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As discussed further below, Boulder Nordic Sports is THE place to go for all of your questions. No, we don’t work for them or get any kickbacks. But they are among the top Nordic stores in the country and we just happen to be lucky enough that they are here in Portland. Roger Knight and Marc Drabik are FANTASTIC to work with and could not be more knowledgeable or helpful. Before you visit them, it will be helpful to take a look at ROGER’S GUIDE to the sport to help you get started.
If you have additional questions after reading his introduction, please 1) keep reading; 2) visit or call Roger/Marc; 3) ask questions at the team meetings; or 4) contact Otis, Alice, Rebecca, Jonathan or any Captain. BNS also offers incredibly generous TEAM PRICING so make sure you let them know you have a skier on the Waynflete Team. You can email bnseast (at) bouldernordic.com or call 207.541.7438. Note: you will need to purchase gear through the BNS East location and not via their website to obtain the team prices.
What You Need:
-One pair of “Combi” boots compatible with NNN bindings
-Two pairs of poles, one “skate” pair and one “classic” pair.
-Two pairs of skis, one “skate” pair and one “classic” pair. You can shop around for skate skis. We recommend you go to BNS in Portland for your classic skis.
PLEASE DO NOT BUY COMBI SKIS.
-NNN bindings for each ski. The ski shop will mount these to your skis.
Why You Need It:
There are two types of cross country skiing, skate and classic. Classic ski technique relies on a sticky glue-like substance called kick wax underneath the foot of the ski to help the athlete push down the track. Skate skiing uses a side to side motion not dissimilar to ice skating and does not use the sticky kick wax. In High School races, athletes compete in both disciplines and need appropriate equipment for each.
Boots – There are three types of boots. Skate, Classic, and Combi. We recommend Combi boots that are compatible with the NNN binding system. Most High School skiers use them, it costs less than buying two separate pairs, and the performance gains of having separate pairs are negligible at this level of competition.
Bindings – These hold boots on the ski. Almost all the high school skiers in the area use NNN bindings. If you hope to exchange, trade, or purchase skis from other families, this is the binding system you want.
Poles – Your child will need two pairs of poles, one to use for classic technique, and one to use for skate technique. Any shop that sells skis can help you pick the right poles. If you are getting them second hand, skate poles should come up to your child’s chin, and classic poles should just reach their armpits. If they try getting by with only one pair, they can not only hurt their technical progression in the sport, but risk injury. Stay safe!
Skis – There are three types of skis. Skate, Classic, and Combi. You can shop around for skate skis. Ski swaps can be great for new athletes and those who are not really into the competitive aspect of the sport. Classic skis rely on being flexed specifically to your child’s weight in order to ensure the kick wax comes into contact with the snow only when it is supposed to. Too stiff and the skier won’t be able to push themselves forward. Too soft and it’s like trying to drive with your emergency brake on. Both are extremely frustrating.
Where to buy:
– Boulder Nordic Sport (BNS) has an excellent selection and guarantees correctly flexed skis. They are located in a rather “unassuming” building — have Roger or Marc tell you the story of how they ended up there — at 30 Olympia Street in Portland.
– Play it Again sports, most limited selection.
– Gear Hub had a good selection of Skate skis
Concerns about outgrowing
-Skate skis are flexed to 110-130% of a skiers weight. This means that correctly flexed skis are very likely to last all of a skiers high school career.
-Classic skis are flexed to 50-54% of a skiers weight. Outgrowing them is simply a reality, possibly every year. Again, we can’t emphasize enough that improperly flexed skis are extremely frustrating.
-Boots if you buy fresh combi boots now, you’re likely going to be able to resell or ski swap them in the future if they are outgrown. Same goes for poles.