This is the first post in our Frequently Asked Questions series where we’ll try to answer common questions from new Junior Nordic families. And it’s a timely one because Nordic skis are currently in really short supply. But before we answer the title question of the article, it’s probably helpful to answer another question first:
What are fish-scale skis? (And note that fish-scale skis are sometimes called “no-wax skis.”)
You can look at the title picture of this post for the answer. See the little scales in the middle part of the ski? Those are “fish-scales”, and they’re used in place of kick wax to keep the ski from slipping backwards. Or, put another way, the fish-scales give you something to kick off while you’re skiing. And just like kick wax, fish-scales are only used for classic skiing. With skate skiing, the entire ski needs to be slippery.
In the Junior Nordic program, we discourage families from purchasing fish-scale skis for three reasons:
- We teach both classic and skate skiing, and at our level we can use the same set of skis for both types of skiing simply by adding or removing kick wax. This keeps Junior Nordic more affordable for our families.
- Learning to wax is a fun and interesting part of skiing, and one of our program goals is to teach kids how to be independent ski waxers.
- Fish-scale skis are a bit more forgiving of improper form, so as coaches it’s a bit easier for us to teach classic skiing on “waxable” skis.
But with that said, you can use fish-scale skis for Junior Nordic, especially for brand new and younger skiers. We start our beginner skiers (the “Polar Cubs”) out on classic form. Typically, kids will spend somewhere between one and two seasons at this level before they progress to Otters (the next level up), where we start teaching skate skiing. But be warned that some intrepid kids progress from Polar Cubs to Otters in a matter of just a month or two. And as soon as they hit Otters, you’ll need to ditch the fish-scales so your newly minted Otter can also skate!
So, the summary answer to the question is as follows:
Start with waxable skis if possible. But if you can’t find waxable skis, fish-scale skis will work in a pinch for kids who aren’t yet skate skiing.
I hope that helped!