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XC ski travel: Any glide in unbroken powder?
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Andy F
(AndyF) - M

Locale: Midwest/Midatlantic
XC ski travel: Any glide in unbroken powder? on 01/04/2013 09:34:11 MST Print View

I'm somewhat of a beginner on skis. I have a pair of waxless backcountry skis, Rossignol BC 70's with a profile of 70/60/65 and length of 189 (the longest made). I can't seem to get any glide at all in fresh, unbroken powder, but I can when going back and skiing in my own tracks. This is with a fresh coat of glide wax. They're really not much more efficient than snowshoes in powder.

Will wider skis enable me to kick and glide? Should I look at skis 90mm or 120mm? Will they require more effort to kick and glide on existing track or to keep straight?

Edited by AndyF on 01/04/2013 09:35:44 MST.

Paul McLaughlin
(paul) - MLife
Re: XC ski travel: Any glide in unbroken powder? on 01/04/2013 11:20:57 MST Print View

In fresh powder, unless it's only a few inches of it, you won't get much glide on any skis. Wider will float you more, so you'll plow less, but you won't get much more kick and glide because now you have more surface area and thus more friction. I suspect you'd notice the downhill difference more than on the flats - wider skis are meant for downhill skiing in softer snow. As soon as the snow firms up, you will go faster and farther on your current skis than you would on wider skis. Longer skis will glide better than wider - going longer at the same width gets you more flotation without sacrificing as much glide, as long as the skis are the right length for your weight. If you are too light for the skis you won't have good grip; if you are too heavy for the skis you won't have good glide. Which length is right for your weight is different for each ski.

Your BC 70's should be a pretty versatile ski - just narrow enough so you can use them in prepared tracks, and not too skinny for off-track use. If what you are doing is poking around the woods in easy terrain, I'd stick with those.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: XC ski travel: Any glide in unbroken powder? on 01/04/2013 14:25:59 MST Print View

> I can't seem to get any glide at all in fresh, unbroken powder,
You just need a steeper angle!

But yeah, fresh snow can be slow. But why worry? Beautiful scenery.


Tjaard Breeuwer
(Tjaard) - MLife

Locale: Minnesota, USA
Still better than snowshoes! on 01/04/2013 19:55:42 MST Print View

It's still better than snowshoes, even if you aren't getting glide on the flat, you still glide on the descents and even on the flat you don't have to lift you feet up with every step.

Also if you go it's a group, as you noticed the people behind e trail breaker get to glide, so they still benefit!

Andy F
(AndyF) - M

Locale: Midwest/Midatlantic
Re: XC ski travel on 01/06/2013 21:58:50 MST Print View

Thanks all! Good to hear that I'm not really missing out on more glide.

Mark Montag
Technique on 01/07/2013 23:18:22 MST Print View

Beginners (and intermediates for that matter) of most new endeavors usually blame equipment for lack of progress - and of course each year we are reminded by marketing & sales of said equipment, that we need "this year's" new gear to gain that progress.

Without a definition of where & what type of snow conditions your powder is laying on (deep snow base - dry sticks & stones?) it's hard to assess how to recommend a technique for successful navigation.

Try this - get you butt down - lengthen your stride and forcibly push forward with your poles - long hard pole strokes & double poling in coordination with your kick ski. It's a big physical energy output - you may find you need a stronger base fitness.

Your skis are fine and the condition of the snow "is what it is" - powder today, ice tomorrow. More commonly a person's inability to master kick&glide backcountry/x-country skiing is lack of technique and fitness and may take several years to learn the flow & efficiencies.

Have fun & keep at it!

David Gardner
(GearMaker) - M

Locale: Northern California
Re: XC ski travel: Any glide in unbroken powder? on 01/08/2013 00:10:47 MST Print View

If you can, rent a pair of wide, short skis from a local (local to the ski area) backcountry shop and try them out for yourself. My personal preference is for fat skis because I'm not really going for speed on the flats. For climbing and telemarking down, short and fat is where it's at.

Jim W.
(jimqpublic) - MLife

Locale: So-Cal
Re: XC ski travel: Any glide in unbroken powder? on 01/10/2013 14:01:10 MST Print View

None for the first person (trailbreaker)
Maybe a little for the second person (track smoother)
Third person on it's a breeze.

Ideally, go with a group of four and trade leads often.