bindings screw into traditional skis. Most newer skis are built with NIS or IFP plates - plastic plates bonded to the top of the ski. NIS style bindings clip onto the NIS plates without drilling or screws, allowing some fore/aft adjustment (IFP is the same, just a different brand). NIS bindings are removable enough to move to new skis as you grow/upgrade. Junior bindings are slightly cheaper than adult, and good for those < 70 lbs.
• Don’t kick it old school. Old-fashioned 3-pin bindings and accompanying duck-bill boots should stay in the attic (except for maybe a very young beginning skier, but don't buy this stuff new).
E-Z Ski Swap Strategy
If you're looking for used equipment at the HFL Ski Swap (or a good strategy wherever you're looking for used gear):
• Go early. Get there before 9:00 and line up, used gear goes fast.
• Find boots first. Good fit is most important with boots, and used vs. new boots are the biggest savings. Boots using the NNN system will be easiest to match with skis/bindings, but SNS can be done. Don't get duckbill / 3-pin boots.
• Then find skis. Skis for little kids are fairly forgiving as far as fit - generally classic skis should be a bit taller than the skier, but shorter than an arm reaching overhead. Skate skis between the eyebrows and top of the head. For kids < 10, most skis without fishscales could be used for classic or skate.
• Bindings and poles last - these are the least expensive if you end up needing to buy them new.
Further details to make your head spin