lørdag 19. mars 2016

Ski Season 2016 - Goals for Next Year

Just reading the results for today's Birkebeiner ski run and fellow Brit Andy Musgrave comes in just behind the leading group to secure a top ten place over the 54 km race.

At the other end of the sport where i am - fun &  firtness - in comparison i managed about 62km all week....all be that in soggy lowland conditions.

My conclusion on this year's season in two parts is that it has been pretty dire, soft conditions. Lacking a foundation layer from early winter is the issue, with big dumps making for soft edges.
In truth i wiuld have been better off dedicating the season to purely skate style, given the broad and harder packed mid lanes - despite classic being the predominant style and of course, the big classic distance races remaining so top, two of three of the local clubs drive the tramlines way too far out on the edges where the machine weight doesn't press enough beyond the towed weight, so the skipoles stab into indeterminate snow.
I prefer classic. It is more varied and i feel more power can be put down. Skating seems both lighter but more challenging on breathing and concentration. Like rising a fixie bike with say a 42-17 lowish ratio- you have to keep it going , side to side, side to side....however i am starting to feel i can use more power from my legs in skating, and my coordinatuion has become much better.
So i would say that given a short winter with 'mild' conditions again, I would stick to skating and avoid frustration with my skintecs. Given early snow and a "blue wax conditions" I would opt to train up for a 40 or even 50 km classic ski run, either one of the official ones or something with friends like the Nordmarka railway trip, or some circular route up on Hardangervidde or in Vinje.
Skating comments and goals 2016 - 2017
1. Concentration practice.
I find the metronomic motion a little irritating especially when my skis seem to fight a natural rhythm by having variable glide. I am getting much more of a feel for this though, as well as applying more power outwards from my driving foot.
2. Sidedness
I have as most skiers do, a right side dominance in terms of driving off, and have developed correspondijngly, better feel foe glide duration on my left.
I am going to fix this by
a) more double dancing, which forces even sided co centration of effort
b) circling practice - as per keith nichol's youtube nano lesson on this
c) no poles with concentration on left side glide to drive from the ball of the foot and extended glide on the right.
3. Warm Up and Breathing
I need to crack how to warm up comfortably on skate skis, and then also on effective breathing under way.
4. Duration
I want to extend the duration time wise by just getting used to keeping on going at a lighter pace for much further, aiming to do 10 km non stop - we have a training route here which is undulating yet not steep on the main section auch that you can always leg skate or parallel double pole, thus never getting a tucked downhill breather in softer conditons. I want to aim to do 30km on skate skis.
5. Speed
Speed means technique, power and interval training.
6. Roller skis- Roller Blades ?
More on this below
Classic 'kick' Skiing Comments and goals
1. Follow through to glide ski weight down
This is the critical thing and I think i have over exaggerated it , actually with the net reault that a relaxed run in diagonal kicking goes much bettr now end of season even on my ancient gravel and slush planks. It should be quite a fluent move with the weigjht not coming down unil infront of the other side's shoe - with a slight swing of the hip forward-  however not to overcook this as I have done recently. The mid ski will touch the snow around boot level time, but weight is not on it until a little further forward.
2. Duration and fitness
Stamina can be worked on. I think my speed is fine and can just grow with my fitness and ability. But stamina needs to be worked on. This means longer runs at the weekend and some medium hard one hour sessions ayt night after job.
First this needs to be time oriented - in combination with number of rounds. Then distance can be a goal in a given time to hold the tempo up.
Both Styles
1. Downhill skills and confidence
I am still bailing out too often and need to learn more yet also just go back to what works for me- a wide, grand slalom stance out of the tramlines.
Christy stops and general agility , being able to plough from varuioius stances to save the day.
2. Dry season training.
I always have november and now decemebr stuck between bike ( salt on roads and icey side roads and forrest tracks) and skis. I got a frozen should building up to elg hoofing early winter so have to look at this. I need to run in the woods and build this
Up pre season while avoiding injury.
Roller blades or skis are a real option to explore now. Baby steps first.
This year I am beating all the pensioners round the usual courses in classic and catcing them up on skate skis. The next step is to train maybe with better guys to challenge myself, or even get instructon. I feel my fitness is never good enough until about 8 weeks into the season, which means these years, peak at the end without stretching it much further on.  So i need some more intense sessions in Nov December and a reasonable consistent bike training theoiugn the aummer months.
I also need a new traoinijng buddy who is more serioius than either of my current pals
Ready for the new too.
The next thing of course, next year, or maybe even later this year, is getting my fjellski out and buying boots for them. There after? Hytte tur and maybe randonne skis. And back to snowboarding?

fredag 18. mars 2016

Snow Business Closes for The Season

The ironic coincidence is not lost on me that today i took my final training run on waxless, c 1979 jumble-sale skis while the mini birkebeiner today was won with a goodly margin by Skinstad on Salomon skin skis....apt name too!

The weather forecssters got it wrong - today it should have become steadily more cloudy and then colder, but the sun burnt away the light cloud and the wind which came was quite mild and dry. This all happened as i parked up on a roadside pile of snow, hoping i would be able to drive out later as the sun began to beat down!

I decided two rounds at around 13.2 km total would suffice, and opted for skating style on my ancient jumble sale skis. They are Trak  "winner" model with a fish scale pattern which must be a full meter of the ski - but the scales are shallower in the leading 20 cm. The whole effect seems to be as good if not better than modern , shorter "3D" machined angular textured grip zones, and i reckon they glide much better while not losing anything much in adhesion against them.

In any case they glide damn well enough for skating progress without any cursing about noise and jittering. They are about 50mm wide with very little side cut (in swing) and about 205 cm long with quite a soft, long camber. Ok my Madshus Ultrasonic are miles faster, but I am not going to hit gravel on them, especially when grinding down a deep track in the softest snow. The 50mm wide skis float better on the slush, while being less jittery on the ice.

"Awefully variable conditions today" said the guy who often drives the piste machine. He is a pensioner with immense stamina, but today cracked him- he had fastmed himself to a pair of Atomic Skintec's in a narrower verson it looked like than mine. Fairly useless on the icey sections which followed the shaded parts of the forrest road like a hand in glove of course. The route was about 60% hard- like concrete, while the sunnier slopes were more  like the freshly poured consistency of cement.

Skating gave me an really good work out and also i was able to practice my two weak points - timing/weight transfer and breathing. Glide was very variable as was edge adhesion, but I was able to get enough feel of it and also keep to a rhythm, modifying it slightly for good glide strokes or 'braking' type ones. Also going over to double dance and paddling with a change in tempo and style as required.

I practiced a bit without poles and also was conscious to use them a little less so as to feel the effect of the three body movements- extending the bent leg out, pushing up and risong off it and then transfering weight to the new ski. The skis had a lot of 'float' on the softer stuff, but little edge on the ice- it meant exagerrating the edging in paddling up shadowy hills. The slush sucked power out, but it was quite rewarding to get up some of the hills quicker than in diagonal kicking. The ice defeated me some times, while other attempts suceeded in really quick ascents. I tried diagonal a few times in the slush and the skis did a good job!

I elected to go a third round, bringing the tour up to just under 20 klicks. This round sucked me of stregnth but I was determined to keep up skating as much as possible and avoid any breaks or reversion to classic. The snow was melting now, and in some of my deeper cuts on the sunnier slopes it had turned it's own gangrenous grey - crystals dissolving. The icier parts had a glaze of water on top with the mild wind now blowing. After some paddling hills, I went over to baby steps double dance just to keep going as the sweat ran into my eyes.

I drank the rest of my water and felt the delicious cooling of the stronger breeze which filled in as I turned back on myself to complete the last homeward leg. About half way back i lost interest in rhytmic dancing, did 100m diagonal  and decided to take some scenic photos. The route has a 600m mostly uphill start, usually including a fair bit of fiah boning so this is to be avoided on the repeat circuits when it gets icey. My piste machine compatriot had chosen discression as the better part of valour and walked down it. I decided as this was likely the last trainin tour of the season, to ski down it, and took plough and half plough to negotiate the steep hill with bend at the foot, as my own better part of valour.

The run back down to the main road was fast after this and i needed a good anchor plough to brake up in the icey 'kick off' zone at the very end where folk trample about with skis on. Skis off i jogged back to the car. 70km last week, just under 60 this week. A seaon I can put behind me with some degree of satisfaction on both fitness and technique in both styles.

torsdag 17. mars 2016

Loppemarkedski Challenge

Kuldegrader overnatt skapet nye forventninger .....kanskje det blir fortsatt kystnær skispor ?

Jada. Det var bare et sted hvor solen hadde spist ned til grus og det var kun spor på en side. Ellers var der en spnn yin og yang dag, is i skygge og nesten slapps der solen nådde godt.

Og skiene....de var jammen bra !

Ta deg denne utfordringen - en tur til Smestad Skoles loppemarked eller et som helst kirke sin, eller fretex og skaff deg et par "gidder ikkje smøre....bryr meg ikkje om de blir rivet i stikker" ski. Kanskje støvler og, men ellers sjekk at bindingen fra 1979 passer dine nåværende.

Hvor er utfordringen vel i å skli rundt på et par treski med billig fiskeskinn plastsåle og myk spenn ?  

Det ligger inn å få deg ut i møkka före uten at man skylder på klister og glider jobben..... Å få det mest ut av gamle ski når man må føler på nytt hvordan teknikken din teller mer en utstyret.

At myk spenn gir trå ski er ikke helt sant for vanlige skigåere. Alt er i forhold til alt annet- topp utøvere nå kan stake sin vei 7 mil og opp en helvetes bakke til slutt i Marcialonga' n. Men de er under 70 kg og trener 8 timer om dagen. "Klister ski" for amatør skirenn utøvere er blitt en must, med hardt spenn som holder klisterlomme ovenfor baken før det må godt trykkes ned. Høyde i festesonen gir best fart er mantraet.

Men det er mye å si for nokså myke ski for en vanlig mosjonist. En god klister eller vox smøring skal være tynt og tåler litt juling. Tåler egentlig hoftene og knærene dine så mye press for å få fraspark over 4, 5,6,7 mil skirenn? Ikke å tale om hundrevis mil trening i løypet av et par store sesonger. Ski som man blir mer sliten å gå på og som påføre mer slitage på ledd er ikke ne bra idee for amatører.

Lengden i smøresonen hjelpe med balansen mellom ski som gir feste og ski som glir bedre. Mykere ski skal ha en kortere festesone og man kan eksperimentere med et par lag på 'toppen av pyramiden' av mykere vox eller klister når föret er fast. En del av festesonen foran og under bindingen skal reise ovenfor bakken selv om på 'myke' ski i utforkjøring altså dette skal bety at "lommen" midt under foten glir når vekt er bært på et ski i diagonalgang.

Jeg mener at en foeholdsvis myk ski kan prestere selv om på harde, klister före dersom man vil gjerne benytte mye diagonalgang og dobbeltak-med-fraspark. Her må man finne ut hvor lang smøresonen kan være og hvilken klister funker og om man skal ha mykere klister midt under foten. Viktig er det at man får en progressive kontakt under fraspark og får føle hvor my tak man har i bakken før man gir maks krefter. Viktig også at 'retur' foten svinger lett fram på en lav vinkel og tar også en progressive påføring av vekt. Vi snakker om brødeler av sekunder her men en hardere ski gir jo bedre glid men man får et brått fraspark. Dermed må man kanskje ha lengste mulig klistersone for å gi feste når skien presses hardt og brått ned. Så tar det også noen millisekunder lengre for vekten på den nye glidende skien å gi et stabilt kontakt med bakken.

For topp utøvere kanksje blir myke ski for mye av en kompromis. Men for amatører som vil gå lengre skirenn mer enn 4 mil og i Norge det betyr alltid vesentlig stigning og varierte snøforhold, er mykere ski noe å vurdere. Særlig når före skal inkludere noe myke strekninger i høyde eller på andre side av fjellet der mest nedbør fremkommer. Med nysnø fallende eller drivende over gamle spor så blir smøringen en større utfordring enn spenn i skiene.

Nå kommer vi tilbake til gamle, smørefrie møkka ski for trening ved slutt av sesongen i slappsete og isete drita-spor. Man finner fort ut at teknikken gir veldig mye med hensyn til hvor mye krefter vi kan legge i frasparket og hvor langt fram den nye skien kan vippes før det glir. Feil fører til grovere straff og fremgang viser seg betydelig.

De bråker som faen på de isete staking strekningene og utforkjøringene. Litt bredere var disse type skiene fra 70 og 80 tallet, slikt de tåler myk underlag med bedre oppdrift enn smale trenings-racings-ski og de har en større overflatelse med mønstre på som kommer i kontakt med bakken. Så kan man også skøyte på mykere underlag som er gøy- mønstre på sålen og gamle skår i skiene hjelpe med bortføring av vannet og bryting av sug.

I år har de to mest gøyale treningsturene blitt på disse teite skiene. Jeg følte avslappet. De hadde nesten alltid nok feste og var stabile og flytende i det myke strekningene. Selveste padling gikk veldig bra på moderate motbakker. Jeg hadde ikke noe angst for dårlig smørings kunnskap eller å treffe stein med mine nye skintec ski. Det plager meg veldig at disse to solrike treningsøkter - enn siste gang snøen nesten forsvunnet , enn nå i det påskesolen smelter den knall raskt- står som de minste frustrerende og mest tilfredsstillende i sensongen. Men det sier mer om både sesongen med sin mangel på fundament i skisporene, og mine egne innstillinger.

søndag 13. mars 2016

On the Wrong Skis ?

I do feel like I have been conned a little and on the wrong skis for five years now.

I got a pair of light tour skis, which are Fischer Power Wax 2009 model I think. I always thought I would get the benefit of the slightly broader ski with side cut, but in fact they were the wrong skis for me!

When I was working in Kristiansand I soon noticed that the type of keen, fitness skier had most often as good skinny skis as the Birkebein condom kledd ski-geeks. Even folk over 50 and pensioners had narrow, straight racing and training skis. Oh yeah at the weekend you see masses of folk with steel edge 50mm wide telemark/mountain skis, planking along, some pretty quickly. But on a cold wednesday night with the sun setting and the headtorches bobbing around in the tracks, I saw 90% skinny skis.

Now I know of course there is a good reason for this - folk like going in the prepped tracks and the same as a racing bike versus a more sedate town bike, the narrower contact area and the lighter, stiffer ski puts more power and traction down....to a point. In new 'kramm' snow, wet and aired, my old blue skis excel and I reckon they are pretty good downhill out of the tramlines because they float better and steer better with leaning and weight alone than a straight-skinny-ski.

With all the icey conditions around Kristiansand in the cold winters of 2012 and 2013, with thawbacks and also a huge amount of traffic, the rock hard tracks have eaten into my plastic edges on the fischers. I did look into getting a pair of Fischer Steel Lights which are a training ski, skinny, with 3/4 length steel edges (now apparently discontinued but still in stock several of the larger outlets no doubt) but they were always a bit of an investment and anyway I was taken with the idea of Atomic Skintec since their launch about 5 years ago.

The fischers I have and their comparable skis from most other manufacturers around the 50 - 48 mm max width, are probably ideal for semi prepared tracks with a lot of new snow and following tracks which have been trodden by other skiers. They are not broad enough for deeper, soft snow while they are perfectly at home in hard worn tram lines at the other extreme, and like clister. I would say that they are though a compromise and that you would be better with a light pair of tour and fell skis like the BC 45 or the Åsnes Nordmarka which have steel edges but a shortish camber. They may have the same dimensions, but the steel edges mean venturing out into hardened spring snow on the virgin mountainsides is very acheivable.

The reverse then is true of getting "skinny " skis- you limit yourself to nicely groomed tramlines and mid lanes. Ask yourself this though- will you ever really do those longer tours out of the tracks or when there is a risk for lots of new snow? If you live near prepared tracks then skinny skis are lighter and faster, and I would say follow your learning curve better than tour skis because you can really pick up the pace on the skis as you improve.

I have seen some big fellows who make me look rather, ahem, petite, out on 212cm racing skis with all the gear and a big wax case in the boot of their car. However if you intend going a lot with a heavier pack or a 'pulk' (pulled sled) then you really want to look at getting a set of mountain touring skis to support your weight and engender better turning and ploughing.

I found in the firmer conditions that my new 41-40-40 training skis were much easier to keep a pace on with and sprint up hills on. They felt stable in double poling too, and I feel I can work on my weak spot, double pole with single kick, better than with heavier, broader skis. In the cycle world equivalent it is not quite the same as going from say a Hybrid / Town bike down to an 18C racer bike, more like a 32C down to a 23 C continental like I used to run on my handbuilt racer- not too much pressure and enough stability that it all works nicely. Soft, wet snow then is the equivalent of mud, so on those days you are going to dig in and slip with skinny skis, or catch edges in the mid lane downhill as I discovered- they dig in and suck down!

I can't say I was mis-sold the tour skis I got a long time ago now -I got the right pair given the description of what I was looking to do with them, my weight and my ability then.  I just did not really think about what I was going to actually do with them, and opted for a compromise.

fredag 11. mars 2016

Skin-Skis .....Take 3....and it's a wrap !

Finally an overnight freeze and I could try the Atomic Skintecs out for camber tension in double poling conditions, and see how much grip there was in icey tracks.

This week has thrown all that would be unusual for Atomic or any other ski-house, at me. First new, wet snow and rising temperatures then a freeze back. Really conditions the skin was not designed for perhaps, but also conditions which are almost impossible to wax correctly on the 'right' skis. In the soft, the snow was too wet for hard wax yet too soft and granular for clisters. In the hard, it was wet enough in places for a 'red' or 'silver' clister while the harder areas needed blue ice clister. For me a good universal clister job today would have lasted only about 15km, and I racked up about 25km without thinking about more than water breaks.

So we have to seperate out a few things here

1. The Mohair skin
2. The camber tension
3. Conditions
4. Technique and weight of skier.

1. The skin ..... And 2,3,4 also....

Any skin's grip varies with the length & width of it, the snow base its on and any treatments such as glider or anti-icing.

Mohair skins in full legnth will climb anything, but being about 30 - 40 cm under the camber sole on all these new class of skis means that there is quite a finite amount of grip relative to 2,3 and 4 !

In other words to get to the performance of the skin alone, you have to subtract the other factors, including your own skill or style , which means you either need a comparable pair of non skinned or you compare to your 'best ever skis and wax job'.

So my personal opinion and summary on using Atomic Skintec is-

1) the skin's limits are new snow over 1 cm in the tracks; very soft, wet snow; glazed, icey tracks. Here you get bad traction.

2) the skin seems to waterlog in warm conditions, and ball up just a little bit in 'zero' conditions.  Sprays or glide Treatments may help. It both looses traction and glide imho when it gets waterloged

3) camber tension - to race or be really satisfied throughout the season, nyou probably want a softer pair and a pair which are quite hard. Atomic SDS gives an edge here.

In the hard conditions i felt the camber was great for double poling, but i had to press pretty hard on anything icey in diagonal to get ashesion. Downhill i could rock back weight onto my heels to get more speed and lose the little skin-noise there was. Hey, i do this with a clister job or in slower conditions on wax skis.

One odd thing which dawned on me after a few days, like a kind of double take, was how far forward on the ski the skin sits- from a mid ( clister ) forward mark back to only around  the ball of the foot I dare say you could clister back to the heel on the bare ski and get some much needed traction on polished - icey uphills !

So my conclusion - it sucks living near the coast if you want to enjoy an easy life of xc skiing !  The correct length and camber skin ski will give any skier less to worry about in well prepared tracks which are firm but not icey. They bust universal clister, but are not as grippy as red or silver clisters and on pure ice, blue clister.

Atomic Skintec- Meddommeres Kjennelsen.....

LPEndelig var det klar himmel og noen minus grader kunne omgjøre skisporene fra grøt aktig drit til noka "robust" före. Litt for hardt egentlig. Men då fikk jeg teste atomic skintec både i altfor blaute og altfor isete føre i det samme uka.

Kjennelsen er .....bra !  208 utgaven med innlagt felle har en god spenn for meg...stivere ski enn disse med karbon SDS motstand skulle skape vanske med feste trolig. Dette var bekymringen- at spennet var ikke nok pga elendig glid jeg erfarte på myke underlag.

Utforkjøring gikk strålende...joda det kunne forekomme litt virring og hissing fra fellen men det var mindre støy enn med et par vanlige ski smørte bra med klister- då samler man ofte iskrystaller på motbakke som bråker og bremser i utforkjøringen.

Staking var jeg fornøyd med aug. Jeg følte ikke at fellen hindret fremgangen i de harde sporene. Bare min egen teknikk som begrenser optimalt 'bevegonist' fremgang.

Diagonal gang var uforutsiktbar. Feste er alltid litt vanskelig i omdannert, hardt pakka sne. En gubbe med Universal på sålene klaget veldig om det. Jeg hadde mye bedre glid enn ham i dag også. På selveste 'halvbratt' som man kan suser opp når dert er blå vox eller lilla, ble umulig å få feste på. Kun ei lite dame med utrolig bra teknikk fikk en beskjeden fremgang på motbakkene, og hun gav seg etter to runder på det 6km løypet.

Jeg hadde sett flere Skintec brukere seint is sesongen i fjor når det var en del 'zombi' sne som ble omdannet mange ganger med temperatur og maskinfresing. De slet veldige i sporene og klaget om feste på midtbanen. Sånn er det ....de har sine begrensinger og dvs kanksje omtrent det samme som universal klister - når man bør gå over til en mykere klister i det blaute,  eller bruk isklister for tak og utholdbarhet.

Konklusionen er - sesongen er noe dritt med snø som var både fyllt med luft og litt for varmt når det kom på nytt. Ellers med skiene å gjøre, løp og kjøp !  Finn en utgave fra en av de mange produsentene, som nå lager disse pels bunna ski, som har riktig spenn for deg og din teknikk. Får målte dem på spennmaskinen i butikken og sjekk at de er veldig nøye med plassering av bindingen.

Dobbel sjekk spennet er ok ved å stå på paret med  støvlene på og få ansatte til å utføre papirark under smøresone prøve- det skal glid fram til foran fellen og lengre bak fellen. Bruk en tusj for å markere hvor fellen ligger under skiene. Ikke betal for skiene før dette er utførte. Hvis mulig få en retur avtale dersom spennet og feste virke feil mhht dine tidligere gode par smøreski.

Husk at en 40cm med pels ikke kurerer alt som er ondt - løse føre , blaute føre og iaete føre vil ikke være noen særlige bra, men det er ofte heller ikke så bra for smøreski - feks nysnø på beinharde spor eller slike 'svampete' og blaute forhold vi erfarte tidiger i uka.


Ja vel, nå er det gått 8 mil på mine Atomic Pro Skintec 4000 så lenge. For augeblikka leter jeg etter nye oppdrag eller en stilling og dermed har endelig både tid, skiföre og fine nye planker med pels under.

8 mil på noe av de verste påske-aktig-före jeg har opplevde. Blaute, svampete spor som ble til betong noen dager. En mye bedre idee å øve på skøyteskiene mine. Men å gjøre et kupp med disse interessante lange plaste ting med hårete midtsåle førte til så mue prøving og luring om.....

Jeg må skille ut mange faktorer med hoved lure-punkter er da

1. Er felle litt slit , eller föret så dårlig?
2. Er smalere ski mer vanskelig for meg på myk underlag ?
3. Skal jeg bare lære meg å gjøre bedre klister-jobb og skaff gode vanlig ski?

Jada, isete före er dårlig for klister-jobb også - jeg får kun 15 km ut av et bra belag universal eller litt lengre kanskje fra blå. Man fort glemmer at klister smøring ikke alltid gir bakglatt frie tur.

Myk före - det er alltid frustrerende for meg på krammsnø - jeg er tung og graver ned i det. Nysnø ofte kladder på hardvox og nysnø på hardespor med klister er ille.

De beste dagene har antakelig vært mye bedre feste enn mine gamle, halv-bred turski, og glid er bedre i harde spor uten at man ligger merk til lyd særlig - det er en sikkert tegn på at man trenger en stivere skin-ski.

Jeg bør innrømme at forholdene har vært nesten like krevende som mulig for testing av nokre nye ski som helst!  Jeg har holdt fart med og kom meg vekk fra andre mosjonister jeg gjenkjenner i løypene. Jeg har ikke sett at noen andre tar flere enn to runder på treningsløypet våres, som er da cirka 18 -20 km, mens jeg utførte 4 runder på fredag uten å få særlig skader fra glatt spark som jeg ofte får i slike harde spor som det var.

Skintec har sine grenser og et feil matchet par vil straffe eieren med dårlig glid mer enn et smørbarski ville.

Jeg tror største fordelen blir i skiftende føre når dagen blir enten litt varmere eller kvelden senker flere kuldegrader på bakken. Overgang blå vox til lillac og tilbake vel. Kanskje også grønnvox, gamle føre når det er kaldere enn -10 på en stund.

På andre enden av skala er skin ski klart bedre enn rød vox og dekker en del brukaområser over til universal klister når det er fortsatt litt tak i underlaget og det ikke er isete. Vi får veldig mye skiföre med beinhardt underlag her på kystnær løyper på Sørlandet, og det takle klister litt dårlig og uten et uønsket påfyll etter et par mil.

Nysnø er tydeligvis problematisk for skinski når det er flere minus grader- kanskje noe spray eller vox kan hjelpe til med slikt?

Ideelt da for skirenn uten at det forventes nedbør, og særlig da temperaturen vil variere utover dagen eller med stigning på løypet. Så også ideelt for ferie på hytte da man gidder ikke ta av en rødvox jobb når nestedag skal vise en stupende termometer.

Oppdatering take-two

Nå er det bare bite litt under 10 mil på Atomic Skintec !

Hva kan jeg si ?  Jada, det har vært en litt av en møkke sesong for å få nye ski av noen type som helst.

En kompis hadde hørt om Drivheia rundt og så kjort vi i to timer dit i dag, varmeste dag i Mars siden 2012. Skikkelig påskeföre var det med slapps i sporene men de hadde blitt litt fastere på veien oppover. Han med en parkeringsplass rød-klister jobb, jeg med rengjort felle og glida' skintec.

Min feste på skogsveiene var minst like god som hans, og glid var mye bedre enn hans fischer trening-tur ski på cirka 48mm brede. Ved stigningen ble det våtere og dermed fikk han litt fordel med feste men gliden ble enda bedre på mine ski, uten at de bråkte.

Föret ble mykere og mykere desto høyre vi steg. Då slet jeg med å trekke ned nok på skiene for å få pressa felle i den blaute snøen. Jeg tipper at et ski med mykere spenn (kalde ski} skulle ha presterte litt bedre.

Noe som stemmer med at disse skiene har mye spenn, var at de var ikke verst i "off piste"'n - De fant et behalgelig dypde i snøen og oppførte seg ikke som fjærn(spreng) . vi fyrte opp en nokså enormt bål 50m fra løypene for litt før-påske hygg mens svetta rant ned fra panna mi. 

Utforkjøringen var total tull med lyng og berg pekende ut mange steder, noen 'litt på kanten' snøbro over bekkene og flere omveier. Underlaget var uforutsiktbart - noe var nokså rakst, andre helt tilfeldig strekninger var 'svampete'. Skiene oppførte seg veldig bra og jeg kunne skøyte litt for å manøvre i det graut aktig dritt.

Det er da 4km med skogsvei hjem og det var blaute og kramm og enda verre drita före , med sporene lagt altfor langt ut på kantene ( luksus skøytebane til bekostning av dem som ville trene staking og diagonalgang før Birken). Stavene forsvant dypt ned eller fant bakken mange ganger. Skiene føltes igjen som de hadde altfor mye spenn.

Jeg tipper at Swix eller Madshus 'skin-wax" skulle ha hjulpet til i dag. Kanskje fellen ble "waterlogged" og det harde press jeg måtte utføre var egentlig for å presse ut vannet før fellen kunne fungere. I allefall, jeg tror ikke min kompis hadde det så mye bedre. Han lå bak meg hele 3 km.

Föret var mykere enn ideelt, men vi Sørlendinger har fått mye luftig og litt blaute påfyll snø de siste tre sesongene i februar-mars, på toppen av lite eller ingen tæle og gamle snø-underlag. Det blir fort til veldig harde løyper også når mildere vestlandavær trekkes inn og deretter flere kuldegrader stiller opp.

Jeg skulle gjerne ha en uke til med kystnær påskeföre men det blir bare noen få dager igjen, og enda mer tull med barmark, berg, bekk og grus som gror ut av våre kortlevde skiløyper. Då skulle jeg prøve skin-wax og kanskje litt rilling av glidersonen for å sjå om ski-prep' gir litt bedre prestasjon.

Dårlig føre for fellen er da fra mine erfaringer veldig harde og det motsatt- veldig myk före, mens andre på internettet påstår at de er dårlige på kald nysnø.

Gode före for disse Atomic skintec 4000 2013 modell skulle være :

- faste blå og selveste arktis grønne före
- overgang blå til lillac og lillac til røde hardvox - særlig med usikkerhet om temperaturen eller stigning underveis.
- faste men ikke isete före når man går fra rød vox til universal klister
- når man har et faste underlag men med tining i sporene ovg går over til røde eller sølv klister. Tipper skinvox hjelper her.
- fattig mans zeroski- tipper dette blir bra ved bruk av skin wax.
- alle harde vox gamle förer når man gidder ikke smøre!

Nå, et par ski med felle og en titanium system for variabelt spenn med en skrue eller lever.....det skulle noe !

torsdag 10. mars 2016

Atomic Skintec - Noka Bra eller Ikkje ..?

Jada, nå har mi, meterslukkende bevegonist, fått meg et par Atomic Skintec til en latterlig brukt pris under tusen lapp. 208cm men er de lange og stive nok for en man som har så veldige og fine knoggler som meg, 115 kg på 189cm høyde-over-havet?

Jeg har hatt tre tur på disse skiene nå og er mektig imponerte over feste og glid i diagonal gang....samtidig er jeg forelsket i noka som ingenting har med pels på såle å gjøre- de er helt fantastiske i utforkjøring !

Oppsummeringen - skiene er basert på en nesten proffnivå treningsski i utgangspunkt, med karbon sidevegg støtt som gjør at skien er stiv til og med det gir seg i nedtrykket ved frasparking- step-down-system SDS. Vi har hatt myk underlag i løypene siden snøen kom på nytt for en uke siden, og man merker med en gang at dette er ikke enntilgivende myke par ski. Nei man må konsentrere seg for å få riktig tyngde ned i starten av fraspark slikt fellen engasjerer seg godt med underlaget. I nylig preppa snø på fjellet med 2 plus grader i lufta, og i den kramme snøen nærmere hjemme fikk jeg cirka 10% bakkeglatte fraspark men det reduserte vesentlig når jeg bestemte meg å konsentrere meg om fraspark med beina rett under vekta og så å senke ambisjoner for diagonalgang når det blenlitt bratt.

Skiene gav vel best glid under diagonalgang i flat og lett terreng. Men det var helt elendig under staking, og litt vanskelig å få nok trykk ned i bakken for dobbeltak med fraspark - som er mer med meg enn skiene å gjøre antageligvis. Så snart skiene fikk litt fart under dem i utforkjøring ble de veldige tilfredstillende med bare lite grann lyd fra fellen. En imponerende stabilt og kontrollerbart ski som er lett å få kanten inn på snøen, step-turn, ploger og selveste skøyte på med litt fart.

Fellen er ganske langt fram på sålen i disse pro skintec 4000 som er fra 2013-14 sesongen, den første utgaven med spor og lim løsningen som er enklere enn den med magnestiske utskiftbar felle. . På fjellet var det lite gran ising på fellen og de har vært bløt ned i dalene noe som kanskje gir litt dårlig feste samt glid. Fellennsaitter langt fram i festesonen og når ikke bak mot helen som virker litt rart. G-Sport hadde målte disse 208 skiene på maskinen for tonår siden og for min ubeskjedende vekt var det knapt nok spenn for å holde fellen i luft lommen under glidfasen. Men dette ikke helt stemmer ? - det er lite lyd fra dem, og jeg slet med feste !

Nå har de kommet ut med en ny utgave kun i 208 lengde som er stivere, men hvordan skal jeg få nok feste i myk undelag da vel ?  Jeg synes egentlig at feste er litt daårlig pga de nokså blaute spor og at en liten dose et eller annet flørinerte på fellen skulle fikse mye av dette. Jeg tipper at G-Sport hadde rett, fordi jeg fikk helt elendig gang med staking. Stivere ski med noe magiske kjemi i fellen er veien fram.

I dag var det fullt påskeføre ned i dalene. Kramm snø og mange plus grader i luftet. De drittsekene i løypemaskinen hadd som de pleier å gjøre - dessva' - lagt klassiske spor langt ut på kanten av skogsveien, med et skøytebane man kunne lande en 747 på så bredt var det! Stavene forsvant ofte på utsiden og til og med en apor gjorde det samme som om det skulle skulke og la seg i grøfte for å unngå jobben!  Staking da var elendig uansett skitypen. Dobbeltak med fraspark ble my bedre i dag og en del koknsentrasjon i diagonalgang lønte seg med fraværende bakkeglatte spark. Man kunne jogge opp de bratteste motbakkene i stedet for å ta fiskebein som min kamerat med en lang klister jobb måtte nøye seg med for å få fremgang.

Han er en liten og sprekk bestefar som konkurrete for Minnesota delstat langrennslag i sin ungdom. Under 60 kg veier han !  Han har gode Fischer treningsski og hadde noe sølv klister med rødt pålegg lagt på da vi oomnut av bilen. Han fikk elendig feste til tross for jeg tror en 80cm klisterjobb ! Glid var bare litt bedre enn min i utfor' og var likt ved staking men jeg hadde mye bedre glid i diagonalgang.

Lyden er ikke noe å tenke deg om. Kompisen klaget litt om en politibilsiren bak ham men for meg var det veldig lite å si kontra en klister-preppa-ski som fort samle på seg iskrystaller i slike føre og knirrer litt.

Konklusjonen-slipp klister du bevegonist !  kjøp det et par med riktig spenn for deg og dine omstendigheter..... Dvs din vekt og stil i fraspark, og de type føre du får trente mest ut på.  Skiene etter min oppfatning liker dårlig mykunderlag, og jeg har sett noen folk sliter på isete spor med dem. I kald nynø er de også tydeligvis dårlig - jeg fikk erfart dårlig tak i bakken der som snøen hadde dundrert ned i sporene fra furugreinene. "Clister busters" er de helt klart !  Så er det med varierte forhold  og stigende høyde på skirenn eller dags tur, i faste snøforhold med gode spor man kan slippe å tenke på overgang blå til lilla eller å lure om man skal ta klistertuben underarmen klar til bruk.

Hvis jeg hadde brukte over 3000kr på disse skiene, så skulle jeg ha vært litt skuffet kanskje. Dobbeltak staking var elendig. Men jeg har ikke fått provde  dem på fasteføre ennå ! Jeg sparer inn igjen alt med kjøp av klister utover sesongen som betry at skiene har betalt for seg selv før snøen smelter vekk !

Nå kan man velge ski mellom alle de største produsentene for å finne et par med det beste spenn egenskaper for deg. Så med madshus og Salomon kan man velge en 'nysnø' felle som er en blanding mohår og syntetiskensaker. Atomic nå tilbyr de utskiftbare felle kun i toppmodell, Redline, som har en tilsvarende heftig pris.

Jeg tror at i framtiden over 60% av alle treningsski til over 2000 kr /par blir solgt med pels under sålen og at vi skal se utgaver i billigere ski, tur- og fjell- ski, zeroski og "skirenn' racing ski.

onsdag 9. mars 2016

First Skis.....Which To Choose if You Live Near Prepared Tracks

When I first intended to come to Norway and learn to XC ski, I had visions of doing mostly back country touring and building up to ski mountaineering. However these have always been on the back burner since time, jobs and a fascination with the sports technique took over. Also my circle of friends and family are only currently interested in the same as me, getting out for a nice blast up and down the tracks.

So if you are living slap bang in the middle of XC land with plenty of prepared tracks, and you are interested in like me, fun & fitness, then what skis should you get and where?

"Any skis will get you there if you don't know where you're going...."

If you have friends and family who sports-ski then that is an added incentive to buy sporty skis. You should buy the best you can afford, after maybe renting or borrowing at a ski school I would also recommend to go to. But there has to be a compromise between being able to learn on the pair while they take you forward up the learning curve.

I would say most of all though spend good money on a pair and go to a good shop. If you live in like Scandinavia (exc. Denmark and Iceland where it aint a sport really), Canada or Colorado then you will quite likely find that the chain shops actually have trained staff and a tension machine to test your weight against the skis you are interested in. If you live outside the main XC ski centres then it is worth going through your local club or finding a specialist sport XC shop elsewhere.

Tension Mounts Around the Camber Talks........

The tension ("spenn" in Norsk) is the most important factor - a deeper, and stiffer camber will be more dificult to learn on, while too little will not support your weight and the kick wax or waxless patterned area will drag on the snow, which is very slow. Lenght generally relates to spenn but not always. A ski for classic should be about 20cm-25 cm longer than your height in order to have both enough spenn and give directional stability in the tracks relative to the leverage your height will give.

Specialists and club members will also advise you on how to wax your skis, but also on what type of spenn and width of ski you should get for the local tracks, snow types, temperatures and terrain. If you live in an area with a short season predominantly of soft, mild snow (snowman snow!) then you may want to get softer ski but it will need enough camber to hold the clister or waxless area off the snow. In an area with a generally cold winter, where snow tends to fall heavily and then lie a long time, then a harder spenn may suit you such that you get nice fast glide while keeping your wax, clister or pattern off the hard, abrasive base.

Predominant Weather and Type of Snow Count a Lot in Choice

The predominant weather conditions also play a part, especially in the type of glide area pattern you get first put on the ski, which the specialist shops or a helpful club member will sort out for you. Cold snow needs a glide zone which is really polished and a hard wax, or removal of the stone ground factory "average" texture with a Kizmun scraper if you want to avoid glider wax. These preparations allow the sole of the ski in the fore and aft glide zones to break the hard ice and snow flake crystals down to the thin layer of water which renders skis slippy. The kick zone wax can be a simple green wax base followed by layers of for example Swix VF 40 blue, which is an excellent -3 to -10'C new and old snow, enduring do it all wax.

If you have an area typified by swings in temperature to above freezing then you want to consider a waxless ski I would say, because clister is messy and easy to get wrong.  Patterned plastic ski bottoms on the cheap, "Ski & Boot" package deals give the design a bad name. My first ever tour on XC skis was on a pair of Fischer RCS Carbon waxless at Geilo, these are an 800 USD pair of skis, and I had excellent glide, ahem a little too good for my skills, while also good enough grip to get going. These skis were often used by keen amateur sports skiers as a pair for variable conditions on longer ski runs, and are a very high end ski! So textured soles does not mean bad skis, it is just that many of the cheaper skis sold to beginners lack the right camber "spenn". Atomic also for example, have a good range of more touring oriented skis with sports characteristics (BC 45 for example) available both with plane waxable and patterned wax free soles.

Furry Soled, New Fangles Skin Skis

Nowadays of course you have the advent of the furry kick soled ski - the skinski as I think they will be known in English rather than waxless per se. Atomic lead the way, and there being no patent pending on the design, all the major manufacturers have cast themselves into this technology. Madhus and Atomic have perhaps the sportiest versions, while Salomon have both a sporty and a broader tour&training variety. These are mid priced skis, often with carbon fibre structures in them, so they are a good investment! The skin can be taken out btw with a warm air pistol, but best done by a pro perhaps.

Skin-skis are really very, very good for those people who want to max their training or go longer tours in the tracks without worrying about what clister to plank on, or about getting their car seats sticky! They do have their limitations though - firstly in cold new snow on a soft base many say they are as good as useless. Now obviously if they are driving machines to make tramlines or there is enough ski goer traffic then the base gets hard enough for traction at any temperature. Too hard though, ice with water on it late season, and they are not as good as a red or silver special clister, but hey, you can often find coming out of the tracks and going on the middle lane or hardened BC snow will give you grip. Camber is really important here with skin skis - too soft and the skin will drag , too hard and you will not get enough contact when you are beginiing to learn especially.

They are also not wax-free really. You should either glide wax them onto a texture as discussed above, or Kizmun scrape them on the glide areas. Also some people recommend liqued glide wax on the skin itself - I tried a bit at the ends and I reckon it actually made adhesion poorer, but then again maybe if I had done the whole skin with it on the mild day yesterday it would have pressed more water off, There are also antiicing products now for skins and if I am not mistaken, a treatment for powder snow which over  comes the new fallen issue,

Skinny Skis for Skinny Tram Lines, Period

Narrow race skis are below 40 mm on the center measurement, with little or no inswing from the ends- ie the edges are nearly or actually parallell for the whole contact area of the ski. Also racing skis tend to be sold a lot harder in spenn than training or tour skis. Anyhows, it is unlikely that anyone will recommend them to you, but as I said Fischer RCS carbon are a full blow racing ski  and I did my first twenty clicks ever on them and lived to tell the tale.

The opposite end of the scale is tour skis and 'fjell' skis aka Telemark traditional Back Country (BC) Skis which are usually over 45 mm on the middle, and this swings in from up to 20% broader on the tips. Side cut or in-swing the names for this, render the ski a higher bouyancy for softer, off piste snow on the tips, while assisting in steering the ski in loose snow down hill when you want to tuck in and use your body weight to steer. However the broader tips and side cut mean that they do tend to follow up the edges of laid tracks and steer a little jittery on any hard 'cordurouy', furthermore and tend not to track well on this middle corrugated area as soon as it firms up - they in effect fight parallel lines and want their freedom! 

My Fischer Power Wax are if I remember right 52-45-50 and my new Atomic skintecs are 41-40-40. The blue Fischer planks also have a 'track and trail' camber rather than a back country and mountain camber - that is to say they are quite stiff, with the camber neing high and in the middle of the ski, a little assymetric with a greater angle at the toe end. My wife has a pair of slightly wider Aasnes Vikafjell, which are great skis only that they are really a light mountain ski with a long camber, steel edges and seem quite stiff in that camber, which makes waxing especially with clister tricky and irritating. She has decided to get into skate skis for training now, but the Vikafjells were great when we were teaching the kids to ski, with all that control with the steel edges for ploughing and the like.

The only advantage of a ski like my Power Wax, or say the Aasnes Nordmarka, is that you get good bouyancy in slightly deeper snow and softer, wetter snow, and that if you carry a pack they take your weight better. That and the off tramline steering. So despite you living in an area with nice prepp'ed tracks, if you get a lot of new snow and long lasting cold, soft conditions and you want to tour a little late season say with a pack on ski goer tracks, then a tour ski with a standard, central camber may be an option.

If however like me you realistiaclly are going to be in the tracks for a quick blast round the floodlight circuit at night or a tour up the tracks to the lakeside sledging hill with the kids come Sunday,  then "sports-training" skis are a better option because of the issues with steering up the side walls of the tramlines, especially with steel edges.  Training skis are lighter and will glide better in the tracks because they compress snow to water better and in wetter conditions will allow the water to press out the sides quicker, if well prepared. Lightness can go to far, as with no feel for the ski to begin with you maybe start to loose tracking in the tramlines and stumble out.

When I lived a winter in Kristiansand and trained two to three nights a week, I noticed that there were hardly anyone on skis like mine. Even portly pensioners had sporty, thin, parrallel skis with dear boots, and I struggled to keep pace with some of them! At the weekend I would notice though that lots of people had quite broad madhus mountain skis and were enjoying classic track kicking. No one bothered really with middle of the road skis because they are no good off piste in deeper snow, and they usually lack steel edges for icey hillsides, while they are a little too narrow for carrying one of those monster backpacks you see the Noggies out with when going cabin -cabin touring,

Feel the Need for Steel ??  
Steel edges? Do I not need the safety margin of metal on the sides?  Well in fact Fischer did a training ski with steel edges, called Steel Lights, which is not on their web site but still in stock at various outlets. Steel edges are useful in hard packed and icey conditions, especially where you have demanding down hill sections with plenty of corners. For soft snow prevailing condistions, on undulating country they are more than useless, because they can cut dogs paws and kids fingers open when those little mishaps occur. Also they add both weight and an extra spring tension to the ski. However when I lived in Kristiansand we had so often either super high traffic packed snow or thaw back and freeze conditions that these would have been a sensible investment, as I have actually wrecked the plastic edges on my blue planks from these two winters I trained there.

A Balancing Act

Thinner skis then are faster, lighter to kick with and stay better in the tramlines, while also tracking well in the cordurouy! However they do track a little too well and you need to be able to 'jump' up to get into plough position to spill speed or stop, while also learning 'step turning' earlier on.

Which brings me nicely to the other alternative and my new testament gospel of learning to skate ski first!  I have blogged on this before of course, but to recap" skate skiing has always been a technique on all types of skis as a way of making progress, especially over slack slopes. However in the late 70s and early 80s it became more wide spread in the XC sport, until Robert Koch infamously beat all the scando's and Canadians on skis with no kick wax by not just skating between tram-lines, round some corners and down hills but skating the whole damn way and winning by a country mile. A schism developed with this form of 'cheating' risking being banished, as it is now from classic runs, but it quickly developed as its own style and became favoured by biathalon skiers because the rifle jars around less than in kick skiing. It grew to be fully accepted, but fully segregated as a technique.

Classic Style is Really Just Parallel Skating !

As I will blog once again, classic style is really parallel skating because you should aim to completey unload the one ski having powered of it and glide on the other. Instead of a side edge push off as in all forms of skating on blades, wheels and plastic, you are pushing down on the sole in order to get traction, and then putting all your weight over to the gliding ski,  allowing the now depowered leg to trail before the cycle repeats from the other leg again.

When it comes to manoervering, it is so much better being able to learn step turning on XC skis as early as possible because plough just kills too much speed when you dont want to loose it for crowning over the next nice forrest undulation. On longer downhills with medium gradients you can tuck down out of the tramlines with a downhill stance and use the edges to steer on long corners or traverses,. However eventually turns become too sharp for this while ploughing round them may kill your speed almost completely, so step turning is the method of choice. Skate skiing is the best means to learn good one ski balance and step turning in particular.

Dont worry though, on both my super narrow Madshus Ultrasonic Skate 195cm skis and my new Atomic Skintec 4000s I can plough very nicely, either in soft of rather hard icey mid lanes because I can get a lot of pressure on the edges of the skis and the skis can be moved into plough easily, Also you can revert to standard, trudging fishbone on skate skis on the steepest hills if the 'offset' aka paddling is hard to master.

Skate skis are an option for you especially of course if you come from ice skating or from roller blading, whcih will also give you year round training possibiliies!  Furthermore, if you have an area which just gets kind of skied down without good parrallel tram lines, or the tramlines get very very icey and abrasive in ther bases, then skate skiing can be a good way to avoid frustration with waxing and clisters because often the mid lane snow or path snow is soft enough to get edges into while the rail lines are like steel!

Skate skiing requires a higher level of concentration and initially, balance than just learning to plod around on classic or mountain skis with grippy zones on their soles. Generally you need to avoid deep soft snow, and ice on them too. However the advantage in balance and manoerving techniques you will gain from doing this style first IMHO is huge, plus that it is much easier to train off season on roller blades or roller skis for skating than the more demanding classic roller ski with ratchet. Skate skiing also lends itself really only to undulating courses in the woods, or longer plateau sections due to the concentraton needed and the lack of variability in my opinion. If you have a long ascent with stretches of fishboning followed by a long descent then quite likely


If you meet the following criteria >

1. Live near nicely prepared skitrails
2. Want to train aerobically and quite hard
3. maybe have ambitions to race
4. Dont see yourself doing back country touring with a pack

Then get thee a pair of nice skinny, 40mm wide skis for classic, and at least try skate skiing at a school as part of your first lessons. I would say opt for skate skis if you have typical undulating woodland tracks or flate lake runs,  and are experienced on roller blades or ice skating, and maybe drop classic skis altogether!

If however you

1. Have a bit poor balance
2. . often have soft trails only driven by other skiers
3. want to carry a 10kg + backpack often
4. like the idea of BC and mountain tours on firmer snow

Then you want to cut out the middle man and get some broader mountain skis with steel edges

Which ever style you go for, wiegh yourself and use a shop which has a tensioning machine to check camber against your weight - including backpack for touring remember- for all types of skis. Check the makers height to lenght and weight to length or camber charts before you buy. Buy a mid priced set of skis which the shop assistant has taken time to go through your needs and intended uses. Learn also the basics of waxing - a shop should include a first texture, glider waxing with also a sanding of the kick area and a first layer of base binder for free on a mid priced 400-700 USD pair of skis- get it included before you close the deal. Some shops may also offer a Kizmun blade scrape in the glide zone, which for stable conditions will last the seaason with no need for any glider wax.

Shops and clubs often run courses on waxing, and there is a lot on youtube and swix.com these days to learn from. A basic box=package price from swix, SkiGo or Rode will only cost about 30-40 USD and include the three types of hard wax you need, a universal clister, a spatula, a cork., perhaps some sandpaper and perhaps a quick glider in a shoe polish type applicator bottle.

Skate skis need to really have the right texture on them for the prevailing conditions and a hard glider can be used for all conditions on top of the chosen texture to begin with.

Skintec Test Take 2

The weather forecast for today was terrific, so there was no way I wan't going out to bag some more miles under my newly aquired 2013 model Atomic Skintec Pro 4000s. Conditions looked aboslutely beautiful with the tracks prepared in the morning. The temperature was on the rise for march, it being notably stoked up from both sun and when the wind picked up from the south west later. The type of snow in the valleys was wet and gritty, thawing back quickly now. Up at 300m over sea level, it seemed like rather peachy fresh snow for perhaps Lillac hard wax conditions.

This prove not to be the case and I like many other skiers, had a bit of a frustrating day. Most it seemed chose clister, but the snow in the shadow was too new and light for it, while on the sunnier gradients the snow was becoming like a nice easter, a bit wet and almost spongy in the base of the tracks. The 75cm plus new snow had come ontop of a minimal base, if not completely absent, after the dread intrusion of mild rain weather over Scandinavia back in mid February.

I drove to our nearest tracks above 250m which include most good snow winters, a climb of about 400 ft and a route round a hill top looking towards biggerr neighbours which I would count as mountains. So this route includes a lot of fishboning to gain altitude as it meanders round different ridges, ascending them on their shallowest shoulder. Also there is though a very good deal diagonal and some staving-with or without kicking, plus enough dips to give you a breather when you  most need it.

Warming up in the valley in the shadow, the skis seemed pretty good but glide was not absolutely tops, A gang of very spoorty looking housewives had departed 5 mins before me and I never caught up with them, but we are talking about being in deep ski country where folk compete at a national level in all age groups. Their staving holes were very similar to mine, I just presumed they had better glide and gort away from me,  but five minutes is long enough ahead to not see someone doing the same pace as you on any part of the route.

The skis were about 10% slipping on the kicks on any gradients and that went up to about one in three kicks on the steeper diagonal doable sections, which meant experimenting with jogging, staving, fishbone or trying to see if the middle lane created more traction- which it sometimes did, but other times it seemed too loose. Snow was falling from the Scots Pine which pepper the wild country root, in great dods onto the tracks in places and these were definetly a killer for traction!!

Glide was furstrating also and I immediately started to think of how the skis would compare to my old Fischer planks? Did the soft, melting conditioins lend themselves to a wider ski? Was the fell (skin) dragging or sucking?

I took a photoshoot break on the top of the first shoulder of the ascent after 100m of fishboning.  There is a little dip right after this with a cute 180 degree turn to take you along the next valley to the end of the spur so you can climb the next shoulder. Here the skis proved to be super compliant, with some one sided plowing to shed speed being very firm, while step turning proved more stable than my blue planks.

Where the snow was colder, kick was a bit better, while on the other hand where the snow was warmest it seemed that double pole was quickest in the flats. It was a really beautiful day, so there were several photostops and a strip off gloves stop too, so in combijnation with the deep, soft conditions all this meant travel time to the summit was up from what then prove to be a really fast time for me on a course which absolutely will never suit my massive size!

The reason to do the round the mountain is partly as a good day out if you are going with friends, but otherwise a really good cardio work out followed by an exciting and very testing down hill, with both cross slope gradient, some hairpins, and some real deep little bowls to dive into and try to stave hard out to keep on the move. The latter caught me out today as the narrower ski would loose float on the deep beds of the bowls, and dig in, thus messing up both my step turn and any plow corrections and I got unceremoniously thrown off into the soft bank twice, once face plkanting at about 30 mph which broke my sunbglass arm on one side, Damn, why did I go so fast in and try to be clever step turning in the softest snow? I was more cautious on the hair pins, combining a good brake in lough wiht some step turning. Other bends I could take slalom style as usual. The skis felt really nice down hill, with no noise from the skin as far as I could tell, and a really positive, controlled feel to the ride and steering. The skis really came alive today on the dowhill, which is on the North face so maybe that tells me something.

At the end of the hill top route, the tracks plunge back onto forrest roads and I chose to branch off down for another 1.6 km of decent , with it being so fun an' all - going with gravity. The climb back up the same way was a real plod as I knew it would be and I wasnt expecting so very much- it worked out to feel much like being on lillac or red when you needed to go to clister, a bit of 'wheel slip' and the need to come out and bone up. But that is par for the course for me on this long 2km climb.

Since it was such a beaturiful day I decided to take in the third wing of the route, completing the circle to the foot of the mountain top route and then going down eastwards. Here some usually fast staving sections seemed slow and I got quite frustrated. There was no one around to judge my pace or slipping gains.

So the jury is unfortunetly out on both the camber and glide qaulity and the adhesion from the ski and the SDS system hard camber, soft kick carbon skulduggery.

What I really needed to do waas to test against my old skis and then get a well waxed pair of these https://shop.atomic.com/en/catalog/product/view/id/17023/s/redster-marathon-classic-hard/category/1245/  to test agosing ........

mandag 7. mars 2016

The Scoop on Skin-Skis...In built Mohair on XC , The Way Forward?

After many years wanting a pair, but never quite justifying the new price for a potentially dust gathering new fangled ski, I got hold of a bargain used pair og Atomic Skintecs. First day out and what is the scoop? Like I say, it seemed an expensive experiment for a system which gained as much critique as praise, the former playing to the sceptics and wax sponsored semi pros. So did the skis show their stregnths and weaknesses today? 

I bought a lightly used pair of Pro skintec 4000s, 208 cm,  which I presume have the advanced carbon fibre insert, more on that later, but more over it had the glued on mohair insert. This was a cheaper option launched I think in 2013 as an alternative to the very innovative and much discussed magnetic, exchangeable skin system. Now all the major producers of XC skis have come up with their own varients, with I think the expired patents going back as far as wooden ski days so no IPR to hold back copy cats. However Atomic decided to use the system on really their top training ski with the variable tension carbon camber insert. Camber (centre arc tension, spenn in Norwegian) is really the crux of the matter, but first how did it go?

The skis were obviously from our local shop who have been fitting them with quite a cheap binding in a horrible grey plastic. There is a lock lever, which I just find annoying on skis, they come open in my experience as often as sprung step ins due to icing or accidental twists. The internals are stainless steel and not ligher, stiffer alloy. Anyway that was the only real disappointment of the day. An upgrade to perhaps Atomics own binding with matching long grooved boots next year will fix it anyway.

So after getting the things onto my boots, it was out in new, wet snow with an immediate nice little hill up from the car park to test the skis, followed by our usually and quite wonderful forrest road training 7km return tour route., which often requires zero fishboning and has hills which mostly can double pole down at high speed. It is all go, a really good workout with a beaver-infested lake and natural Scots Pine and Alder hilly woodlands to make it a little more interesting.

Immediately what struck me was that the skis were really light for their imodest length, and felt immediately controllable and fast. I have never used 'straight' edged classic skis before, but I can see why very few people who use the driven tracks for training bother with side cut these days. You see many septagenarians out on sports and even racing skis with parallel edges, 40mm wide.

It would have otherwise been a difficult if not impossible day to wax for- new, wet snow on a relatively soft base, with a rising temperature and quite a few folk out in the tramlines by early afternoon. Perhaps rubbing skis would have been the pro's choice, it certainly was damned if you clister, damned if you don't as the base of the tracks got harder and wetter with the army of pensioners who seemed to appear.

First hill and as perhaps could be expected, the skis were like nailed in the kick adhesion! This is what they all talk about "Spikrefeste" with these skis. Good feste uphill often makes up pyschologically for a little less than average glide, but today it first of all seemed quite good. I was soon "up the chuff" of a light little lady who was having some slipping up the light gradietn. The narrow Atomics dug in quite a lot on the middle skating area which was really very soft, so I went over to a bit of skate padling to see how it went to get passed the dame in the lane. Suprisingly enough they were really nice to skate a little on, which is a major bonus for me because I am not a purist when it comes to either technique. In fact I would say that a good green, blue or lillac hard wax job in those -`C condtions can be judged by the ready ability to skate out the tram-lines and maintain skating on the mid lane, all eb that not as optimum as skate skis, but without catching and jittering

My old timer mate revealed to me that he actually used to compete for Minnesota State XC team, and also that he weighs in at about 59kg, which is as good as half of what I weight. He had taken off to get a head start on his clistered up sports skis. It took me about a km to reel him in.

Glide up hill was completely acceptable and I revelled in having skis which almost felt like they werent there as my trailing foot kicked back  into the air. However down hill the glide was awful. I think these types of days are the very few which suit a wider, light tour ski for me, my Fischer PowerWax 2009 model may have worked better to maintain float over the soft base. My lighter tour companion had much better glide despite the first round being on new snow and him having a lillac clister job.

Uphill first round though and I was the flying scotsman. Grip and glide relatively for the conditions and I guess compared to the Start GripTape I have planked on my blue tour planks, it was a much better day out. My last tour in hardened snow ended in swapping to skate skis,  while the damp weather tour before that had been a plod on my ancient jumble sale skis with little or no glide. For once I felt that I really could concentrate on both technique, power and speed.

On the flats and down hill however, it was a sad story. It was chronically slow, and not helped by the tracks being wide out on soft edges, with an overly generous skating lane as is the usual for our club, or perhaps the machine is at fault as the two pensioners who drive it both go classic not skate-style. I felt sucked of power and frustrated. Were the skis too soft a camber?

I did have a pair of these skis put on a tension machine to my weight approximately and they were just about ok in terms of the kick zone being held off the snow for 90% of its length. It is quite a lot shorter than the removable version, but wider I think, and maybe a rougher or longer strand Mohair. However on the steepest downhill the skis showed just a tiny little bit of the whirring noise people on web forums complain about.

Second round and the temperature had risen well above zero, and there had been maybe 10 skiers up and down the route. The tracks were firmer and quite wet, The skis became a little slippy in the kick and probably got sucked oin the flats and downhills, they went irriatingly slow.

Here we come then to the crux of the matter and I believe the lions share of the criticism of these skis from people who have bought them and not been happy. The camber is all important. Without the right amount of tension your skin will drag over the snow and lock the ski into suck at its plastic edges. Too little camber tension and you will struggle to activate the compliant carbon system, which gives up its relative stiffness to behave like a soft ski at the point when the threshold of kick downward pressure is maximum.

The other brands of 'skin-skis' will attract the same/ wrong camber, wrong ski criticism. They are all atleast 50% dearer than normal packet price, mid range skis and mostly to a better qaulity without hairy brasilian treatment. So the type of buyer is likely to be someone who knows they want an easy maintenance ski for training, but maybe just took the chart length for being right for height and not weight. Hence some bitching on the web forums from folk who should find out about camber and what weight they will support and what style of kicking and snow they will be best suited to. The big surprise to me is that the manufacturers have chosen mid to top end sports-training skis which can be used for racing in fact, as their launch area for a ski-idea which may suit a more leisure and fitness user.

Also you cant forget glide zone properties, Kizmun or wax, and the need for texturing for wetter conditions. My skis seem to have a very light ex works stone ground effect and I hadnt bothered re-gliding them, there was some white hairy sections but nothing more than a couple of centimeters so I just used the morning for work and threw them in the car at 1215.

Atomic actually have launched a Stiff version of this very ski in this winter's catalogue, which is maybe the ideal ski for me, but I am more than merely willing to percievere and won't be casting in the towel with my new fangled, furry skis.

lørdag 5. mars 2016

Why Get Skate-Skis ?

Today was another perfect example of why it pays to get skating-skis.

It must come as a surprise to many from less be-snowed lands,  that there are even two types of sport-skis for xc. I had seen people using poles with roller blades but it never crossed my mind that on the one hand you needed a diffeerent set of planks, while on the other that skating style had caused such a near schism in the sport.

A schism which continues today with the growth of double poling the whole way round the course, a side for a tad fishbone,  and the downhill of course.

Today though it was a personal schism, out on a farmland course which is barely ten meters above sea level. Hence there was sleety snow and thaw back followed by clear skies...crunchy. I had thoiught it would have softened up, so used my mid season waxing-buster Start GripTape TM no less. It was ok in the less icey stretches but otherwise it wsas not the best in comoairson to clister, and it grabbed once in a while too. Usually it is a mid season savior, coveeing harder stuff from blue to red wax and into a lillac clister. But it is not red clister or even universal adhesion - and tha is of course why i use the damn stuff in the first place.

Anyway I wenr through the ice a couple of places where it had spread over the wet patches ocveernight. Kick was unpredictable, double pole seemed slow and the whole thing was noisy like brand new waxless patterened skis.

In the mid lane the churned snow was softer - and that is why i write dear reader. A slip of a lass turned up and skated nicely round the one convoluted one mile course round the field boundaries. I had something still in the bag, madshus ultrasonic skate.....so 5 miles with ski-swap it was.

Immediately the new choice felt weildy and like an extenaion of my feet. They are probably 2013 model or eaelier perhaps, old stock maybe sold off through coop. Guessing they were around $250 , a steal in any denomination at 1200kr.

It all went muxh better with only some slight issues with a bit of fishbone duck walking on a cambered corner uphill and a caught edge on the down hill. For any decent skate skier it was a perfextly acceptable day at about +3 'C. .

I have a texture on my skate skis straight from Madshus's stone grinding machine with a layer of cheap base glider and some dear flouro rub on over that. At the extremes of usual skiing here in the 'deep south' , -12 and +6 air temp, skate skis begin to misbehave themselves with an out-of-box texture - cold, hard snow flakes don't get mashed by a the uneven texture wirth mid do-it-all wax. While in wet snow there is not deep enough channels to break surface tension of the water mass nor shed it off the edges. However here skiable courses are nearly always available only betweenn-8 and +4`C with colder weather being snowless and milder bringing rain in the winter.

So you can avoid a lot of hassle with clister and really concrete like tramlines by checking out skate skis. Now where werenthose youtube links on hownto actually do it properly.

fredag 4. mars 2016

Barsk og Jållette på Det Samme Skitur

I går hendt det igjen.....snø i store mengder men ingen oppkjørte spor ! Så kom noen pluss grader og en dose sludd. Blaute sne ble det.

Jeg var skeptisk, men etter solen viste seg så rivet jeg meg selv vekk fra PCen, sendte en sms til en skikompis pg kastet mine loppemarkedsmørfrieski og dyre kullfibre staver i bilen, kjørt ut og hentet kompisen.

Blaut var det. Få hadde giddet ta turen og ingen tørde å benytte seg av engen som var ferdig brøyta som parkeringsplassen for turen. Klart var det ikke noe føre for skøyteski, skulle ha bommet med det valget. Spikrefeste hadde vi, begge oss, men ved forskjellige redskaper. Jeg med 1970 stil treski med plastsåle og et langt mønstret som en laks kunne være stolt over. Han med moderne Fischer, med et merkelig møsntre av lillac klister, rød klister og rød vox smørte i et fiskebein mønstret. Begge fungerte!

Turen gikk bra det første 3km, god trening for meg med dårlig glid og da et rettferdig konkurranse nivå dermed stilte mot gamlingen. Myk i steder, våt ellers. Diagonal gang hvor det var en gang  500m med motbakke i fiskebein gikk også bra.....så var det litt av en fri følelse å glid over jomfru sne. ....men det var utdorkjøringer som gikk i stikke. For vanskelig med plog og farlig å la skiene bare skjære spor uten god styring. En annen gubbe hentet oss inn og hadde på seg gode, brede fjellski som kunne glid og flyte over snøen. I allefall han brøyte veien for oss på veien tilabake og den verste bakken jeg ofte sliter på ble en lett plog.

Gamlingen stakk av fra meg, og med solen bak skogen ble det bakkeglatte for mine ski. Han hadde 300m sprang på meg i det siste halv annen kilometer.

Trening ble det uansett, og en lite masokistisk glede. Jeg innrømmer at jeg må få ,eg selv løsnet opp mer og får balanse i gang mens jeg glir på et ski. Sånn fikser jeg det !

torsdag 3. mars 2016

Norway at an Economic Cross Roads. Racism Helps Pave the Wrong Way?

Norway stands at an economic cross roads, for which it has to be said, it has been prepared for but never thought would actually happen. Like nuclear bunkers during the cold war, Norway has always thought to use the oil-fund in times when oil prices dived, but never actually been confronted with the reality of trying to pull off a Keynsian revival and a new, economically more liberal direction.

Politically Norway is a land where there are high moral standards towards their own people, as a quite homologous Germanic race. Further to this, they have lead the world in terms of even mindedness in conflicts like the Israel-Palestine, and taken their fair share of refugees over the years.

On the one side you have this and the moral tale of a farmer who is out hunting with a freind. He has prepared a cooked ham for their expectedly hungry return to the farm house, and let it cool on the kitchen table. Upon their return he notices footprints in the fresh snow and that his door is open. His friend suggests they sneek up and catch the intruder, and they approach the kitchen window to see a man voracioulsy eating from the ham left on the table. While his friend is eager to leap to capture the theif, the farmer stops him and says "If he is prepared to break in and eat in my house, then he must really be desperately hungry. We will let him satisfy his hunger".

Christianity and the interpretations of helping the weak in Society, which really is the gospel, the word of Christ, has a long tradition of influencing Norsk politics, from the christian-socialist relationship and the formation of the more conservative KrF - Christian folk's Party. Unlike the Tea Party and other Christian Conservative movements in the USA, they set both a high value on morals in society and also the true teaching og Jesus, not a Neo Conservative interpretation which suits the vision of a low-tax, low-welfare society where the vagiaries of charity are all the meek have to rely on. The KrF see to a large degree that government is a mediator of social well being, but also moral well being.

On the other side you have a realy fundamental basis of Norwegian politics which is " You're getting something I'm not" and their extreme dislike of 'snyltere' - freeloaders as a best translation but with a slightly more negative onomatic twist in the verbal use. This now extends to of course, the new refugee crisis, especially when it concerns those suspected or painted as being economic migrants. Norwegians are very tolerant and interested in travel, other cultures etc. Also they are very glad to have foreign labour, such as the many tens of thousands of Poles who came in the building upswing, and filled jobs that Norwegians wouldn't take.

However they have a duality here, which I am very much exposed to even as a white westerner with almost fluent Norwegian. That you are a welcomed guest for a while, a 'guest worker' but then you have suddenly outstayed your welcome and are a source of drain on reserves of society and taking most likely a Norwegians job. Worse, to some you are diluting the Norwegian culture, welfare state and even race.

Since Society began, political and religious leaders have used race and xenophobia as a means of gathering support in the population. Maybe as long ago as 5000 BC or more, societies went to war or persecuted and killed minorities over the perceived fear of their influence over society. The common good was threatened. They will overthrow the majority. Lives were at risk. Daughters would be raped.

Ethologists and anthropologists theorise that  xenophobia is very deep rooted in our psyche as a mammal, as we organised ourselves in family groups or small tribes, and continue to do so to some extent of course. In the primordial humanoid period where we were organised in small 'troops' and competed for resources on the African sahel against other primates and humanoid troops, it became very important to recognise outsiders because they usually entailed a threat to at least resource security if not war.

This behaviour can still be seen of course in primates today, but also in primitive societies such as in Papua New Guinea (where cannibalism is still present) the fear of the intruder is estolled to them taking on a supernatural threatening form, a ghost or half human.

As I often try to point out to fellow scientists and 'intelligent design' alike, we cannot escape our nature. We can only learn through experience. Racially homogenous societies and sub societies, 'tribes' like we see in the USA where segregation of the working classes by race is still a phenomenon, are particularly open to harbouring this type of suspicion because races do not mingle so do not get positive learning experiences from meeting. Furthermore  or that one race can feel economically threatened or denied by another, while worse again, incidents perpetrated by a tiny minority in an identifiable racial group or religion as seen as demonstrating the whole group's intent and potential for crime or unrest.

Today  in Norway, we really haven't come much further than this evolutionary and social historical position amongst at least a quarter of the electorate if opinion poles are to be correlated between support the most vehement anti immigrant party, the FrP, and the social phenomenon of xenophobia - fear of outside peoples. However some of their rhetoric and actions of the coalition government appease many middle of the road voters with the mantra "help them (refugees from Syria), where they are" which means in the muddy refugee cities of Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon.

There is a substantial influx of Syrians in particular to Norway, but also economic refugees from Afganistan, which by in large has large enough areas safe such that very few if any will qaulify for assylum. Far from the crime wave anticipated, those who actually work with the assylum seekers from Syria meet people who want to work, and are eager to do so. Unlike a large minority in FrP voters who are actaully on invalidity benefit, they do not have a relaationship to a welfare state, and are use to the type of economic flexibilities and need to work for a living that Donald Trump would admire.

The 'drain' on resources by the meagre benefits they get while seeking assylum and going on the integration programmes, are many times multiplied to the income of private assylum firms, hotelliers and landlords who are having an off season bonanza in rentals. Also much of the 3000 kr budget they actually have to spend each per month, goes on food of course, and due to a high tariff protectionist policy in Norway, mostly norwegian meat and vegetables. There are many who smoke, who then of course recirculate 80% of that back into the exchequor. So there is a massive keynsian spend which mostly is going to private companies, who arguably have no place in recieving such a large subsidy, but are of course more efficient in the provision of food and accomodation than the state.

So all political sides should be happy, only there is a 'doublethink-doubletalk' going on with FrP, as part of their long term strategy of being seen as supporting populist ideas, while being frustrated by the incumbent, labour dominated legal and economic frameworks. On the one hand they are only too glad to inject this huge money into the private economy, while in public they express a language which is very prejudiced and many say verges on fascist use of words and images.

In current emergency immigration policy the FrP  have actually agreed sensible policies which are part of the consensus across parliament - that there must be a limit on immigration now, other countries in Europe (EU) must follow the convention on refugees and not allow migrants and refugees passage further, and that only true refugees and politcal assylum seekers gain residence. However they use a PR line which paint themselves as the party which is both Victor and Victim- they are winning concessions towards their harder language, in the face of the entrenched government laws and agreements on refugees. In particular they want to appeal to working class labour voters, and they have succeeded for now in presenting both the xenophobic 'brown skinned rapists on our streets', and the economic arguments at a time when up to 10% of the working age population face unemployment.

Which brings us back to the Economic and Moral crossroads that Norway finds itself in. As with all Neo Conservative, populist movements in society and politics, here they are appealing to the base concepts in an adult population who have grown rich on democratic socialist policies. The average Norwegian worker commanded more than twice the EU average wage by 2010 and had two weeks more holiday. This is of course based on hard work, but more so of course those now forgotten union agreements and labour policies. You can compare Norway to Angola, a country with a larger offshore oil potential now, and huge high value mineral reserves. Yet the average worker is in comparitive desolute poverty.

In an economy with slow growth and hence low wage growth, it is of course the appeal of getting more take home from lower taxes which is the over riding populist policy of the New Right. For decades now, the Neo Conservatives have been pedling the old message that someone who does not deserve your tax money is getting it, therefore if we cut them out, you can get that extra take home money you need by tax cuts. To uneducated workers, even in the public sector or indirectly public dependent, this is a 'no brainer'. It is a simple, quick win at every turn. The left 'tax and spend' on ever new inefficiencies. The under-class as the shirkers taking from the workers.

Luckily for Norway, the refugee crisis will abate and the EU will have to assert its borders and abilities to tackle this or become very much weakened, possibly exacerbated by a Brexit and thus a powerful new outsider pushing for sovergenty with access to markets leading more scepticism. Unluckily for Norway, the price of oil is likely to remain below 40 USD for the forseeable horizon, which means that  many fields will not have life-cycle-extenstion only the most economic new wells will be drilled.

Norway has of course its sovereign wealth (" oil")  fund to spend in the economy in down turn times, but this is somewhat more unweildy than cash-in-a-quick-access-savings-account. It is however earmarked as a national pension fund, and has most of its assets less than liquid, being invested in stocks and bonds across the world. Rather in contradiction to original expectation (it is argued) the fund's domestic legal entity for internal investment became the much smaller sister to the international fund, which has made huge gains on the international financial and stock markets since its inception. The crux of the argument has long been a slight mistake if you like in the original political intention of the fund, domestic to Norway, to invest in infrastructure. The fund's trustees must secure growth in the fund by prudent investment, and there is a legal framework relating to EU and other trade laws which limits the injection of cash to companies. It can in effect not be used on what we would call PFI projects, where the state in effect pays itself interest from the tax payer, and in terms of infrastructure like road and rail, when using private limited share issue companies to build and run the sections, the return on investment is judged too low to warrent the fund management's approval for investment.

However the national pension fund as it is in effect, has been a large and patient investor in Norsk monlinth companies such as Telenor and Statoil, and it can be argued has both enabled these companies to grow large by on the one hand being patient with ROI when compared to other fund managers, while also being somewhat nationalistic in avoiding selling off companies to foreign corporates, rather approving floatations on foreign stock exchanges as a route to equity leverage and expansion.

Once again the FrP can paint themselves today as Victim ( on behalf of many Norwegians who are frustrated), unable to spend as much of the oil fund on motorways as they would like, while also later the Victor if they can be seen to have gained comprimise and movement away from the current model. Working against this road investment secneario are several factors. Firstly developing motorways outside the gentle landscape immediately around Oslo, is extremely expensive because there is the famous scenic terrain and almost within 1 m deep of any surface outside cultivated land, hard bed-rock. Secondly Labour is expensive, and in the picture, but compared to oil rigs as a pertinent example, road development is actually not Labour intensive in construction nor the least of course in operation. Thirdly there is the protracted planning process where local government are deeply entrenched. Finally there is the fact that new roads have quite small economic benefit relative to the investment.

Norwegians do fly a lot between the main cities anyway for business and pleasure, and all the major three connurbations experience often gridlock and unnacceptable air quality. However there is a natural appeal in having a motorway network between the major cities, despite the volume of traffic and cost savings of freight not really justifying in terms of ROI before the roads age and  require major maintenance. Frp  want to avoid also further toll roads, and can blame their partner in the coalition, Høyre, for persisting in this means of financing these expensive, and economically "marginal" investments.

User pays. In a private world of course, user would also have to pay, but the road network is one anomoly in the Neo Conservative resistance to public spending. One chink in the armour of the ideoglogy where by the 'collection' economy, taxes, spread the investment out over all the people such that economies of scale are achieved by large investments, and the users are not penalised by tolling. It seems that this applies happily to defence, policing and roads but not to health care and education.

Back to Norway, festering in the reality of mass job losses in the North Sea and on shore too. The other issue with the 'oil fund' is that as most all governments know, directed economic spending towards private sector production is a legally torturous and economically dubious road to follow. Other invesments in education, sports facilities and health take longer time to show fruits than a single or mayb even two parliaments.

The Frp has another dilema then, of wanting to offer tax cuts and to privatise services, while
in fact public operational spending is the one area which is floating much of the economy now that oil is in decline. And here is a warning tonew FrP voters - look only over the North Sea and the Atlantic to see the natural consequences of low-tax, low-public-service. The huge cost of private health insurance to the US citizens prior to its being tickled a bit with 'Obama care'. The lower wages, often lower quality service and profit exporting which is so typical of privatising public services. The expansion of payments at point of provision or outright movement to the private sector with above inflation price rises, as we see in rail in the UK.

And all the time a social welfare budget which actually rises, as we have seen in the UK, where the shift to private has meant that workers in public provision are more often part time and temporary with the state picking up the tab for 'down time' while employers avoid paying the on costs they have for full-time, permanent staff. This does of course then lead to the larger perception that there is an undeserving layabout underclass, while aslo it breeds a larger 'prole-cariat' , precarious economic white trash who are ready fodder for right wing extremists when the concepts of 'foreigners taking our jobs and taxes' is risen again.

The Norwegian model has worked well for society, where the focus is on wealth retention. Now there is the challenge of increasing wealth creation outside the Oil sector, and the issue of balancing the budget. IF the populist, low-tax-low-service right wing movement gains traction though post refugee crisis, then Norway will become like any other mediocre country you choose to name, where the average workers lot is not very attractive, while the New Right can gain more traction from  a greedy better off third of society as well as the 'prolecarariat's perceptions of racial intrusion and tax being wasted.