Tips & Tricks
TERRY HERTEL'S PRO TIPSThe premise of all Hertel waxes is that we don't actually ride on snow at all but rather, a thin sheen of water that forms from friction when a ski or a snowboard glides over the snow. Our waxes, in turn, repel water which is what creates the glide that we all know, and love.
In extreme cold, however, this effect is less pronounced. The snow simply melts less underfoot, resulting in less water to glide on. The snow that does melt, re-freezes very quickly... usually to your skis or snowboard which creates drag.
A fibertex pad (or, any other highly abrasive buffing agent) will leave a surface that is essentially millions of little grooves. When you are gliding over a "warmer" snow, this microstructure helps move water along and away from the base, which in turn creates a fast glide. However, on "cold" snow, structure in the base is not desirable. The water that is created via friction re-freezes too quickly in the structure in the base, which results in sticking. Note that windblown snow is colder than ‘regular’ snow and will sometimes cause drag too, even if the air temperature isn’t that cold.
This "sticking" will usually happen at slower speeds, and especially when you're standing still. Getting off the chair lift, waiting for your friends (or kids) to drop in, or standing in a lift line will be prime times for the sticking to happen. Generally speaking: the faster you're moving, the more friction you'll cause, the more water you'll create, and the faster you'll go. But at slow speeds, in cold conditions, all bets are off the table.
The answer is to use a cork to smooth out the structure in the base. Rub the base of waxed & scraped skis/ snowboard vigorously until it is a smooth mirror. A squeaking cork is a good indicator the base is getting smooth. Using a harder wax like Racing 739 will help too.
To sum up, on cold days, cork your base to make a smooth finish. On warm days, use a green fibertex pad or brushes to make a microstructure for excess water to disperse.
Which wax to use?
If it’s going to be warm and a bit humid, then I’ll use Super Hotsauce and use a green fibertex pad or brushes after scraping.
If it's predicted to be colder, windy, and drier? Then, I'll use Racing 739, scrape, and buff with a cork. This is the cold-condition, "polished base" treatment. I might even rub-on a little extra Racing 739 wax, if I'm using a board with deep structure, as a deep base structure will also tend to hold and trap water. A thicker wax application will fill the structure more, creating an even more slippery surface.
What if I'm facing highly variable, unknown, or unpredictable conditions? In that case, I'll hotwax with Racing 739 and rub on some Super Hotsauce over top, and buff with a cork. This will cover most of the unknowns that I might face on any given day. On a warm day, the base will glide all day long on the Hotsauce, and the snow itself will naturally structure the wax. On a cold day, the smooth-buffed Hotsauce will work off fairly quickly, revealing the harder Racing 739 underneath. In either case, your base will feel noticeably faster in just a couple of runs as the wax adjusts itself to whatever condition is prevalent.
In spring conditions, a good structure in the base becomes very important. A well-defined base structure to move all the water under the base efficiently is the best thing to have to avoid the suction effect of wet snow. Use Super Hotsauce or SpringSolution (when the conditions become difficult) and use it sparingly, as too much wax will clog the structure, which is self-defeating. Brushing wax out with a brass brush is ideal in these conditions, to keep that structure open and well-defined.