Wheelhouse Blues


There’s a joke that a Rocky Mountain kick wax kit consists of a tin of Swix Blue Extra.  The funny thing about this joke is that it is not funny, it’s basically true.

I’m just guessing but for probably over 50% of any ski-able day in Crested Butte, a striding technique skier could put on a blue category kick wax and at least be in the neighborhood of decent kick–especially in the mornings.

For skaters or striders searching for glide, here are some recommendations, here.  For classic technique skiers in the January through February wheelhouse of the Rocky Mountain ski season, the below are all great choices.

Swix Blue Extra or Rode Super Blue.  Both are economical, simple, and classics.  The Rode is terrific in the high 20s, perfect blue conditions, and is free and magically grippy all at once.  Swix Blue Extra?  It’s the archetype of this category and word is, still used occasionally on the World Cup.

Swix VR40 is the “race” version of Swix Blue Extra.  It costs more but is worth every penny.  Its range is huge, down into green and up into violet on some days.  If one wanted just one kick wax, this would be a candidate.  I have a working theory that VR40–and its colder sibling VR30–work better in CB on days when there is a little more humidity in the air and in the snow than the normal blast furnace dry day at 9000’ above sea level.

Ski*Go HF Blue and HF Violet.  The violet of this pair is a bit of a misnomer.  As the tin indicates, its range covers a typical blue range.  Instead, Ski*Go distinguishes by snow type over temperature, at least to some extent.  As the HF Blue states on its tin, this wax has worked for me really well in older, coarser or granulated blue snow.  Boulder Nordic Sport, who imports the brand, has been really happy with these and other Ski*Go products and their ability to simplify an average skier’s wax collection down to just a few tins.

Vauhti K18 “Carrot” and K19 Blue.  Vauhti is a smaller Finnish brand imported by Caldwell Sport.  The “Carrot” (named for its orange color) is up there with the Swix VR40 as a wax that has a huge range and great properties.  Once in a while the Carrot can grip a little too well or cake in new, falling snow.  That’s where the “freer” or faster gliding K19 comes in.  It’s not uncommon to layer the two, the K18 Carrot for kick underneath the K19 Blue for glide on top.

Here’s a sleeper, Holmenkol Blue Spezial.  This kick wax has all the nice qualities of a good blue category kick wax but its grip is superb.  It may not glide as freely as the other waxes in this category but if you are, say, a beginner or someone who wants positive grip, try this wax for blue conditions days, it should feel like you could stride up a tree.

Check with the Nordic Center about purchasing these kick waxes.  Some but not all of them are in the glass case to the right of the counter.  Enjoy the skiing!