By: CXC Team Member, Andy Brown
There are two kinds of skiers in the world, those who like klister and those that don’t. Many skiers cringe at the very thought of having to resort to something so “repulsive” and simply throw in the towel or switch to their skate gear when things aren’t Extra Blue. Why is this? What have these little tubes of goo done to earn their near universally shunned status within the ski community? Yes it’s a bit sticky, and yes it can make a mess, but there is more to it than that.
Here in the Midwest, we are generally fortunate to have plenty of hardwax classic skiing. Most days we can throw on one of any dozen green or blue hardwaxes and go kicking merrily down the trail. We forget how rare this is in comparison to mainland Europe and the wetter warmer coasts. When we think of klister, it is treated as an inconvenience, forced on us by less than ideal conditions. We overlook the fact that klister lets us ski more; that this little tube is doing everything in its power to keep us from sliding backwards despite the icy, wet, dirty snow. If we lived somewhere warmer we wouldn’t question this fact. It would be obvious that klister equals more skiing.
Skiers aren’t born with this unreasonable bias, they are taught it. The anti-klister indoctrination begins in high school where upperclassman described to the freshman the horrors that are contained within those little cardboard boxes. That if you open pandora’s box, your skis will turn into glorified snowshoes, your hands will become permanently fused together, and your dog will get glued to the ceiling. Within that tube are horrors from beyond this world, radioactive alien space snot, and heaven help you should you need it for a race. The freshman’s eyes grow wide as they listen to these tales and three seasons later they will repeat them to the next batch of impressionable minds. I know, I’ve done it myself.
With a bias firmly established many skiers simply avoid the stuff than actually gain any experience or proficiency with it. They don’t know how quick and easy it is to smooth a coat of klister on a classic ski by hand. My klister enlightenment came skiing at Elm Creek with Marc Beitz. The snow was coarse wet corn snow and no one was having any luck kicking. Marc took my skis and squeezed on chevrons of Rex OV brown klister. He then took his whole palm and slowly dragged it down the ski, smoothing the klister perfectly in one pass. Marc put his gloves back on, the whole process taking less than 2 minutes, no muss, no fuss. We started down the trail, effortlessly striding past everyone who were stuck herringboning the hills. Two hours of perfect classic skiing in the warm sun was our reward, and to this day Rex brown klister holds a special place in my heart along with Rode Multigrade klister, though that wax is story for another day.
The final reason for klister’s unpopularity is skate skiing. Yes skating is great and yes it’s easier to simply skate rather than use klister. Why mess around trying three kinds of klister when my skate skis will always glide. And they have a point. Klister isn’t the easiest answer, but like everything in life you get out what you put in. Challenge yourself to classic with klister and you will be a better, more enlightened skier. Striding with perfect kick in difficult conditions is incredibly rewarding and in a way makes klister more special than any pure fluoro or swix extra blue will ever be..
I have many great memories of classic skiing, a lot of them made possible by using klister. On those days klister enhanced my experience, not hindered it. If a little tube of goo can help me make fond memories with my friends and family, then I am proud to call myself a klister lover.