Nick Hendrickson racing at the Tour of China earlier this winter
Testing and Choosing Race Skis at the 
Boulder Mountain Tour 2017
 
On a typical day in the Wood River Valley, you can pretty much bet on sunny days, cold nights, firm new snow and amazing grooming. But so far, this hasn't been a typical year in Ketchum. Last week it didn't seem to stop snowing, with about 20 inches accumulating on Friday and Saturday, it made for some interesting ski testing, and racing!
 
Testing
Whatever skis you may have in your bag, make sure the skis you test are all zeroed (same wax and prep on all). Test skis the day before race day on conditions that you think will mimic race conditions (as best as possible).  The BMT is unique because the start and finish could be very different conditions, choose a spot to test skis that is going to give you an idea of what the snow will be up high at the start, and down at the finish. You can always test at multiple locations if you're really keen, just be careful to not overthink things. This brings us to probably the most important part of ski testing, choosing which ski to race on.
If you have a good quiver of skis, chances are you'll have two pairs of skis that feel similar on testing day. This is when you go with your gut feeling. If you're thinking that one ski feels better than the other, but just a little bit...choose the better ski! In the end, if your skis are really so similar, it will not make or break your race. Take the skis that feel slightly better and wax those up for race day. Another option is to race wax both pairs and test them the morning of the race on the course when you know what the weather and grooming is looking like on the race course. Whatever ski you end up choosing, be committed to that ski! 

Nick Hendrickson, 2016 Boulder Mountain Tour Champion
 
This is an excellent article written for SBX racers, but should be read by anyone who wants to improve at anything and have a positive experience

Self-Talk
By Cody Brown
Head SBX Coach SSWSC
 
One of the most important yet often overlooked aspects of mental game and success in athletics is, "Self-Talk." In this eblast we will review the key concepts and the role self-talk plays in athletic performance.
With every new athlete that enters my program one of the first things we actively eliminate is negative self-talk.  I often hear negative self-talk in response to feedback that is being provided to athletes. It usually sounds something like, "I am just not good at that technique" or "I just can't do that." The first thing that I do when I hear this kind of negativity is cut the athlete off to stop the negative self-talk. Then reframe the statement and try it again. The new statement would sound something like, "I am improving that technique," or "that is something that I am working on getting better at." If an athlete is verbally condemning their performance, it is almost a guarantee they are mentally doing it as well.
The underlying principle behind self-talk and its effect on athletic performance is simple. Your sub-conscious mind is indifferent to results and is essentially programed by your conscious mind. One of the first psychologists to explain this notion was Maxwell Maltz in his book
Psycho-Cybernetics . For example, if you persistently say (verbally or mentally), "I am not good at pumping transitions" that is exactly what your sub-conscious mind is going to produce. If you reinforce to your sub-conscious mind positive statements such as "I am working on getting better at pumping transitions," you will, over time produce that desired result. A rule of thumb if you find yourself negatively criticizing yourself is, in order to eliminate one negative thought, you need to mentally or verbally say a reframed positive statement four times. One technique many athletes use is a "power statement". If they catch themselves being negatively critical of their performance mid-run, they can force out the negativity by mentally saying the power statement of their choice four times immediately after. This statement can be as simple as "my technique is excellent" or "I ride with power and finesse."
This also applies to outside influences as well. I make a conscious effort to speak to my athletes the same way I want them to speak to themselves. For instance, if an athlete is speed checking or slowing down before a jump, I will resist the temptation to say "don't speed check!" But rather tell the athlete to "eliminate the speed check" or "after the first feature point it straight into the jump."  It is subtle but effective.
To sum up self-talk in three simple steps:
  • Listen-Pay attention to what you are saying to yourself. 
  • Reframe-If negative, reframe the statement to be positive. 
  • Reinforce-Repeat the positive reframed statement.
Achieving your goals is a process, so be nice to yourself and enjoy the journey.  
 
 
 
USA Nordic signs strategic partnership with Toko
Park City, January 15, 2017
"USA Nordic is very pleased to announce that we will be working with Toko as our exclusive glove supplier for the Nordic Combined Team's cross country racing for the 2017 season," said Bill Demong, Executive Director of USA Nordic. "Toko has a long, distinguished history as one of the premiere Nordic brands and we are very excited to be working with their committed team."

Toko US Brand Manager Ian Harvey commented, "Bryan Fletcher lives in Heber, Utah close to me and I have been impressed with him and his other teammates' professionalism and commitment.  It is my pleasure to support them."

"Switching to Toko was a fantastic opportunity," stated Taylor Fletcher, one of the top athletes on the USA Nordic Combined team. "The gloves have a great warmth to weight ratio.  Due to their European sizing, the size increments are smaller such that we can achieve a perfect fit.  I appreciate the personal touch that Ian has given the gloves as well as to our team".

USA Nordic is the parent organization for USA Nordic Combined and USA Ski Jumping and is based in Park City, Utah.  To stay connected with all of the USA Nordic Combined athletes, please visit www.usanordic.org and subscribe to our newsletter!

USA Nordic's Bryan Fletcher, a top Nordic Combined skier wearing Toko profi gloves in Winter Warrior color
Boulder Mountain Tour Wax Reports

BMT Co-Ed Team Sprint
In our underlayer test we found LF Red to be the best.  We ran a HF Blue/Red mix with Red JetStream 2.0 powder covered with Red JetStream 2.0 block.  
 
BMT 
We spent the week before the race testing in an inch or two of fresh snow and our ski results were consistent with the published Toko tip of using a slightly stiffer ski with a finer grind.  We again found success with the same HF Blue/Red mix as in the sprint.  JetStream Red 2.0 was a great powder choice since it has such an incredible range, although we both felt that our skis were fastest the final 15km.  We top coated with a block roto corked in as well as liquid.

Testing up at Galena Lodge on Friday conditions were new soft snow with temperatures in the mid twenties, just a couple degrees cooler than were forecast for race day of the Boulder Mountain Tour.  We found Toko LF Red running better than black waxes for a base layer, and HF Red also running very well.  So that's what we ran for base layers.  The Red has a great broad range, and mixing yellow and AX134 in wasn't helping.  We received around another foot of wet snow overnight which made for one of the most challenging BMT's ever!  We powdered the skis morning of, with many of our athletes opting for White/Clear base skis. Toko Red Helix 2.0 won our top coat test which made for an easy last step after adding a broken structure.  
 
-Chris Mallory
Sun Valley Gold Team Coach 
Why did we recommend avoiding soft skis in the Boulder Mountain Tour although the conditions were soft?

When new snow is soft and dry, soft skis are generally very good. However when the new snow is wet and soft, there are other considerations to take into account.  In soft new wet snow, two major considerations are flotation and moisture management.

In new soft snow, when a person pushes off (skating), it is common for the skis to sink into the snow creating a braking effect and a huge energy loss.  Using a stiffer ski (or at least avoiding a soft ski) minimizes this issue because it provides a stronger and wider platform that is less likely to sink and result in energy and speed loss.

Unless new snow has a strong glaze or a strong moisture film on top, it is very sensitive to structure (especially in the mountain west).  We have had this snow all winter and have gained a lot of experience with it.  In addition to by using structure, moisture can also be managed by using a very hydrophobic wax (HF, JetStream, and HelX) and also a stiffer ski which reduces contact of the base on the snow.  For this reason in these conditions, a ski with more camber was advantageous.

I saw many people doing glide outs next to one another while tucking.  In this deep loose new snow, this is not an effective way of comparing skis because the stiffer ski will almost certainly be much better when the camber is being worked (while skiing and pushing off).  A softer ski would probably have been close in its gliding properties, but overall would have been poor comparatively.

Sophie Caldwell in Falun, Sweden finishing 3rd in the World Cup sprint qualifier!  This could be next year's catalog cover, we'll see!   Toko Classic gloves in black/silver. Photo: Nordic Focus
Visit TokoVideos.com for short, concise, and accurate "how to" videos.  The menu is separated into categories such as Alpine Race Tuning, Recreational Nordic Waxing, or Alpine Freestyle Tuning.  There are videos covering a ton of useful subjects and the average video is only a 3 minutes.

The Best Overall Way to Apply JetStream
Different application methods run differently in different types of snow.  For example, generally cold applications such as rotocorking or hand corking are fastest in colder powder snow and hot applications such as applying with a hot iron are best in wet and transformed snow.
We tested the same wax using many different application methods in a wide variety of conditions throughout a winter and found that the following application method was fastest or 2nd fastest in all conditions.  We also tested durability and dirt resistance and this was as good as any other application method.  So, this is our "default" recommended application method for applying JetStream.  We recommend you get familiar with it and use it for best results.
You will need Base Tex (Fiberlene), a good quality waxing iron (T14 or T18), a Nylon Polishing Brush, and a Thermo Cork.
The Best Way Overall to Apply JetStream for Nordic Ski Racing
The Best Way Overall to Apply JetStream for Nordic Ski Racing

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